Israel's Mossad is one of the world's leading intelligence agencies and most important Israeli intelligence agency, whose head (Director) reports directly to Israel's Prime Minister.
In 1976, Mossad agents rescued the hostages of a skyjacked Israeli airliner that was being held at Entebbe, Uganda.
The heads of the Mossad were army generals and the identity of the head was for many years kept secret. The name Mossad is short for the Central Institute for Intelligence and Security in Hebrew.
Mossad is responsible for intelligence collection, covert operations, including paramilitary and counterterrorism activities outside the borders of Isreal.
The agency has about 1,200 members. Its headquarters is in the city of Tel Aviv. Mossad is famed for its efficiency.
In 1960, Mossad discovered Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was sheltered in Argentina. Through surveillance, Mossad agents captured and brought Eichmann back to Israel, where he was tried and executed.
Mossad agents are thought to have tracked down and assassinated the Arab guerrilla leaders responsible for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.
Mossad has also been linked with several assassinations of Palestinian leaders in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.
But Mossad has also suffered setbacks. In 1997, the agency attempted to poison then Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Jordan, but its agents were caught.
Nonetheless the Mossad maintains numerous Israeli secret agents in Arab and other nations, and its operatives are believed to have carried out undercover operations against enemies of Israel and former Nazi war criminals living abroad.
It was founded in 1951, under orders from Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.
The Mossad replaced a number of organizations, including the political department of the Jewish Agency, created by the political leadership of Jewish community in Palestine.
Isser Harel who founded the Mossad in 1951 and served as its director until 1963 is credited with building the Mossad into a professional organization.