Mossad or RAW: Indian Spy Agency Is As Lethal As Israeli Mossad But Remains Behind The Curtains: Former RAW Official

The Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, has once again hogged the limelight after it allegedly assassinated a top Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in a covert mission last week. Innovative style and accuracy are the hallmarks of Mossad’s secret operations.

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Iran’s security chief Ali Shamkhani said the attackers had “used electronic equipment” when Fakhrizadeh’s car came under fire on the east of the capital Tehran. “The operation was a very complicated one. It took place with the employment of electronic equipment. No person (assassin) was present at the scene,” he told reporters.

On the other hand, India’s Research and Analysis Wing, better known as RAW, has also managed to carry out covert operations that have earned the intelligence agency ample praise. 

Mossad has earned international recognition that has given an edge to Israel. Analysts believe there is a certain image that Israel has created that has managed to demoralize the extremist forces.

A German journalist Jürgen Todenhöfer who spent 10 days in an ISIS-controlled region revealed that the only country ISIS fears is Israel – “They told me they know the Israeli army is too strong for them,” he said.

Graham Allison, a national security analyst, and a professor at Harvard University said that Israel’s approach to ISIS is straightforward.

“Israel seeks to persuade ISIS not to attack it by credibly threatening to retaliate,” Allison wrote in an opinion piece titled ‘Why ISIS Fears Israel’. “If you attack us, the thinking goes, we will respond in ways that will impose pain that exceeds any gain you can hope to achieve.”

Media reports have claimed, citing sources, that RAW has “neutralized” over a dozen terrorists between 2015 to 2017, although there’s no official confirmation. While some of the operations carried out by RAW are in the public domain, most of the records are still classified. 


A former intelligence officer, who retired as a number two in RAW, and wished to remain anonymous told The Eurasian Times that the agency’s role as an organization is not just limited to collecting intelligence,  but to analyze and disseminate it appropriately as well. 

RAW, India’s External Intel Agency

RAW had several international successes, including Sikkim’s accession to India in 1975, the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, and its contribution to increased Indian influence in Afghanistan. 

One of the reasons behind any intelligence agency’s success to carry out operations, he said, is the “political mandate” of the government. “During the Uri and Balakot strike, the Indian security forces received government backing”, which determined its success. 

Apart from the government’s support, any organization, including an intelligence agency, needs “offside support” like the media.

“An ambiance of trust needs to be built in the country because security agencies work 24×7 to ensure that the people of the country can sleep peacefully,” he stated. “If 10 people are planning against India’s interest, the agencies are aware of this in advance but sometimes things don’t happen as intended.”

Asked about his views on Mossad’s approach in the Middle East, the retired officer said that a small country like Israel needs to be “vigilant as the swaths of land around its territory are operated by terror groups.” Hence, through its intelligence agency, Israel has to keep the “balance of power in its favor.”

‘Political Mandate Vital’

Some analysts argued that after Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, India has started celebrating its successful surgical strike in 2016 and the 2019 Balakot strike across Line of Control with more vigor as compared to a more subdued approach that was followed in the land of Nehruvian values and Gandhian non-violence.

“Leaders in the past, including Indira Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and P. V. Narasimha Rao recognized the importance of the intelligence agency and have extended their support earlier as well,” said the former RAW officer.

Intelligence and security agencies in India are kept out of public scrutiny, which has raised questions about its operations from several human rights groups. 

While some amount of secrecy is required to carry out covert operations, as a government organization, to what extent should the agencies be kept out of scrutiny?

The former intelligence official said that the successes and failures of security agencies including RAW should be made public. “The inquiry report of a failed operation would help to fix accountability and determine remedial action.”

He suggested that like every other government agency, RAW should be brought under a parliamentary committee to review its operations. “This would help hold people accountable if they fail to fulfill their responsibility and instill fear if there is a dereliction of duty,” unlike right now when the records are kept classified.