Former CIA director and US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, in his new book, Never Give An Inch, reveals that during his term, the agency rescued Mossad agents in imminent peril at the personal request of then-Mossad director Yossi Cohen.
Israeli intelligence sources repeatedly denied to The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday afternoon that the operation in question was the February 2018 heist of the century - seizing Iran's secret nuclear archive from under its nose near the heart of Tehran - though Pompeo in his book specifically says that the operation was "one of the most significant clandestine operations ever conducted."
These sources also would not specify what other operation could have reached the level of significance as described by Pompeo, but were adamant that Americans were not involved in the 2018 Tehran archive operation.
Describing one of several interactions with then Mossad director Yossi Cohen, but without giving the exact date, Pompeo recounts hearing from an aide, "Mr. Director, [Mossad] Director [Yossi] Cohen needs to speak with you immediately."
"The call from Yossi Cohen, the head of the Mossad, arrived shortly after I had stepped off a plane in a European capital. I turned around and went back onboard, where we had communications equipment suitable for a classified conversation with the leader of Israel's intelligence agency," writes Pompeo.
Next, Pompeo says, "The voice on the other end was calm but serious: 'Mike, we just had a team complete a very important mission, and now I'm having a bit of trouble extracting some of them. Can I get your help?'"
"Whenever Yossi called, I took it. He did the same for me...I was there to help our friends, no questions asked, no matter the risks. My people swung into action across the world. We connected with his team, and within twenty-four hours we had guided them to safe houses. Within the next two days, they were back in their home countries without the world ever knowing that one of the most significant clandestine operations ever conducted was now complete," recounts Pompeo.
Although he does not name the operation or the time period, his description of "one of the most significant clandestine operations ever conducted" would seem to be spot on with the 2018 Iran nuclear archives operation.
Moreover, Cohen has previously said that while all of the dozens of Mossad agents involved eventually escaped safely, there were situations where their lives were in peril and where Iranian security forces were not far behind catching them in a wild chase.
CIA involvement changes the game
If the CIA was involved, despite Israeli denials, this would be the first public acknowledgment that the US was more deeply connected and at an earlier date to the nuclear archive heist.
To date, The Jerusalem Post has reported that Israel and Cohen updated Pompeo and the CIA much earlier than other allies and the general public, but there has been no previous report about direct CIA involvement in the operation, even if only for assisting with extraction.
There were other major reported Israeli operations during Pompeo's tenure with Trump.
But the other major publicly known operations: sabotaging nuclear facilities at Natanz in July 2020 and assassinating Iran nuclear chief Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November 2020, were both when Pompeo was no longer CIA director (he switched to the State Department in April 2018.)
Also, while Pompeo does not discuss these operations in detail in his book, he does discuss the heist of the nuclear archives.
Likewise, Israel's involvement in providing intelligence in relation to the America's assassination of IRGC Quds Force chief Qasem Soleimani, was in January 2020, when Pompeo was no longer CIA director, and this might have been described as an "assassination operation" as opposed to a "clandestine operation."
Once again, it is possible that Pompeo is referring to an operation that still is not public. It would simply be surprising, given that Cohen's Mossad aggressively disclosed or hinted to many major operations, that such a significant secret would still be under wraps.