Harpoon: Inside the Covert War Against Terrorism's Money Masters Reviewed By Norm Goldman of
Norm Goldman

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By Norm Goldman
Published on November 19, 2017

Authors: Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Samuel M. Katz

Publisher: Hachette Books

ISBN: 978-0-316-39905-0

Authors: Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Samuel M. Katz

Publisher: Hachette Books

ISBN: 978-0-316-39905-0

It is amazing the billions of dollars that have found their way into the coffers of terror organizations as Hamas, Hezbollah, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), al-Qaeda, and Isis and only in recent years has there been realization that to combat terrorism it is essential to choke off the funds that support these entities.

In Harpoon: Inside the Covert War Against Terrorism's Money Masters, authors Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Samuel M. Katz provide their readers with an overview of the new and conventional method of fighting terrorism, which all boils down to “following the money.”

It is also a chronicle of the outstanding and skillful work of the legendary Israeli spymaster and former director of the Mossad, Meir Dagan, who realized the importance money is to these inhuman and vicious terrorists.

Dagan's inspiration can be attributed to a young Israeli army officer by the name of Uri L serving in the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) who first brought to the attention of his superiors the importance of how money plays as a lifeblood of terrorism. Unfortunately, his out-of-the box thinking was not taken seriously until Dagan came along and appreciated Uri's theory of waging financial war. Their eventual consultative meetings would blossom into a lifelong friendship and working relationship where they both understood that military might alone would never defeat the armies surrounding Israel.

When Dagan raised the issue with Benjamin Netanyahu in the mid 1990s that it was advisable to form a special task force to go after terrorist's money, the head of Israel's intelligence service and most senior IDF commanders were not very enthusiastic. It was only when Ariel Sharon defeated Netanyahu and came to power in 1999 that he was given the green light to go ahead.

It should be mentioned that when Dagan in 1996 was appointed to be in charge of Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau he formed an entity called Harpoon, a financial counter-terrorism force that was made up of personnel from the military, the intelligence services, the police, the custom service, and other ministries. Now that he had the full support of Sharon, he insisted that Harpoon would have the necessary means to empower all elements of the Israeli government to go after the money that facilitated the bloodshed that caused the murdering of innocent people. In addition, he called upon his friend Uri L to become his deputy as well as another expert Lavi S.

Among the feats discussed in the book is how Dagan's team developed unique expertise in unravelling the human makeup of particular terror organizations from the top political leaders to cell commanders and their flow of money. We learn about such entities as the Arab Bank and its relationship with Yassir Arafat as well as its role it played in the West Bank and Gaza. In fact, one of the most daring and ingenious operations named, “Operation Green Lantern,” was the raiding of the Arab Bank and the obtaining of account information pertaining to hundreds of account holders and their links to the funding of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Another of their targets was the Lebanese Canadian Bank that was eventually put out of business. Dagan's objective was to mirror the anti-racketeering efforts of the United States Department of Justice that had so effectively used against organized crime that were connected to illegal enterprises and its proceeds.

We also hear about how a Harpoon undercover operation duped Yassir Arafat to lose $100 million dollars to an Israeli-directed investment scheme. It should be pointed out and something that the media forgets to inform their followers is that the PLO chief was found to have embezzled millions of dollars from the PLO.

Then there is the case of Salah Ezzedine who was a Hezbollah financier in Lebanon who lost approximately one billion in an intelligence escapade causing a major financial disruption for Hezbollah.

These are just a few samplings of the fascinating exposés that read like a spy novel rather than a work of non-fiction. And thanks to Harpoon a new branch of litigation practice has been opened up where law firms and law centers such as Shurat-Hadin have and are presently litigating ground-breaking actions representing victims of terrorist attacks perpetrated against Israel. They are using civil litigation as a means of shutting down the financial pipelines to various terrorist organizations.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the co-author of the book is an Israeli activist and civil rights attorney is the president of Shurat HaDin, an Israeli law center based in Tel Aviv, and she and her team have represented hundreds of terror victims in lawsuits worldwide.

Follow Here To Read An Interview With Nitsana Darshan-Leitner