Michael Ross (Mossad officer)

Michael Ross (born 12 July 1965) is a Canadian expert on intelligence gathering and a former Mossad officer, or "combatant" with a focus upon human source intelligence collection (Humint). Ross speaks upon intelligence issues and publishes articles, and he is the author of the book The Volunteer: The Incredible True Story of an Israeli Spy on the Trail of International Terrorists. Ross advocates vigilance and the continual improvement of intelligence collection systems in order to protect free societies. In August 2007, Ross authored an article in the Canadian daily, National Post entitled, "Obama got it right" wherein he wrote that Osama bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan having been provided sanctuary by Pakistan's Directorate for Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI). Ross urged then presidential nominee, Barack Obama, to engage in unilateral intelligence and military action in Pakistan to hunt and kill al-Qaeda leaders including Osama bin Laden.

Early biographyEdit

Ross was born and raised as an Anglican in Canada. He grew up in Victoria, British Columbia. Following high school, he joined the Canadian Forces, and served in the since-disbanded Canadian Airborne Regiment of the Special Service Force at CFB Petawawa. After he was discharged, he toured Europe. In 1982, he arrived in Israel, planning to volunteer on a kibbutz before returning to Canada. After living in Israel for a while Ross decided stay and convert to Judaism. Ross subsequently settled on a kibbutz, completed his Judaism studies and successfully converted, and married an Israeli woman named Dahlia. Ross was conscripted into the Israel Defense Forces and assigned to the Combat Engineering Corps. He served in the West Bank, where his unit conducted patrols and searches for wanted terrorists and terror cells. In 1985, he was transferred to a demolitions platoon of the Golani Brigade and deployed to the Israeli security zone in southern Lebanon. His unit was tasked with keeping the roads free of ambushes and IEDs. His only combat experience was when he participated in an ambush on two Hezbollah vehicles, during which eight militants were killed.[1]

Mossad careerEdit

After the end of his military service, Ross returned to his kibbutz, and during this time, the Mossad interviewed him. He took a leave of absence from the kibbutz to return to Canada with his wife, and worked in a federal government job in Vancouver for two years before returning to Israel, where he reestablished contact with the Mossad via a telephone number through a card he had been given before leaving. After repeated interviews, a medical examination and a polygraph test, he was put through an intense training program, and in 1989, he was accepted into the Mossad. As part of his preparation for service in the Mossad, Ross attended the London School of Economics. He served under a form of non-official cover, which involves working under covers other than as an Israeli diplomat and therefore lacks diplomatic immunity, a status which the Mossad refers to as "combatant". Ross's background and language skills gave him excellent access to sources of intelligence and the ability to travel without suspicion of being an Israeli officer. For many years, Ross was the Mossad's man in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although primarily a field operative, Ross also served in an official liaison position working with the American Central Intelligence Agency and FBI Counterterrorism Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In 2000, Ross was awarded a divisional citation by former Mossad Deputy Director and Head of the National Security Council, Ilan Mizrahi. Ross left the Mossad under honorable circumstances in late 2001 with the equivalent military rank of Sgan Aluf (Lieutenant-Colonel).[1][2] He subsequently divorced and returned to Canada.

Ross's work with the Mossad was spent almost entirely in counter-terrorism.[3] According to his book, he played an integral part in the investigation and subsequent joint operation with the FBI that resulted in the capture of Fawzi Mustapha Assi, a Hezbollah operative procuring weapons technology in the United States. Assi was procuring weapons material at the behest of senior Hezbollah leaders, Imad Mughniyeh and Hassan Hilu al-Lakkis. In addition to sub-Saharan Africa, he wrote that he served in the Mossad's CAESAREA division in Syria, Azerbaijan, North Africa, and Iran. At Mossad headquarters he was involved with the TEVEL division, responsible for liaison relationships with allied governments on counter-terrorism, specifically in prevention and investigation of attacks upon embassies. Ross played an integral role in the capture of the al-Qaeda confederates responsible for the 1998 United States embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. He later served in the Mossad's BITZUR division, responsible for prevention of terrorist attacks upon Jewish communities worldwide. Ross assisted the escape of Jews from Zimbabwe threatened by the Robert Mugabe regime. Ross is credited with bolstering intelligence ties between Israel and Azerbaijan[4] and the interception of two Iranian agents attempting to procure weaponry in South Africa.[1]

Ross' book has received criticism. Haaretz journalist Yossi Melman claimed that Ross magnified and glorified his adventures and claimed to have participated in operations which it is doubtful he was involved in, however, this has been disputed by CIA, Mossad, and foreign news sources. Melman wrote that sources who knew him within the Mossad told Haaretz that Ross was never in Iran, and that he was stationed only in "base countries", or countries with which Israel has relations with, and not "target countries" (Arab countries and Iran). Melman claimed that his former colleagues also said that he remained in a junior position throughout his 13 years of service, and resigned due to bitterness about not being promoted and under a cloud due to discipline problems. This has been disputed by foreign news outlets as Israeli media are often co-opted by official government sources. Melman later appeared to contradict himself where he wrote that Ross, according to foreign news outlets,[5] played a pivotal role in the capture of the perpetrators of the Africa embassy bombings in Baku, Azerbaijan,[6] In an interview, former Mossad operative Mishka Ben-David claimed to have known Ross, but said that his book is "not credible" and not a worthwhile source from which to learn of the Mossad's work.[7] On the other hand, Ben-David has been heavily criticized in Israel for exaggerating his exploits within the Mossad. Publishers Weekly described Ross' discussions of intelligence operations as realistic and not movie-like.[8]

Book publicationEdit

Ross wrote The Volunteer in 2007. The tone of the book is pro-Israeli; Ross sees Israel as an example of civilization's defense against terrorism. He does not appear to draw distinctions between the aims of Islamist Palestinian nationalism and al-Qaeda's stated goal to drive Americans and western influence out of all Muslim nations. Ross often cites examples where Iran covertly supports and sponsors Sunni terrorist movements such as al-Qaeda, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas as well as the Taliban.



  • The Volunteer: The Incredible True Story of an Israeli Spy on the Trail of International Terrorists, Skyhorse Publishing, September 2007, ISBN 978-1-60239-132-1.

Association with Ishmael JonesEdit

Ross is a friend of Ishmael Jones, a former deep-cover CIA officer and author of The Human Factor: Inside the CIA's Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture,[9] with whom he collaborates. There is speculation that Ross and Jones operated against similar intelligence targets while working for their respective clandestine services.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Ross, Michael (2007). The Volunteer: The Incredible True Story of an Israeli Spy on the Trail of International Terrorists. Canada: Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 978-1-60239-132-1.
  2. ^ David Gritten (September 12, 2008). "Dubai Killing Sheds Unwelcome Spotlight". BBC. Retrieved 2010-03-22.
  3. ^ Ishmael Jones (June 12, 2009). "Dismantle the CIA's Station Chief System". National Review. Archived from the original on July 7, 2012. Retrieved 2010-01-06.
  4. ^ Yossi Melman (September 26, 2008). "Israel and Azerbaijan close multi-million dollar arms deal". Ha'aretz. Retrieved 2010-04-12.
  5. ^ "Israel and Azerbaijan Close Multi-million Dollar Arms Deal". Haaretz.
  6. ^ "A bestseller, by way of deception?". Haaretz.
  7. ^ https://www.makorrishon.co.il/nrg/online/1/ART2/449/809.html
  8. ^ Publishers Weekly (September 2007). The Volunteer. Publishers Weekly. ISBN 978-1602391321.
  9. ^ The Human Factor: Inside the CIA's Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture, Encounter Books, July 2008, ISBN 978-1-59403-223-3.

External linksEdit