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No secret: Israel seeks more spies

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JERUSALEM — Would-be spies are wanted to fill the ranks of Israel's once notoriously clandestine Mossad secret service.

Israel's spy agency is shedding its veil of secrecy by launching a public drive for the first time to recruit newcomers for operational activities, the prime minister's office said.

A statement from the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said: "The message that is being put forth by the advertising campaign is this: 'The Mossad is being opened up.' "

It said the agency would advertise in newspapers for "suitable candidates" to apply to the Mossad and would send letters to appropriate university graduates in an effort to increase applications and draw the "best manpower in the market."

"The option that the Mossad offers is a unique chance to belong to an elite unit of outstanding talent," the statement said, offering a taste of the recruitment drive to come.

The Mossad gathers intelligence outside Israel and conducts "special operations" abroad. It had opened up in recent years and has begun publishing the name of its chief.

It has also courted domestic and international opinion after a series of embarrassing setbacks tarnished its image and that of Israel's domestic Shin Bet security service.

The statement said Barak, who as minister of defense heads the Mossad, had taken the decision to adopt the "modern and updated language of the communications world" in light of competitive recruiting by high-tech and business companies.

"The Mossad, an organization that by its inherent character guards its secrecy and . . . does not generally expose details of its activities," the statement said before noting the Mossad was not the first secret service to go public.

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Britain's MI5 internal security agency have both turned to modern communications and the media to snare potential recruits, it said.