Former Mossad director speaks on campus about Islamic State group

Sebastian Vega

While a group of student organizations held a small protest outside, Meir Dagan, former director of the MossadIsrael’s national intelligence agency, spoke at the Bass Lecture Hall on Tuesday evening about the Islamic State group’s beliefs, motives and functionality.

According to Dagan, the former Israel Defense Forces officer, the Islamic State group believes the most successful period in Islamic history was during the time of the Prophet Muhammad. Thus, to be successful once more, the group is bringing laws from the seventh century into modern day and expanding into surrounding territories.  

Dagan said basic laws being implemented in territories include the prohibition of drinking and smoking, no music playing except in prayer, no glorifying of holy sites and requiring all women to wear veils outside. 

In order to continue its actions, Dagan said the Islamic State group has been able to obtain money by robbing a bank of $500 million, taking control of oil fields worth $3 million to $6 million per day, kidnapping foreigners and receiving donations.

“Unfortunately, with this money they are able to pay [for fighters],” Dagan said. “They are functioning in a way like a state. Not only do they [support] fighters, but they have a great interest to recruit people from western countries. They do not have to recruit many people. They have to recruit a number that will serve purposes enough for the future. They understand, at some point in time, they are going to invade the west.”

Dagan said the Islamic State group decided to change its name because of growing interest.

“[The Islamic State group says], if we will be successful in Syria and Iraq, why stop there? If we are mentioning Iraq and Syria in our name it puts limitations on our goals,” Dagan said.  

The group is careful and selective with their territorial advancements, according to Dagan.

“Airstrikes can help … but you have to choose a different kind of [approach],” Dagan said. “The main target should be the leadership if you want to hurt the organization seriously. … There is no determination to operate strongly against them. I believe they are going to be a long threat.”

Members of several student organizations, including the Palestine Solidarity Committee and the International Socialist Organization, gathered outside the event to protest Dagan’s speech. At one point during Dagan’s talk, some protesters inside the auditorium interrupted the event by yelling pro-Palestinian phrases.  

“We, the Palestine Solidarity Committee of UT, object to the hosting of an individual whose work with Mossad facilitated the oppression and murder of Palestinians,” said Kelly Houck, Middle Eastern studies graduate student and committee member, in a statement.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated with more accurate details from the student protest of the event.