Victor Ostrovsky, born in Edmonton, Alberta, is a Canadian-born Israel-raised former Mossad officer and author of 2 nonfiction books on Mossad and two fictional spy novels.
Ostrovsky was raised in Israel and joined the Israeli Defense Forces just before turning eighteen. During his military service, he married Bella, his childhood sweetheart. By the time he was recruited to the Mossad, Ostrovsky was a Lieutenant commander in charge of the Navy weapon testing department. Among other things, he introduced the Harpoon surface-to-surface missile to the Saar missile boats, as well as the Vulcan Phalanx anti-missile defense system. From 1982 to 1984 he was a cadet in the Mossad academy and a collections officer (katsa) from October 1984 to March 1986.
In 1990, he published By Way of Deception, his account of his time in the Mossad. Ostrovsky refused to use a pen name, stating that if he wanted to hide, he wouldn’t have written the book, which he believed was a necessary act to stop corruption within the agency.
Some critics, such as Benny Morris and author David Wise have charged that the book is essentially a novel written by a professional novelist, and that a junior employee would never have learned so many operational secrets. Some view these allegations as ill-informed speculation by outsiders. It is expected, that intelligence organizations practice strict compartmentalization of confidential, or secretive information. Rather, Ostrovsky holds in his two non-fiction books, that the Mossad consists of a very small number of case officers, who freely share information with one another. Furthermore, he claims that while at headquarters, he had liberal access to the computer system, which is not compartmentalized for "katsas".
Ostrovsky was credited as being a Mossad case officer by the Israeli government through failed, possibly inept, attempts in the Canadian and the U.S. courts to stop the publication of his book, which may have enhanced his reputation and his book's sales. According to Ostrovsky, the book pointed out mistakes and unnecessarily malicious intent in Mossad operations. And by referring to Mossad officers only by their first name and agents by code names, Ostrovsky maintains he never placed anyone in danger.
Many of Ostrovsky's claims have not been verified from other sources, nor have they been refuted. Arguments continue to rage over the credibility of his accounts.