First Published: 2013-02-16

 

Israel's use of foreign passports under scrutiny

 

Former Australian intelligence officer Warren Reed says passports from countries such as Australia are particularly useful to Israel.

 

Middle East Online

By Martin Parry – SYDNEY

Most of Mossad operations are carried out on false flag

In January 2010 a suspected Mossad hit squad assassinated a top Hamas militant in Dubai. It emerged afterwards -- to the fury of Canberra -- that some of the cell were using Australian passports.

Current defence minister Stephen Smith, foreign minister at the time, summoned the Israeli ambassador and warned that the countries' friendly ties were at risk.

The explosive revelations this week surrounding so-called "Prisoner X" who died in a Tel Aviv jail has again raised concern over the Israeli spy agency's use of foreign passports.

The man, identified by media as Australian-Israeli Mossad agent Ben Zygier, committed suicide in December 2010 while in isolation at Ayalon prison in a case Israel went to extreme lengths to cover up.

His arrest in February 2010 came just a week after Dubai police publicly accused Mossad agents of carrying out the Hamas hit, saying they were looking for around a dozen people with Western passports -- four of them Australian.

The speculation is that Zygier was on the verge of revealing details about Mossad's use of Western passports, among other sensitive operational issues.

An unnamed Australian security official familiar with the case told the Sydney Morning Herald on Friday that Zygier "may well have been about to blow the whistle, but he never got the chance".

The newspaper said he was one of at least three dual Australian-Israeli citizens who emigrated to Israel in the past decade whose cases were investigated by Australia's overseas espionage agency ASIS.

It alleged that in each case the men used their Australian passports to travel to Iran, Syria and Lebanon -- countries that do not allow Israelis to enter. Zygier denied he was a spy.

Former Australian intelligence officer Warren Reed said passports from countries such as Australia were particularly useful to Israel.

"It's a clean country, it has a good image like New Zealand. There aren't many countries like that so our nationality and anything connected with it can be very useful in intelligence work," he said.

Reed added that it was not just Israel recruiting people to make use of their passports for espionage activities.

"It's not only Israel doing it, but the Israeli intelligence system possibly depends on this sort of thing more than anyone else," he told Sky News.

"If Ben was going to blow the whistle on something like that, that's a key operational factor and they wouldn't want that to get out.

"One wonders though whether the passport thing is at the centre of this. It may be just one component."

In March 2004, two suspected Mossad agents were arrested in New Zealand and later convicted for fraudulently trying to obtain passports from the country, prompting diplomatic sanctions.

When the Dubai story broke in 2010, former Mossad case officer Victor Ostrovsky was quoted in Australian media as saying the agency regularly faked Australian passports for its agents.

"They need passports because you can't go around with an Israeli passport, not even a forged one, and get away or get involved with people from the Arab world," he said.

"So most of these (Mossad) operations are carried out on what's called false flag, which means you pretend to be of another country which is less belligerent to those countries that you're trying to recruit from."

He said Mossad had a "very, very expensive research department" dedicated to manufacturing the fake documents which simulates different types of paper and ink, although Israel has dismissed his claims.

At the time of the Dubai incident, then foreign minister Smith said: "This is not the first occasion where there has been misuse of an Australian passport by Israeli agencies."

Canberra is reviewing the Zygier case and Smith Friday refused to comment.

 

Syrian refugees desert Middle East for Europe

Israel to use agriculture to win friends in Africa

UN pursues Syria chemical weapons probe

71 'Syrians' dead in Austria truck tragedy

Iran premieres big-budget epic film 'Muhammad'

Al-Qaeda lashes 10 in Yemen for blasphemy, alcohol

Turkey PM to form cabinet ahead of November polls

Iraq PM orders forces to prepare to open Green Zone

UN conference on plight of minorities persecuted by IS

Spain judge accuses suspect of running IS Morocco network

Yemen army recruits 4,800 southern fighters

At least 76 die as boat sinks off Libya

US says IS cyber jihadist killed in Syria strike

S.Sudan govt calls peace deal 'reward for rebellion'

Serbia, Macedonia urge EU action on migrants

South Sudan peace deal given cautious welcome

Two Iraqi generals in Anbar suicide bomb attack

IS seizes five villages from rebels in Syria's Aleppo

Syria regime, rebels agree new 48-hour truce for three towns

Shebab gunmen ambush Somali army convoy

Iraq PM plans to implement constitutional reform

Muslims not doing enough to fight IS: Queen Rania

Lebanon charges radical Islamist Al-Assir with 'terrorism'

Qaeda group blows up Yemen army HQ in Mukalla

Palestinian rivals agree ceasefire in Lebanon camp

New migrant tragedy in Mediterranean: 40 people dead, 2,000 in danger

Tehran's shoe-shine man in a red stiletto

Saudi King to meet Obama next month on first trip to US as monarch

Turkey PM invites pro-Kurdish MPs into caretaker cabinet

Car bomb attack kills Syria opposition commander in Turkey

Arab League postpones meeting on joint military force

Erdogan sends clear message to voters: It’s either AKP or instability!

South Sudan leader meets regional leaders ahead of peace deal

Saudi Arabia ‘holding’ key suspect in 1996 Khobar bombing

Israel releases second group of migrants from desert facility

US military may have skewed reports on progress against ISIS

Aid groups launch joint call to end Gaza blockade

Qaeda in Yemen denies having held British hostage rescued by UAE

Europe fails to overcome divisions as refugee crisis accelerates

European ministers to discuss security measures after France train attack

ISIS claims bloody attack on Egypt security forces in Sinai

Saudi executes four despite moratorium call

Afghan mercenaries in Syria: Iran presses ahead with covert recruitment

Record numbers of migrants crossing into Hungary

Kuwait summons Iran envoy over disputed gas field