Analysis: Forged Irish passports have long history
March 12, 2010 1 Comment
By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
At least six of the nearly 30 Mossad assassins who killed Hamas military official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh last January in Dubai, used forged Irish passports to enter and leave the United Arab Emirates. This upset the Irish government, but did not surprise intelligence observers familiar with the long history of forged Irish passports in the international espionage and smuggling worlds. The Mossad and the CIA are among several intelligence agencies known to routinely rely on cloned Irish passports to enable their agents to move around the world undetected. In 1986, several Iran-Contra affair insiders, including US National Security Council member Oliver North, covertly traveled to Iran using forged Irish passports. The Provisional Irish Republican Army is also known to possess significant quantities of false Irish passports, which it uses to enable its senior members to network with supporters abroad. One of the main reasons why Irish passports –along with Swiss and Scandinavian passports– are so coveted by Western intelligence agencies and paramilitary groups, is the relative political neutrality they carry, as well as the fact that few visa restrictions are placed on their holders. In the past, many of these forged passports –14 million by current Interpol estimates– were traded in the black market, usually for around $1,000 each. In recent years, however, advances in biometrics, holography and digital printing, have made passport forging far more difficult than it used to be. Consequently, passport forging is gradually giving way to passport cloning, a practice usually carried out by government agencies, which have access to the hi-tech resources that are required to clone travel documents.