Comment: Aussie ex-spies comment on Israeli forged passports affair
June 5, 2010 6 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Regular IntelNews readers are aware of the current crisis in Israeli-Australian relations, which broke out as a result of the use of several forged Australian passports by the Israeli intelligence services. The passports were among several Western identity documents employed by Israeli Mossad agents in targeting Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was assassinated in a luxury Dubai hotel last January. The revelation prompted Canberra to announce the expulsion of Israel’s senior Mossad representative in the country. The dust has yet to settle, and the recent shooting of an Australian citizen onboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla during last Monday’s bloody raid by the Israeli Defense Forces has the potential to worsen Australian-Israeli relations even further. What is the view of all this from Australia? IntelNews asked two Australian former intelligence officers, who offered their input on an anonymous basis. One of them, a former senior intelligence officer with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), confirmed that “there have been occasions where our sister service ASIS [Australian Secret Intelligence Service, whose mission is equivalent to the CIA’s] has undoubtedly provided documentation for ‘friendlies’ [...]”. But Australian passports, he said, are changing: “Australia [is currently] leading the way [...] in producing new passports that are impossible to forge. [However,] there are loopholes everywhere. In the not too recent past, a number of new passports were stolen from Canberra but like anything else, if you have the money then you can get whatever you want. [I]t would not take much to obtain a series of blanks and enter the appropriate names and the other requirements. The question I would like asked is how many of those foreign passports were handed over to Israeli intelligence by supporters of the state”.
On his experiences in dealing with Israeli intelligence, the former ASIO officer said: “My personal dealings with Israeli services were rather limited, except when it came to discussions about the insertion of KGB assets into the migrant stream for both countries. The [Israelis] tended to be like a vacuum cleaner; sucking up every single piece of information that they could obtain and giving very little in return. I chased a couple of cases for which they provided leads but inevitably, they fizzled out and the last one I personally handled ran so close to government that it could not be pursued following directions from the top”.
Another Australian former intelligence officer, with over 30 years experience in intelligence, had this to say about the Israeli use of forged Australian passports: “I admit to being rather confused about the use of foreign passports by Mossad and the very public elimination of the Hamas official. For an organization which thrives on secrecy, duplicity and a very high degree of professionalism, the mistakes that were made appear illogical and totally out of character. The other thing I find interesting is that the Israelis have been producing high-quality forgeries for many years and that includes passports and other documents pertaining to identity; birth certificates, marriage certificates and so on. Given that it is extremely easy to obtain passports in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, without resorting to identity theft, you are left with two options. The first is that they wanted the world to know they are still in business; or alternatively, it was a very deliberate cover for something far more sensitive or deeper. However, if I can leave you with one stone cold certainty, it is that [...] there will be no apologies or explanations, just obfuscation”.