Canadian passports still highly coveted by spies and terrorists

Canadian passportBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
An extensive investigation into a bus bombing that targeted Israeli tourists in Bulgaria points to the continued attraction of forged Canadian passports for terrorist groups and intelligence agencies. Bulgaria’s Minister of the Interior, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, said on Tuesday that the July 18, 2012, terrorist attack, was perpetrated by Al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya, the military wing of Hezbollah. The militant Shiite group, which controls large parts of southern Lebanon, has denied involvement in the bombing, which killed seven people, including five Israeli tourists. Tsvetanov said that, during a lengthy police investigation, which was assisted by American and Israeli investigators, the printer used to produce forged driver licenses found on two of the plotters was traced to Lebanon. He also told a press conference in Bulgarian capital Sofia that the suicide bomber, who died in the attack, entered Bulgaria using a forged Canadian passport. Commentator Paul Koring, of Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, correctly suggests that the revelation by the Bulgarian authorities points to the continued status of Canadian passports as the international travel documents of choice for both spies and terrorists. In the 1970s, Hezbollah’s biggest enemy, the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, used Canadian passports in Operation WRATH OF GOD (also known as Operation BAYONET). The operation exterminated almost every original member of Black September, the Palestinian group that perpetrated the massacre of the Israeli athletes in the 1972 summer Olympic Games in Munich. In 1997, the Israeli spy agency employed Canadian passports once again, during the famously disastrous attempt to kill Khaled Mashal, Chairman of the Political Bureau of Palestinian militant group Hamas, in Jordan. The countless cases of faked Canadian passports found in the hands of spies or terrorist operatives include the exfiltration of a group of American diplomats from Tehran in 1980. The six diplomats had escaped from the United States embassy during its capture by Iranian militants and were hiding in Tehran, until a Central Intelligence Agency team was dispatched to get them out. Using fake Canadian passports supplied to the CIA by the Canadian government, the diplomats were successfully exfiltrated during an operation that was recently fictionalized in the motion picture Argo. The primary reason why Canadian passports —along with Irish, Swiss and Scandinavian passports— are so coveted by intelligence agents and paramilitary groups, is the relative political neutrality they carry, as well as the fact that very few visa restrictions are placed on their holders.

5 Responses to Canadian passports still highly coveted by spies and terrorists

  1. ARIS says:

    One reason is that in Canada there is a linguistic diversity and the there is a bigger option to chose French or English speaking personnel.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “Using fake Canadian passports supplied to the CIA by the Canadian government” – if the passports were supplied by the Canadian government they can hardly be described as “fake”. It is up to the Canadian Government to decide to whom they might issue a passport and for what reason… Given the Americans were sheltering under Canadian protection it is not unreasonable that the Canadian offered short term use of a passport for the individuals.

  3. intelNews says:

    @Anonymous: We’re playing with words here, but I see your point. Technically the document is genuine, i.e. not counterfeit, but it is not supported by actual citizenship records, which makes it fraudulent. [JF]

  4. This use of both genuine and forged Canadian passports can be traced back to, at least, the time of the Spanish Civil War when foreign volunteers were required to surrender their passports to, it later turned out to be, agents of the then Soviet Union. The assassin of Trotsky used a Canadian passport, modified by the Soviet Union in the course of his travels.

  5. CIA = The CANADIAN Intelligence Agency

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