Israel’s ‘Prisoner X’ supplied Australian passports to the Mossad
February 14, 2013 4 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Concerns about the routine use of Australian passports by Israeli spies led to the exposure of Israel’s mystery ‘Prisoner X’, who killed himself in 2010 while in prison, it has been claimed. On Tuesday, ABC Australia reporter Trevor Bromann identified the mystery prisoner as Ben Zygier, an Australian father of two, who had been recruited by the Mossad, Israel’s covert-action agency, after moving to Israel in 2000. Zygier, whose identity had been withheld even from his prison guards, was arrested in early 2010 and was held for several months in Ayalon, Israel’s most secure prison, located southeast of Tel Aviv. Ayalon’s Unit 15, where Zygier was held, consists of a single cell constructed in 1995 to house Yigal Amir, the assassin of Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Remarkably, shortly after ABC Australia revealed Zygier’s identity, Israeli news outlets received telephone calls from the Office of Israel’s Prime Minister, requesting urgent meetings “in the interest of Israel’s national security”. Israeli media reported that senior news editors across Israel were told by the government “to exercise restraint” and refrain from exposing information that could have “very dramatic repercussions” for Israel’s security.
But what exactly did Zygier do for the Mossad? According to reporter Jason Koutsoukis, who investigated Zygier before his arrest in 2010, the Israeli was part of a group of Australian-born spies working for a Mossad front-company based in Europe. The company is said to have supplied electronic communications equipment to Iran through a Middle Eastern subsidiary. Some reports indicate that Zygier was placed under investigation by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in 2009, after he returned to Australia at least four times to legally change his name and request passports. He reportedly changed his name from the Jewish-sounding Ben Zygier to Ben Allen and then Ben Burrows. After each name change, he would file for a new Australian passport to be issued under his new identity. The ASIO began to suspect that Zygier, along with several other Australians with dual Israeli nationality, had been instructed by the Mossad to anglicize his name so that he could travel to the Middle East without appearing to be connected with Israel. Further research by the ASIO revealed that the dual Israeli-Australian citizens under investigation for anglicizing their names were connected with the same Mossad front-company operating in Europe.
The ASIO investigation into Zygier’s activities picked up speed in January of 2010, after a group of Mossad operatives assassinated Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a weapons procurer for Palestinian militant group Hamas, at a luxury hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The eventual revelation that four of the 27-member Mossad team used forged Australian passports to enter the Emirates led to a major crisis in Australian-Israeli relations, which culminated in the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat from Australia. It is likely that Zygier’s name became embroiled with a wider ASIO investigation into the methods used by the Mossad to acquire forged Australian passports for its operatives abroad. Some believe it was not by accident that Zygier “disappeared” from the streets shortly after the al-Mabhouh assassination. Reports in the Israeli media suggest that the ASIO itself might be responsible for compromising Zygier’s identity, by leaking his name to the Australian media in 2010.
The burning question, of course, is why did the Israelis imprison Zygier? How did this promising Mossad officer end up behind bars? Does his imprisonment in the same maximum-security cell that housed Rabin’s assassin imply that his crime was comparable in scope to killing an Israeli political leader? Did he, in other words, commit high treason of the highest possible magnitude? Did he collaborate with the Australians once he was confronted by the ASIO, or perhaps with Iran? And if so what where his motives? Was he disillusioned with Israel, did he seek revenge, or was he simply after money? And why did he kill himself? As the world’s media are turning their attention to this bizarre and fascinating case, many observers can be excused for believing that it won’t be long before the truth finally emerges.