Does the Mossad Still Use the Passports of Immigrants to Israel?

The widest publication so far of such use was in the wake of the Mabhouh assassination, but many other cases have been recorded.

Anshel Pfeffer
Anshel Pfeffer
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Anshel Pfeffer
Anshel Pfeffer

Despite repeated promises by the Israeli government that the Mossad will cease to use the passports and identities of citizens of foreign countries, it seems that the practice has continued in recent years. Among countries involved have been Australia, Britain, France and Germany.

The widest publication so far of the use Israel allegedly makes of foreign passports was in the wake of the assassination of senior Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January 2010. The killing was attributed by foreign sources to Mossad. Dubai's security services claimed following the assassination that they had identified a number of Mossad agents entering and leaving the hotel where al-Mabhouh was staying and where he was killed. These men and women used passports from Australia, Britain, France and Germany.

At least in seven cases, it turned out that the passports were in the name of Jews who had immigrated to Israel from Britain and Germany. These people, living in Israel, expressed astonishment when they were told that someone using their identity had visited Dubai. Israel was forced to hurriedly mend its relations with these countries and the British government announced that it was deporting the head of the Mossad station who was in London under diplomatic cover.

Subsequently it also emerged that the identities of at least three Australians had been used. According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service had been conducting an investigation, from before the killing of al-Mabhouh, regarding the use of their passports by Israel. In the Dubai case, the names on the passports had been changed to names which were not obviously Jewish. The Canberra government demanded explanations from Israel.

In June 2010, the Polish police arrested in Warsaw a man travelling with a German passport under the name of Uri Brodsky who was identified by German media as being a Mossad agent. The man had allegedly obtained a year earlier, identifying himself as Alexander Verin, along with an associate named Michael Bodenheimer, German passports claiming their parents were Holocaust refugees born in Germany. The Bodenheimer passport was one of those used by the alleged Mossad agents during the al-Mabhouh assassination in Dubai.

Brodsky-Verin was deported to Germany and from there transferred to Israel. He was tried in Germany in absentia and fined 60 thousand Euros. In January 2011, the German police issued an international arrest warrant for Brodsky.

Exactly a year ago, the Times of London published accounts of two anonymous young men, one who had emigrated to Israel from Britain and the other France. Both young men, during their IDF service, were approached by a woman who identified herself as a Mossad official who asked to "lend" their passports for about eighteen months while they were still in the army. Upon the passports return, they contained stamps from different countries including Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkey. They were advised not to visit those countries over the next few years.

There is a long and glorious tradition of Diaspora Jews aiding Israeli intelligence, occasionally without their knowledge. In the 1970s and 1980s, the semi-secret Lishkat Ha-Kesher (Nativ) - the organization that maintained ties between Israel and the Jews of the Soviet Union, sent Jewish citizens of western countries to meet Soviet Jews, bringing them among other things Hebrew text-books. Many new immigrants to Israel have told how they were approached by Mossad to "lend" their passports for a short while and in some cases their identities were used without their knowing. The illegal use of the passports of friendly nations is in clear contradiction of assurances Israel has repeatedly given these countries not do so.

For agents operating in enemy territory, using passports of real live citizens has a major advantage over fake travel documents. Many countries have the capability to easily detect fake passports and most large airports are equipped with computer systems, connected with databases that can ascertain within seconds where a passport being used by a traveler has indeed been legally issued.

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Copies of passport photos allegedly linked to the Dubai hit of a Hamas strongman.Credit: AP

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