Tuesday 20 July 2004

The Mossad Mission in New Zealand

by Trowbridge H. Ford

While Israel's Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks, commonly known as the Mossad, is a great learner, and an excellent operator of covert operations, it is a terrible educator, unless one considers misinforming, and disinforming the public part of the educational process. Noted for its elimination of troublemakers, one way or another - thanks to what it picked up from catching or killing some of its enemies, and assisting its friends in related activities - it often farms out part of its operations to like-minded Jews around the world, and sees that it has an alibi for what is done by actually getting other agencies, particularly military intelligence (Aman), involved. Under no conditions, though, does Israel admit or disclose what actually happened, no matter how well-intentioned, and beneficial the outcome. Gross failures must be given the maximum amount of spin for fear that the rest of the world might start learning what the leading items on its covert agenda are.

While the Israelis' pursuit of the perpetrators of the Holocaust, especially transportation organizer of it Adolf Eichmann in Argentina, are widely known, its elimination of its Arab enemies are more common, and celebrated. In seeking out Nazis, the Mossad learned the value of having forged passports, what the Americans and British provided them when they fled Germany after the war - once they had spilled their guts about what they knew about the Soviets, especially their order of battle, weapons development, and spy networks.

People given new identities by surgical means, provided they have the proper documentation, are most difficult to trace. Little wonder that the Israelis were most desirous of broadcasting Nazi captures, once they were finally obtained, and brought back for trial. The process put the fear of God in those still on the run, and people, especially Jews, around the world of dangers they still might face.

Certainly the most sophisticated operation in this regard was when the Mossad entrapped Mordechai Vananu, a government technician at the Dimona nuclear plant, after he provided top secret documents about its operations to the Sunday Times in 1986. Actually, the disclosure was nothing new, and whatever Vananu's real aim was, it played into Tel Aviv's hands - providing a basis of an apparent falling out between the Israeli and British governments when the shooting of Swedish statsminister Olof Palme ran the risk of being exposed, and showing just how closely they had been working together to achieve it.

Colonel Micha "Mike" Harari was then running a network in Central America for Panama's Manuel Noreiga, working to help Oliver North's Contras receive guerrilla tranining, and arrange arms purchases in Europe and Israel. In the process, Harari became involved with Frank Camper's Operation Pegasus - what was to train Contras to conduct assassinations, deep within the Sandinista ranks. Harari utlimately was working with such unsavory characters as Félix Rodríguez, "Che" Guevara's killer, and Felix Vidal aka Charles Morgan, the unsuccessful recruiter of mercenaries and Nazis in Stockholm and London to assassinate Palme.

When the government of Honduras deported Operation Pegasus, thanks to a tipoff that Jack Terrell aka "Colonel Flaco" had provided Memphis Commerical Appeal reporter William Thomas in December 1984, Harari's network was forced to work more and more with former SAS Major David Walker's KMS and Saladin firms to achieve its anti-Sandinista and anti-Soviet aims in Latin America and across northern Europe. It was Walker's KMS firm reassessing Swedish bodyguard perforamnce which utlimately supplied Palme's assassin - what Israel hoped to exploit at Libya's expense by Operation Trojan if everything had gone according to plan. It called for Libyan agents to do all kinds of terrorist acts for their Soviet masters by means of the transmitting post it had surreptitiously established right outside Tripoli just before the assassination, indicating that Moscow was really behind it.

While this did not have the desired effect because of the counter measures Moscow arranged with spies "Rick" Ames and Robert Hanssen for all the Anglo-American double agents, plus French and Spanish counterterrorists not believing the directions were authentic, it is interesting to note that Victor Ostrovsky, a former Mossad agent, and now an Israeli dissident, did not mention the effort when he wrote about the operation. Trojan directions were later used to justify the American attack on Tripoli after a discothèque in Berlin was blown up, and some party on the scene sent messages back to the Libyan capital to pin responsibility for it on Colonel Qaddafi, though Ostrovsky doubted these claims.

To soften up Thatcher's Britain to support the attacks, the Mossad made it look as if Damascus was behind Jordanian-Palestinian Nizar Hindawi's attempt to smuggle a bomb on an El Al airliner departing from Heathrow. The bomb was hidden in the luggage of his girl friend, Ann Murphy, and was timed to explode over Austria. Thanks apparently to an infinity transmitter that the Security Service placed on the phone line outside the Syrian Embassy to bug its ambassador's messages, its tipping off El Al security about the bomb's presence when Ms. Murphy was checking in, and Nizar seeking refuge in the embassy after the fiasco, Britain and America then broke off relations with Syria

According to Mark Urban in UK Eyes Alpha, the plan was foiled by the intercepts of Syrian Ambassador Loutouf Allah Haidar messages back to Damascus, recommending that Syrian Air Force Intelligence support Hindawi's plan. (p. 42ff.) It seems more likely that this operation bound to fail was arranged by the Mossad stations in Amman and London - where Hindawi was recruited, given documentation, even an official Syrian service passport, to implicate Damascus in the 'false-flag' operation once it backfired, and given instruction where to seek refuge if things went wrong - helping explain why the Thatcher government expelled the Mossad the following year after relations had cooled down.

For good measure, the Mossad assassinated Ali-Adhami, an Arab expatriate cartoonist, in the Chelsea section of London after he made fun of Yasser Arafat's sex life. "The lesson," Tony Geraghty wrote in The Bullet Catchers, "was that Mossad probably knew more about this type of terrorism in London than the British Security Services." (p. 390)

Vananu's kidnapping still had the desired effect, thanks to the Mossad's aggressive use of an American passport by 'Cindy', his apparent girl friend but actually its gorgeous agent persuading him to flee to Rome where "her sister" had an apartment after Robert Maxwell's Sunday Mirror published his photograph. In the Italian capital, Vananu was bushwhacked, drugged, and shipped back to Israel by ship.

Of course, the Israelis could have simply killed him, but he was of much more value as a living traitor, locked up in solitary confinement for 18 years because of his treachery. His plight was a grim reminder to anyone tempted to do likewise, to Tel Aviv's enemies and possible supporters what they could expect in dire strategic confrontations, and to Israel's critics who questioned its commitment to human rights and democracy.

Harari's role in the process recalled his botched operation against Ali Hassan Salameh, chief of Yasser Arafat's Force 17 bodyguards, when the Mossad was carrying out retribution killings against the Black September movement for the murders of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. After a string of successful operations against the Munich culprits, Harari and a colleague, using Norwegian passports, murdered another person by mistake in Lillehammer early the following year. Thanks to false information that a blackmailed double agent in the Black September movement had supplied, they shot Moroccan Ahmed Bouchiki, a waiter returning home after work, rather than Salameh.

While Harari and his fellow assassin escaped, the Jewish in-country support team didn't, several of its members being imprisoned. In 1979, another Harari-led assassination squad aka kidon made up for the failure, blowing up Salameh, his fellow passengers in the Volkswagen, and several innocent bystanders in Beirut after having come ashore from an Israeli launch. Mossad agents just don't give up until they get their quarry.

The Mossad's aggressive use of false passports had really taken off after Major Benjamin Shalit had learned of the CIA's programming of James Earl Ray to assassinate Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King in 1968. Ray, on the run from the Missouri State Penitentiary, and hard-pressed for employment, was checked out by Dr. Mark O. Freeman as to his suitability as a Manchurian Candidate, taken to New Orleans to be checked out by the Agency's 'Executive Action' chief William King Harvey, and once okayed for the mission, programmed by Xavier von Koss back in L. A. to do the job. (For more on this, see Trowbridge H. Ford, "Mind-Control Experiments...," Eye Spy!, Issue Eight, pp. 54-5.)

Once Ray killed King on cue and without any recall, it was then a question of his making his escape from Canada - what required his getting a Canadian passport. "Ray needed to find someone who not only fit his age," Gerald Posner wrote in Killing The Dream, "but who also did not have a current passport." (p. 240) First Ray started getting a copy of a birth certificate for a Paul Bridgeman, only to discover, after having called him up in the guise of an immigration officer, that he already had a passport. Then Ray tried to get one for a police officer named Ramon George Sneyd, after using the same ploy to determine that Sneyd didn't have one. Ray then unexpectedly received a bírth certificate for Bridgeman despite the fact that his landlady had twice told the Registrar's Office that no one by the name of Bridgeman lived there, and when it still arrived, she had it returned.

After Ray was forced to use a new alias after he was cited for jaywalking by another policeman, he quickly changed addresses to avoid exposure. It was only after he had sent another application to the Bureau of Vital Statistics for a copy of Sneyd's birth certificate that he discover that he didn't need one at all. "Ray only had to complete a passport application together with a Statutory Declaration in Lieu of Guarantor." (p. 243) Once Ray had filled out the forms, and the Kennedy Travel Bureau owner had notarized them, they were sent to the passport office in Ottawa. Though Ray was panicked into fleeing without it, once Toronto authorities learned that he was wanted for the assassination of Dr. King, and the name on the Sneyd passport was misspelled, he flew to London on May 7th on a BOAC flight.

A month later, after Ray had made a fruitless effort to join white mercenaries in Africa via Lisbon where he corrected his passport, he returned to London to obtain further instructions about joining them from Major Alistair Wicks, and with the help of Daily Telegraqph reporter Ian Colvin. While these efforts proved fruitless, Ray was reduced to robbing at gun point the Fulham branch of the Trustee Svings Bank just to pay his outstanding bills. The day after Ray learned of Bobby Kennedy's assassination - an operation similar to King's - he tried to flee England for Brussels, only to be arrested by Detective Sergeant Philip Birch after he determined that Roman George Sneyd was wanted by both the Bureau and Scotland Yard for serious crimes.

The Mossad was absolutely entranced by Ray's story - that a such a criminal could get away with so many crimes on a Canadian passport - that it attempted to replicate the tale at Yasser Arafat's expense once and for all. Commander Shalit was put in charge of a Manchurian Candidate effort to program a Palestinian, who was acquainted with the PLO leader, with a Canadian passport to kill him. The only trouble with the effort was that the Palestinian, like Lee Harvey Oswald back in July 1963, was constitutionally opposed to doing the job, so when he was finally let loose, he just laughed at his programmers, and disappeared. The Mossad did provide backup for this possibility - outfitting him with a bomb in the guise of a radio - but it failed to explode when he was making his escape.

Still, the program was something the Mossad had on the shelf if circumstances indicated its feasibility. The use of Manchurian Candidates was increasingly rare because of the difficulty of finding the right person for the operation. There were too few targets who were loosely protected or unprotected, and whose murder required an assassin who couldn't really recall why he had done it. Assassinations increasingly called for killers who infiltrated the target's security, particularly by being a part of it. The use of forged passports, especially Canadian ones, though the procedure for getting them was tightened up after the Ray fiasco, still an important possible component of any targeted killing.

This was too much in evidence when the Mossad, while DannyYatom was Director General in 1997, finally decided to take advantage of its station in Amman, and assassinate Hamas political leader Khalid Meshaal. The Israelis were already holding its spiritual leader, Sheikh Yassin, and Tel Aviv hoped that Meshaal's murder would mean the end of the radical Palestinian movement. The Mossad could not use agents already in Amman for fear of wrecking the whole Jordanian-Israeli peace accord, so it sent in two agents from outside, using the still fairly easy Canadian passports to gain entry.

The only trouble with the operation was that Jordan's General Intelligence Department was on the lookout for any attempt on the Hamas leader's life, and it went immediately into action after the two Mossad agents had overpowered Meshaal's bodyguard, and sprayed or injected a lethal paralyzing agent into his ear. The result was that the Israeli government had to take emergency steps to save Meshaal's life, the international community was outraged by the Mossad's misuse of Canadian sovereignty, and Tel Aviv had to release Yassin and other Palestinian return for the release of the Mossad agents.

When Meir Dagan was made Mossad's Director General after he successfully arranged Ariel Sharon's election as Israel's Prime Minister, the intelligence agency was given a completely free hand to do whatever was apparently needed to attain Israel's security. Assassinations became the primary means of achieving this goal, and the Mossad seems to have taken advantage of its ability to infiltrate the security services of Iraq, Britain, and Sweden to secure the murders of Abu Nidal, Dr. David Kelly, and Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh - operations which will be analyzed further in subsequent articles.

What is important now is to pick up on the story after the plans by the Spanish, British, and American governments to blame the Madrid bombings of March 11th upon the Basque separatists ETA had gone so terribly wrong - thanks to Spanish 'sexing up' of signal intelligence provided by Britain GCHQ and America's NSA at the expense of solid human intelligence gained on the ground by Spanish counterterrorists about Al-Qaeda's plans.

The Mossad, as usual in such emergencies, jumped into the breach to stop the hemorrhaging of support for the war in Iraq - what new Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero had already given authority to, and New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark threatened to legitimize. Clark is about as close a political leader to the murdered Lindh as one can conceive of, and she is threatening to expand Lindh's agenda against the Coalition throughout the Middle East. LIttle wonder that a Mossad kidon immediately swung into action to enter New Zealand under false documentation, and eliminate her. Her killers could not be recruited from such a small, isolated country, and hope to escape capture after the assassination.

To obtain false identities for at least the trigger men, New Zealander Eli Cara set up a phony travel bureau in a house he rented in Turramurra, Australia, while fellow country Uriel Zoshe Kelman went through the process of gaining a passport for one of them in the name of a person suffering from cerebral palsy in Auckland. This entailed befriending a cooperative general practitioner under false pretenses who would confirm Kelman's claims that he was the sufferer. Supervising the operation from a house near the GP was Zev William Barkan, an American who was based in Washington. The fourth member of the kidon has yet to be identified.

The only trouble with the operation is that the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, and New Zealand's Security Intelligence Service learned of it nearly from its inception, thanks apparently to a tipoff from Madrid. The GP helped by informing the passport officials that he didn't think that Kelman - the suspect more anxious to hide his face in court, wear a mask when he might be seen by the public, and headbutt probing photographers - was who he claimed. Consequently, when Kelman arranged to pick up the passport with as many cutouts as possible in April, he was still arrested after a chase during which he threw away his mobile phone, and Cara was caught observing the action from across the street. Barkan and the fourth man, though, manged to escape.

The behavior of Clark's government indicated just how serious the operation was. It called upon Sharon's government to explain what it was doing, and apologize - what it clearly could not, and would not do. After three months of waiting for a reply, Cara and Kelman were prosecuted and convicted of illegally attempting to obtain a New Zealand passport - what resulted in six months in prison, and $50,000 fines to charity for each of them. Of course, they could not be prosecuted for conspiring to kill the PM without causing an unprecedented international confrontation which might well promote more terrorism - what the government discretely avoided by declaring that a more serious prosecution would divulge most sensitive information.

In the meantime, the New Zealand government underlined its opposition to Israel's bulldozing Palestinian houses for a "two state" solution to the question by donating $534,000 to the aggrieved parties. Since the sentences, New Zealand has suspended relations with Israel, declaring that it wants no ministerial contacts for the foreseeable future, or a visit by Israeli President Moshe Katsav when he goes to Australia on state tour. New Zealand has already had enough of Mossad's katsas (secret agents).