Hunt On For Israeli Spy Ring in Australia

NOT REAL HAPPY, JOHN


An interesting article on a Spy Ring that is currently causing a lot of damage to the relationship between Israel and Australia and New Zealand. These apparent 'spies' show a level of idiocy not seen since the rainbow warrior affair when French Terrorists left a trail a mile wide in their attempts to flee after the bombing of the Greenpeace Flagship in Auckland harbour.

Hunt On For Israeli Spy Ring in Australia
Lincoln Wright
The Herald Sun - Australia
17-4-04

The nation's spy-catchers are investigating a suspected Israeli spy ring in Australia.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has been investigating the suspected cell for up to a month.

Two Israeli citizens appeared in an Auckland court on Friday charged with passport fraud.

One of them, Eli Cara, claimed to be a Sydney travel agent. He has travelled to New Zealand 24 times since October 2000.

Cara, 50, and Zoshe Kelman, 30, faced three charges after being arrested in a police sting operation late last March.

Another Israeli, Zev William Barkan, 37, escaped from NZ. A fourth man is believed to be in hiding.

The men are suspected of being Mossad agents, who allegedly were gathering fake NZ passports.

Fake passports are used by intelligence bodies to help their agents travel undercover.

Mossad, the Israeli secret service, has been accused previously of illegally using Canadian passports.

A spokesman for Attorney-General Philip Ruddock confirmed yesterday that ASIO had been investigating the matter.

He said ASIO had been in touch with its NZ counterparts.

He said the two Israelis had applied for a passport using the birth certificate of a person with cerebral palsy.

NZ police staged a surveillance operation of the site where the passport was sent on March 23. The two Israelis were also staking out the site, but were then arrested.

Cara was sitting in a cafe, while Kelman was arrested walking away after throwing his mobile phone into a bush.

After the pair was released on bail, Cara denied being a Mossad agent when asked about his arrest.

Intelligence sources told the Sunday Herald Sun that the NZ arrests would have set off alarm bells at ASIO headquarters in Canberra.

If Israel had gone to the trouble of setting up a genuine business in Sydney as a front for spying, then that would be an extraordinary step, a source said.

ASIO would not be investigating the case unless they suspected the pair was undeclared spies," the source said.

Israel (as with other countries) could declare its spies to ASIO, and the security service would know who was who at the country's embassy in Canberra.

"But some countries have undeclared spies, which is seen as pretty sneaky - and snaky," another source said.

The time and expense of running a genuine business front would indicate a deep commitment to an operation in Sydney or the South Pacific.

NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark has refused to confirm whether the arrested men were Mossad agents. But she has contacted the Israeli government about the case.

In the late 1970s, Israel was rumoured to have set up a spy ring in Melbourne to keep an eye on anti-Israeli activists.

Israel's acting ambassador to NZ and Australia, Orna Sagiv, said yesterday she would not comment until the court proceedings had been completed.

"There are two Israeli citizens there before the justice system, but it's better to wait before coming to conclusions," she said.

A former Israeli Defence Force officer expressed surprise at the clumsiness of the operation, but added authorities could not be sure the charged men's names were real if they were Mossad agents.

"Israel has spies everywhere, but Mossad is usually more professional than that," the IDF officer said.

Mossad generally was quite careful about whom it sent undercover, preferring people with links to the country they were spying upon.

"The aim is to blend into the local community," the officer said. "These agents have layers and layers of false identities."

A search of Australian company and title records revealed that Cara has no listed business or property interests in NSW or Victoria.

Public information contained on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission database shows that Cara, Kelman and Barkan are not involved with listed companies or own property in the two states.

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