Mossad Passport Fraud

It has been asked why Mossad would bother about New Zealand. The immediate answer is that New Zealand passports are the most sought after. Passports are of major interest for Mossad. Former Mossad agent Victor Ovstrovsky writes of his training:

The next lecture was more to the point. It was delivered by Pinhas Aderet and had to do with documentation: passports, ID cards, credit cards, driver’s licenses, and so on. The most important Mossad documents are passports, and there are four qualities: top, second, field operation, and throwaway. [18]

Ovstrovsky reports on the extensive Mossad operations dealing with passports, their theft or forgery, including the manufacture of the special paper at a factory. He states:

When I viewed the factory as a trainee, I saw a large batch of blank Canadian passports. They must have been stolen. It looked like an entire shipment. There were over 1,000 of them…. The Mossad also have a major collection of passport stamps and signatures that they use to stamp their own passports.[19]

With the quality passports come full identity documentation, and cover stories.[20] This explains why the police were so concerned that an Israeli forensic team could have hacked the police intelligence database. Investigative journalist Nicky Hager, who has specialized on security intelligence matters, stated that secret information on the police national computer database would be highly valuable for espionage purposes. “You’ve got potential names you could steal and use, you’ve got all their backgrounds.”[21] The Dominion Post report on this aspect states:

It emerged yesterday that the Security Intelligence Service ordered a review of the national police computer system amid fears that Israeli agents had gained access to it after the Christchurch quake by loading sophisticated malware to obtain highly sensitive intelligence files.[22]

2004 Israeli Passport Fraud Debacle

Apologists for Israel are typically indignant that any such suspicions could be entertained. However, it is a matter of “one bitten, twice shy.” In 2004 there was a major diplomatic incident when Israelis in New Zealand were found to be stealing identities and faking passports. The New Zealand Herald broke the story in April 2004, stating that two men, believed to be Israeli secret service agents, were arrested in Auckland while trying to obtain a false New Zealand passport. They had been nabbed as part of a police operation. The Israeli Government wanted the matter kept out of the courts, but the Labour Government, would not bow to pressure. The two Israelis caught were Urie Zoshe Kelman and Eli Cara. Zev Barkan fled the country.

The group had been in and out of the country since last November. Cara, who says he is a Sydney-based travel agent, has travelled in and out 24 times since October 2000.  The court heard that the visits since last year were allegedly for the purpose of obtaining a false New Zealand identity for one of them. They allegedly made a passport application using a birth certificate of a cerebral palsy sufferer who authorities say was an innocent victim of the scam.[23]

A fourth man, Tony Resnick, who suddenly left New Zealand in March 2004, was a paramedic for St John’s Ambulance, and later a healthcare lecturer at Auckland University. It is believed that in his role as a paramedic he had visited the targeted sufferer of cerebral palsy. He was also a member of the NZ Jewish Council.

The Herald report referred to fraudulent Canadian passports used by Mossad in 1997 in a failed assassination attempt on an Islamic official in Jordan. In 2000 a Mossad operative was given a suspended sentence after being accused of espionage and repeated use of false identity documents in Switzerland.[24]

According to a Ha’aretz article, Kelman had entered New Zealand in 1999 on a Canadian passport, “Despite Israel’s promise to Canada that passports from that country would not be used in undercover operations.”[25] The matter of Israel having promised New Zealand in 2004 that such actions would not happen again has been raised by Labour Opposition Leader Phil Goff, who had at the time of the 2004 debacle been Foreign Minister. Goff has stated in regard to this and Prime Minister Key’s less than forthcoming approach to the current matter:

We were up-front about that at the time that it happened. I got an absolute assurance in writing from the Israeli minister of foreign affairs that this would not happen again. We need to be sure that it has not happened again.”[26]

One would have to be naïve to accept the word of the Israeli Government on anything.

Zev Barkan

There continues to be some quips on the amateurishness of the 2004 affair, and comments that Mossad would not foul up so appallingly. However, the presence of Zev Barkan at the time indicates that New Zealand is an important element in Mossad operations. Barkan is still wanted by New Zealand police is connection with the 2004 affair. A Southland Times report, reprinted in the Dominion Post, states of Barkan that “last year he was named one of 32 people Dubai police suspected of having a role in the assassination of Hamas military leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a hotel last January. Four fake Australian passports were used by the team responsible for the killing.”[27] Ambassador Tzur is naturally dismissive of any suggestion of a Mossad connection with the Christchurch matter, which he calls as “science fiction.” However he has also dismissed reports of Barkan’s involvement in the Mahmoud assassination, despite his admission that he knew little about the matter.[28]

Shortly after the trial of Kelman and Cara, Barkan was reported by the Sydney Morning Herald as being in North Korea, using a fraudulent Canadian passport,[29] with the name Kevin Hunter.[30] The question might be asked: what was a Mossad operative doing in North Korea, one of the so-called “Axis of Evil.” He was brought in as a “security consultant” to advise on building a “security wall”,[31] presumably of the type built in Israel to corral Palestinians. This indicates something of the covert diplomacy with states that are barely suspected of having any relationship with Israel.

In 2005, Barkan was named in the Cambodian media as “running a studio making snuff and porn movies in the Mekong River town of Pen Yauin in Cambodia.” In a professional studio, girls from New Zealand and Australia – students and tourists – were lured into thinking they were to become movie stars. At first they made porn in studios behind a bar in Phnom Phen, then branched out into films of hangings and killings of vagrants, and suicide films.[32]

Barkan seems to be the senior Mossad operative in this region. A Sydney Morning Herald report revealed:

The fugitive Israeli Mossad intelligence agent Zev Barkan has been dealing with Asian criminal gangs to obtain Australian and other passports stolen in Asia, a New Zealand aid worker has said.

Barkan has been named by New Zealand authorities as the kingpin in a passport scam for which two Israelis with Australian links were jailed for six months last week in Auckland.

Barkan fled New Zealand before police swooped. There are unconfirmed reports that Barkan, allegedly using a fraudulent Canadian passport, has since made visits to North Korea.

The New Zealand aid worker, who has intelligence connections in Asia, said Barkan was also connected to an Israeli security company operating out of Thailand.

“He goes to Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Thailand and deals with gangs who rob tourists of their valuables and passports,” the aid worker said.

“Barkan is mostly interested in passports and there have been a number of Australian passports.”

Intelligence analysts in New Zealand believe Barkan, a former navy diver in the Israeli Defense Force, was trying to secure a “clean” passport for use in a sensitive Israeli undercover operation in the region, less risky than a forged passport.

The Herald has also been told that Barkan had grown up in Washington as Zev Bruckenstein, where his father was director of religious studies at a synagogue.[33]

Several factors can be noted:

1. Barkan had a similar military background to those employed by Magnus international Search & Rescue (see below);

2. Barkan’s association with an “Israeli security company” in Thailand;

3. His association with organized crime.

Seemingly legitimate companies are used as fronts for Mossad operations; in this case a “security company;” in the USA at the time of 9/11 there was Urban Moving Systems. It is reasonable for New Zealand’s SIS and police to be suspicious of the search and rescue team led by an ex-Mossad agent and involving those with specialist military training similar to that of Barkan.