New Zealand court hears allegations about suspected Mossad agents
Israeli spy 'used Canadian passports
April 22, 2004
Mossad, the Israeli spy agency, has been hit with new allegations
that its agents use Canadian passports to conduct foreign covert
The allegations surfaced yesterday in a courtroom in Auckland, New
The court heard that one of two men charged with participating in an
organized crime group to obtain a false passport had earlier
travelled into the country with a Canadian passport.
Urie Zoshe Kelman, 30, entered the country with Canadian
documentation five years ago, on Feb. 2, 1999, the court heard. His
stay lasted eight weeks and he left the country, headed for
Melbourne, Australia, using a temporary replacement Canadian passport
obtained while in New Zealand.
Senior government officials in New Zealand have told reporters there
that Mr. Kelman and Eli Cara, his 50-year-old co-accused, are agents
of Mossad, the Israeli foreign spy service.
"We're aware of the allegations, or the alleged information, that
surfaced in the court case in New Zealand. Nothing else can be added
at this time," said Reynald Doiron, a spokesman with Canada's
Department of Foreign Affairs.
While the Canadian government is keeping a close eye on the Auckland
court case -- it learned of the developments just two days ago --
there has been no official communication with the Israeli government.
Similar allegations have caused serious diplomatic problems in the
past. In 1997, Canada pulled its ambassador from Israel after two
Mossad agents were caught using Canadian passports during a failed
assassination attempt on Khalid Mashaal -- a leading Hamas official --
Israel assured Canada then that Canadian passports would no longer be
used for covert purposes.
However, the National Post reported in 2002 that an informant had
supplied information to Israeli agents posing as Canadians while on a
mission to locate a senior Hamas leader in Gaza. Militant Palestinian
leader Salah Shehadeh was later assassinated by Israeli forces in a
July 23 missile attack that also killed 14 others, including nine
The informant claimed he was recruited by three agents who said they
were Canadians and took him to the Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv
before coercing him with promises of travel to Canada and threats to
distribute fake photos showing him in sexual encounters.
"Mossad is, by tradition and culture, a rather singularly ruthless
intelligence organization," said intelligence expert Wesley Wark, a
professor at the University of Toronto. "It is one that sees its role
as defending the survival of Israel. From conversations I've had with
people in that world, it does take that mission very seriously. And
Mossad, unlike some other Western intelligence agencies, is
relatively unshackled by internal bureaucratic controls or Israeli
Mr. Doiron said it is too early to tell whether the co-accused in
this case are linked to Mossad. "We cannot conclude that at this
time," he said.
In fact, the passport numbers that have surfaced in court do not, at
first glance, appear to be authentic. Mr. Kelman flew to Auckland
from Los Angeles on Qantas Flight QF101 using Canadian passport CA PC
038241. He left March 30, 1999, flying to Melbourne, Australia on
Qantas Flight QF36 with a replacement passport bearing the same
Authentic Canadian passports have only two letters -- signifying the
year the document was issued -- and six letters.
A source said it would be surprising if Israel's meticulous
intelligence agency had in fact botched a passport forgery.
Contacted by the Post yesterday, Ofir Gendelman, second secretary
with the Israeli mission in Ottawa, said he was aware of the court
case, but unfamiliar with the allegations one of the men had used a
"That's news to me," he said. Mr. Gendelman refused to comment on how
an apparently bogus Canadian passport came to be in the possession of
an Israeli citizen. He would not answer charges that the men were
"We know nothing about it," he said.
Mr. Wark said Mossad has used Canadian passports in the past to avoid
suspicion when travelling the world, particularly the Middle East.
"While we have a history of pretty high level of negotiations and
very strong condemnations [from the Canadian government] in exchanges
with the Israelis requiring them to stop this practice, there's no
sign that those demarches have ever really had a serious effect," he
said. "If it's an operational necessity they'll use it."
The alleged criminal enterprise to obtain New Zealand passports was
discovered -- and charges laid against Mr. Kelman and Mr. Cara --
after Zev William Barkan, who is travelling on a U.S. passport, used
the name of a man with cerebral palsy to obtain a passport. A customs
investigator noticed an irregularity with the application and
telephoned the applicant.
He said he was suspicious because the person had "a Canadian or
American accent" according to the New Zealand Herald. Police launched
an investigation, which resulted in the March 20 arrest of the two
men and subsequent charges. Unusually, the case has been fast-tracked
Mr. Barkan has gone missing but police allege surveillance operations
linked him to Mr. Cara and Mr. Kelman.
It remains unknown why the men were in the country.
© National Post 2004
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