The implication is clear: Australia has apparently become a convenient passport factory for Israeli agents.
AUSTRALIAN passports are basically very safe, according to Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard. And so they are, if ''very safe'' is measured by head counts. Most people can leave the country and return to it without risk of their passports being used to create fake identities for members of assassination squads dispatched by foreign intelligence agencies. As the world now knows, however, three Victorians living in Israel, Joshua Bruce, Adam Korman and Nicole McCabe, were among 26 people from several countries whose passport details appear to have been stolen and used in precisely that way. Although Israel has maintained its usual practice of neither confirming nor denying involvement in what it calls ''targeted killings'', the assassination in Dubai last month of a Hamas operative, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, is generally believed to have been the work of the Israeli secret service, Mossad, whose agents are said to have used stolen identities to enter and leave the Gulf state.
The governments of Australia and the other nations whose citizens' identities were used - Britain, Ireland, France and Germany - have all issued strong diplomatic protests at the misappropriation, though without directly accusing Israel of responsibility for it. The diplomatic niceties were preserved in Foreign Minister Stephen Smith's judiciously phrased statement that ''If the results of that investigation [by ASIO and the Australian Federal Police] cause us to come to the conclusion that the abuse of Australian passports was sponsored or condoned by Israeli officials, then Australia would not regard that as the act of a friend''.
( Collapse )
I don't know about you, but I'd be pretty freaked out if my passport, and therefore my identity, was used in a political assassination because god only knows who might want to pay a little visit for some payback.
It's a little bit like The Rainbow Warrior all over again, except instead of France it's Israel.
Can you imagine the ruckus if this had been a group of Iranian operatives using US passports instead?
*Links are highlighted- these all come from The Age, Melbourne, Australia.