Mossad’s “Borrowed” Passports: Worth the Trouble?


Ben Zygier passport
Ben Zygier passport (screen capture from Channel 10, via Haaretz)


An interesting recap article in Haaretz today reviews the recent history of Mossad’s practice of “borrowing” passports from recent immigrants to use in operations. The hook: it appears Ben Zygier – the so-called Prisoner X – may have been about to spill the beans about this practice to Australian authorities. The article poses the question: is “borrowing” passports now causing Israel more problems than it solves?

As you’ll recall, the most spectacular recent example of this long-time Mossad practice was the 2010 hit on Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai (the seed from which grew Doha 12). Zygier’s passport wasn’t one of those used, although three other Australian identities were involved, and INTERPOL still has questions ready for the people who carried those doctored documents during the hit.

While it’s rare to find people who will admit to voluntarily lending their passports to Mossad, Haaretz repeats a Times of London story reporting just this very thing happening to two young men (one from Britain, the other from France):

Both young men, during their service in the Israel Defense Forces, were approached by a woman who identified herself as a Mossad official, who asked them to “lend” their passports to her for about 18 months while they were still in the army. When the passports were returned, they contained stamps from a variety of countries, including Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkey. The two men were advised not to visit those countries over the next few years.

Haaretz goes on to ask if there isn’t a better way for Mossad to build cover identities for its operatives, given the danger to the passport donors and the international fallout whenever this scheme goes bad.

Mossad didn’t ask Jake or Miriam for their passports, and look how that turned out…

Read the complete Haaretz story here:


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