By Selwyn Manning – Scoop Co-Editor
Scoop understands that a high-powered New Zealand Government crisis meeting was held in the last week of March after the Prime Minister was informed that two suspected Mossad connectives had been arrested in Auckland.
The crisis meeting is believed to have involved the Prime Minister Helen Clark and several others. [Clarification: Scoop reported earlier that Labour Party President Mike Williams was at this meeting. According to the PM's office this information was incorrect. For the new information that has come to hand on the meetings CLICK HERE...]
Scoop understands the meeting examined information received from the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (SIS), New Zealand Police and its counter-terrorism unit, and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s sub-group External Assessments Bureau (EAB) – and mapped a blueprint of how New Zealand should handle the alleged spy threat.
An information security blanket was applied, keeping the lid on the operation while diplomatic manoeuvrings took place between the New Zealand Government, Israeli diplomats, and intelligence bodies in a number of countries within the western alliance.
Meanwhile, Israel continued its attempt to have New Zealand remove the passport case of the two alleged Mossad connectives from the courts. The New Zealand Government refused to do so.
It was decided to utilise a low level ministerial approach to initially complain to the Israel Government. Consequently, last week, acting Foreign Affairs Minister Jim Sutton hauled an Israeli diplomat to the Beehive for a dressing down. This tactic kept Prime Ministerial heat off the Israeli’s while the judicial process took its course.
Once news broke, the Prime Minister said: “The people involved in this case are Israeli citizens and the matter has been raised directly with the Israeli government, but I am not able to make further comment. There will be a strong and public response to this matter once the court action has concluded, “Helen Clark said.
One Scoop source confirmed yesterday that, despite popular belief, Mossad has only approximately 37 core-agents working from a centralized base in Israel – its operatives worldwide employ cell-structure tactics using sympathizers and secure-contractors, preferring people with links to a country they wish to spy upon. That way, when things go wrong, there is little known by the connectives on the ground, and the conduit to Mossad is difficult to pin down. This would also explain an apparent bungle by those allegedly involved in the passport scam.
A New Zealand Herald team, led by senior reporter Eugene Bingham, broke the story on Saturday (April 17). See… Foreign spy charges whip up top-level security storm .
Detailed information surfaced after the arrested pair appeared for a second time on Friday April 16 at the Auckland District Court.
There, Police revealed how the sting, codenamed Operation Cloak resulted in two arrests on March 23:
Before Judge Chris Field, Urie Zoshe Kelman, 30, and Eli Cara, 50, denied three joint charges including attempting to obtain a New Zealand passport and participating in an organised crime group to obtain a false passport.
Police were represented by Auckland-based prosecutor Fletcher Pilditch - Solicitor General Office (Wellington) has also taken an interest – represented by Terence Arnold QC. Lawyers for the accused are: Grant Illingworth, QC representing Eli Cara - and Nigel Faigan representing Uriel Zoshe Kelman.
Also wanted by New Zealand Police are: Zev William Barkan (37) (likely to be a false name). Police believe Barkan has fled from New Zealand. Another unnamed fourth suspect is believed to be in hiding within New Zealand.
A Scoop offshore intelligence source said: “My take on this case is that these guys would be trying to develop a strong legend for the NZ passport user.”
This considered, the true identity of Barkan is unlikely to ever be known.
Eli Cara insists he is a Sydney-based travel agent. Police say Cara has traveled in and out of New Zealand 24 times since October 2000. However, no records can be discovered in Australian companies office records. Cara was staying at Auckland's President Plaza hotel. His co-accused Uriel Kelman was staying at the Kiwi Hotel in Queen St and at the Duxton Hotel. He has Israeli and Canadian passports.
The Scoop source said: “Mossad will be employing a wide range of people to roll up the operation as we speak. Australian travel agency details will be rolled up, records will disappear, brief cases and laptops will be stolen. “These guys have the ability to put together a Islamic terror cell, carry out a bombing in Australia or NZ and pin it on Al Qaeda or some new Palestinian Jihad group. Smooth operators. You’ve got to take your hat off to them, real brains,” the Scoop source said.
Australia’s Herald Sun Sunday newspaper reported Australian Attorney-General Philip Ruddock’s office confirming the Australian security intelligence organization (ASIO) has also been investigating the matter.
Other contacts suggested that 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, the Herald Sun reported. ASIO would not be investigating the case unless they suspected the pair was undeclared spies," the source said. Also, Israel's acting ambassador to NZ and Australia, Orna Sagiv, said yesterday she would not comment until the court proceedings had been completed.
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