The current diplomatic crisis involving Israel’s secret service and the British government is not the first time that Mossad has been accused of using foreign passports to carry out illegal operations in foreign countries.
In October 2004, relations between New Zealand and Israel were severely strained by a similar scandal. Two Mossad agents pleaded guilty in court to attempting to steal passports from disabled people in New Zealand. The Court sentenced them to six months in prison and they were then expelled from the country.
Having written numerous books on the subject, Gordon Thomas is an expert on Mossad. He said: “They have a unit, a special team who are trained in lifting passports, from holidaymakers
usually. The specialist areas are Malaga, Marbella – Southern Spain and Thailand, countries like that.”
And before New Zealand, in Lausanne in Switzerland, in July 2000, a Mossad agent was given a suspended one year sentence having been caught by the Swiss police in the act of installing a telephone bugging system in the home of a Lebanese businessman living in Switzerland. Four other Mossad agents were also arrested although in the end they were not charged.
But Mossad’s reputation was hardly spotless even before the Swiss affair. In 1997, two Mossad agents, posing as Canadian tourists (and travelling on stolen Canadian passports) tried to assassinate exiled Hamas chief Khaled Mechaal in Jordan. But they were arrested and King Hussein of Jordan intervened in the affair, making Israel produce the antidote to the poison.
The upshot of the scandal was that in order to repatriate their Mossad agents, Israel was forced to free Hamas’ founder and spiritual leader
Sheikh Ahmad Yasin from prison. That time, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahou, sacked Dany Yatom, the head of Mossad.