The role of Mossad in Australia is largely ignored by our media elites. Who are they and what do they do? A rare ray of sunshine appeared in today’s Australian:
The idea of Mossad operating in Dubai or other Middle East areas would not surprise most people, but Australians may be surprised at Mossad agents in Canberra.
Since the killing of a Hamas leader in Dubai in January, Mossad has been held up to unprecedented scrutiny.
Among the information that has emerged is the revelation that Mossad has an officer based in the Israeli embassy in Canberra.
Confirmation of Mossad’s Australian presence has emerged by Canberra’s insistence on “the London model” — code for Mossad’s Australian bureau chief being expelled rather than a Foreign Ministry official.
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said yesterday he was asking for an Israeli diplomat to be withdrawn from Canberra because there was “no doubt” Israel was responsible for counterfeiting four Australian passports. Israel refuses to confirm or deny Mossad’s involvement in the killing.
In private talks between Australian and Israeli officials, Australia has used the term “London model”, meaning they want to do what Britain did in March and insist a Mossad agent be expelled rather than a diplomat.
The Israeli embassy in Canberra has six Foreign Ministry officials and a commercial attache. On top of that is the Mossad agent, whose name Israel declares.
Countries deemed to be “friendly” to Australia, such as Israel and the US, declare their intelligence officers. Much of their job is liaising with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service.
A reciprocal arrangement operates — Australia declares to governments such as the US and Indonesia the names of an agreed number of intelligence officers operating in its embassies.
Jakarta has the largest number of ASIS officers, believed to be about 10, because of the threat of groups such as Jemaah Islamiah which have targeted Australians.
Some of the ASIS officers are attached to the embassy and others avoid any contact with the embassy to give them a greater chance of operating out of sight of the host country.
Their job is to cultivate contacts in the government and military who may give information to help detect in advance anything that may harm Australians. Such contacts are usually paid.
Given the relationship between Israel and Australia, it is unlikely Mossad would try to pay Australian officials. Rather, Mossad would be interested in anyone in Australia who might pose a threat to Israel.
In recent years, some Australians have had their passports cancelled, on ASIO’s recommendation, to stop them going overseas. Often the major concern has been that the individuals might be planning to travel to the Middle East to engage in an act of terrorism against Israel.
Israel wants to find out about such individuals in the source country rather than allowing them to enter Israel.
The Mossad officer in Australia can engage in his own investigations but the majority of his work would be trying to find out what Australian authorities are learning about Islamist groups.
Much of the information gathered by ASIO and ASIS is not accessible to Mossad — Australian intelligence officers are not permitted to share information branded AUSTEO, or Australian Eyes Only — but an effective Mossad officer would develop relationships with ASIO and ASIS officials and learn as much as possible about groups of concern.
Mossad is not the only Middle East intelligence service working in Australia — it is known in intelligence circles in Australia that informants from Syria, Lebanon and Iran operate around Lakemba in western Sydney.
One wonders, though, what this figure really could find out, considering the lack of transparency in the Jewish state:
The head of Australia’s Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO ), David Irvine, paid a secret visit to Israel earlier this month as part of an investigation into the use of forged Australian passports. Irvine’s conclusions swayed the government in Canberra to decide that Israel was behind the passport forgery, and yesterday Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told parliament that the Mossad liaison officer in Australia would be asked to leave the country.