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Warren Reed, a retired officer with Australia’s overseas intelligence service ASIS, said the Zygier affair could endanger compatriots who might now be mistaken for Mossad spies while travelling in areas hostile to Israelis.
“This poses a threat to a lot of people, especially journalists who move around frequently,” Reed told Reuters.
While all intelligence agencies work with assumed or filched identities, Reed argued, Mossad creates a bigger probability of reprisals by “by being more severe in its actions, given Israel’s security predicament”.
These actions are reputed to include assassinations, such as of a Palestinian weapons procurer in Dubai in 2010, in which the suspected Israeli hit-team used forged Australian and European passports.
The Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida quoted unidentified Western sources on Thursday as saying Zygier took part in the Dubai operation and offered information on the killing of Mahmoud al-Mahbouh in return for the emirate’s protection.
In another twist, Australia’s Fairfax Media said Australian security officials suspected Zygier may have been about to disclose Israeli intelligence operations, including the use of fraudulent Australian passports, either to the Canberra government or to the media before his arrest.
Israel has not confirmed publicly that Zygier was a Mossad operative. But Avigdor Feldman, a criminal attorney who met Zygier in his isolated jail cell a day or two before his death, appeared to let slip that he was indeed a spy.
“The Mossad liaison I was in touch with informed me that, unfortunately, my client was no longer alive,” Feldman told Israel’s Kol Barama radio station.
Nick Pratt, a retired U.S. Marines colonel and CIA officer now with the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, took a forgiving view of Mossad passport tactics.