(WMR)—Only the Mossad would be so arrogant to believe that a 47-year old Israeli national found floating in the open waters of the South Pacific with water proof bags containing two mobile phones, a laptop computer, papers, but no passport would not engender any suspicion. But that is exactly what happened in the self-governing New Zealand territory of the Cook Islands on October 14 last year when boaters coaxed Israeli national Binjamin Nachshon from waters about a mile off Avarua, the capital of the Cook Islands.
Nachshon was found in the waters a month and a half after the leaders of the member nations of the Pacific Islands Forum met in the Cook Islands, a meeting that was also attended by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a dialogue partner of the forum.
Nachshon entered the Cook Islands on July 14 with a German passport. He was found floating off Avarua exactly three months to the day that his three-month tourist visa had expired. Nachshon was present in the Cook Islands during the time that Rarotonga and the island of Aitutaki, 45 miles north of Raratonga were preparing for and hosting the 2012 Pacific Islands Forum.
The Cook Islands News on January 17 also reported on another interesting aspect of Nachshon’s stay in the Cook Islands. He violated his tourist visa when he was found “doing some electronic equipment repairs” for some Aitutaki islanders during the preparations for the summit held on One Foot Island, a remote island that hosted the 16-nation Pacific leaders summit. In preparation for Mrs. Clinton’s visit to the Cook Islands, U.S. Navy, Secret Service, and Diplomatic Security Service personnel swept through Avarua on Rarotonga: Arutanga, the main town on Aitutaki; and One Foot Island or Tapuaetai, the latter remote resort island where the heads of government summit took place. Hotels, motor routes, airports, and marinas were thoroughly checked. U.S. Navy ships from Hawaii also patrolled Cook Islands waters. The head of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, accompanies Clinton to the Cook Islands.
Oddly, Israel’s ambassador to New Zealand, Shemi Tzur, who resides in Canberra but is also accredited to the Cook Islands, Tonga, Samnoa, Niue, and New Zealand, was in the Cook Islands on a rare visit the same week that Nachshon was found floating off Avarua.
New Zealand has had Israeli nationals under close scrutiny since it was discovered that a team of Mossad agents were trying to illegally obtain New Zealand passports, an incident that resulted in the suspension of relations between Israel and New Zealand during the previous Labor government of Prime Minister Helen Clark. The current Prime Minister, John Key, who is technically Jewish in Israeli eyes having had a Jewish mother, had his own scandal involving Mossad agents in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake.
Two Mossad agents, Uriel Zoshe Kelman and Eli Cara, were arrested and imprisoned in 2004 after they were caught trying to obtain New Zealand passports. New Zealand later discovered that a Mossad “passport factory” had been issuing forged New Zealand passports. In January 2010, Mossad used three forged Australian passports for its agents to gain entry to Dubai where they assassinated Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.
Kelman’s and Cara’s control officer, Zev William Barkan, was able to flee to Australia and avoid arrest. WMR has reported that Barkan has surfaced on numerous occasions in North Korea where he is believed to be the unofficial Mossad liaison with the North Korean military that governs with Kim Jong Un as a figurehead. Barkan has also reportedly provided North Korea with Israeli technology to erect an electronic/physical border wall to prevent North Koreans from escaping to China.
There was a seven-member Mossad team in Christchurch during the February 22, 2011 destructive 6.3 earthquake. One of the four members of the Mossad team died in the quake. He was Ofwer Benyamin Mizrahi from a kibbutz near Haifa. The remaining three—Michal Fraidman, Liron Sade, Guy Jordan, as well as an unidentified fourth Israeli, immediately fled the country. One of the dead Mossad agents was found to be carrying at least five passports, at least one of them from an unnamed European country. The fleeing Israelis reportedly met with Israeli diplomats in New Zealand before exfiltration by airplane could be arranged. In the wake of the quake, air travel in and out of New Zealand was heavily disrupted with a number of canceled flights. Yet the Israelis were able to get out.
Later, an unaccredited Israeli “search and rescue” team was found by armed New Zealand officers inside the restricted “red zone” of the city and were expelled from the exclusion zone. Opposition Labor leader Phil Goff later said that Key failed to “come clean” on the presence of the Israelis in Christchurch and failed to explain his four phone conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu following the discovery of the dead Israeli agent. Key refused to fully describe the content of his conversations with Netanyahu and waffled on whether the Mossad team and the Israeli search and rescue team caught in Christchurch were threats to national security. Key said it would not be in the national interest to discuss the presence of the Israelis.
Key did not say whose national interest he was referring, New Zealand’s or Israel’s.
Although Israel can rely on its share of “sayanim,” (embedded pro-Israeli Jews) in the New Zealand government and business, most notably Samoan-Jewish MP Taito Philiip Field and Friends of Israel president Tony Kan, New Zealand’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies remain on guard against Mossad interference in the country.
Israel’s ambassador Tzur immediately flew to Christchurch and visited the morgue where the dead Israeli Mizrahi was taken. Two other Israeli “backpackers,” Ofer Levy and Gabi Ingel, were also killed on the quake. Tzur denied any knowledge of the confrontation between the Israeli search and rescue team caught in the red zone and the New Zealand officers. The Israeli team was caught inside the Christchurch police headquarters and were suspected of trying to upload, via a flash drive, a Stuxnet-like malware program into the national police computer network that would give Mossad unfettered access to sensitive law enforcement and intelligence files. The New Zealand Secret Intelligence Service (NZSIS) has been on the alert for Mossad activities in New Zealand ever since. With NZSIS having jurisdiction over the Cook Islands, that alert has extended there and to the other New Zealand territories of Niue and Tokelau, the former self-governing like the Cook Islands.
Ever since the revelations of Mossad activity in New Zealand, New Zealand police and intelligence services have kept a close eye on Israelis entering New Zealand. Nachshon, of course, concealed his actual identity by using a German passport.
Israel has jealously guarded its diplomatic ties with the South Pacific states since they can be generally relied upon to vote with Israel in the UN General Assembly, especially on resolutions dealing with Palestinian rights. One Pacific nation, Fiji, suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum since a military government seized power in 2009, nevertheless, has its allies within the Forum. Fiji, along with its Melanesian Spearhead Group partner of the Solomon Islands, have established diplomatic links with Iran and that has Israel worried. There are reports that possibly thanks to some Melanesian member nations acting on a special request by suspended member Fiji, the Cook Islands summit drew some guests from Iran among the 50 nations and international organizations that were represented as dialogue partners, observers, and guests. Nachshon’s “electronic equipment repair” work on Aitutaki may be an all-too-typical Israeli description of communications eavesdropping. Israeli spies, when caught, are adept at convincing police and other investigators that their motives are, in no way, connected to intelligence and they say it with a straight face.
Israel and Taiwan conduct “checkbook diplomacy” in the South Pacific to maintain diplomatic allies. Although Israel’s aid to the island states is miniscule as compared to that given by the cash-flush Taiwanese, Israel has provided minor irrigation, sports, medical treatment, and education assistance to its Pacific allies, which Israel calls its “moral minority” in the UN.
It is not known whether Israel and Taiwan cooperate on Pacific diplomacy as much as they have on nuclear weapons procurement in the past, but the “Mossad floater” Nachshon was listed in the Taiwan Yellow Pages as maintaining a residence in Taipei. Taiwan also sent unofficial guests to the Pacific Islands Forum summit. Meanwhile, Mossad and Israel can claim plausible deniability in the Nachshon case. Because he carries a German passport, Nachshon’s interests are being taken care of by the German embassy in Wellington. Nachshon is said to have waded into the sea and swam to what now appears to have been a prearranged datum where he was to be recovered by a surface craft, sea plane, or a submarine.
When the crew of the whaling research vessel Akura threw Nachshon a life ring, he refused it, saying his situation was a “long story,” according to the Cook Islands News.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
Copyright © 2013 WayneMadenReport.com
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).