'Fake identity' Brits warned that their lives are in danger

A former Mossad colonel says revenge attacks on the six real passport holders could be on the cards

The lives of the six British citizens whose identities were stolen by a Mossad assassination team are in danger, and they should not even consider leaving their homes in Israel for at least two years, a former senior officer in the Israeli intelligence agency warned yesterday. The British relatives of those whose passports were used by Mossad should also be aware of the risk of revenge attacks for the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, one of the founders of Hamas's military wing, in Dubai last month, he added.

Victor Ostrovsky, a former colonel in Mossad, said: "If they go outside the country, why wouldn't they be a target? For Hamas, just to send a message."

A lieutenant commander in the Israeli navy before being recruited by Mossad, the former agent and author of The Other Side of Deception – which the Israeli government tried to ban in the 1990s – said the men should not try to travel abroad: "They're safe so to speak, until somebody kills them. I would tell them: do not travel outside the country for at least two years, under any circumstances."

Six of the passports used by the 11 suspected assassins used the identities of men with dual British and Israeli citizenship. Three Irish passports were also used, along with one French and one German passport.

Michael Barney, 54, one of those whose details were used, said this weekend: "I'm very angry, I'm very upset: it's quite frightening."

Another member of the six, Paul Keeley, 42, admitted last week: "I'm afraid for my life." His father, John, said that it was "out of order" that his son's name had been released and added: "Having his name bandied around like this is just crazy."

Another of those named, James Clarke, 47, has apparently disappeared over the past few days. Residents of the Givat-Hashlosha kibbutz in central Israel believe he has gone into hiding, according to Israeli media reports.

Israel has also put its own citizens at risk of becoming targets, Mr Ostrovsky claimed. "The Arab world is inclined to believe any kind of rumour or myth, so there's really not a lot to stop people from saying, 'Yes, well, they're saying they didn't agree [for their passports to be used], but in fact they're probably Mossad people who gave their permission, and if they are, they're legitimate targets or their families are' – and me saying that doesn't actually make it happen, but what it does is maybe say to people: watch out because that's what they're thinking."

He slammed the "amateurish" style of the operation, saying it reflected the "internal arrogance of an agency that has no checks and balances". As an insight into the attitudes of the assassins, he said: "In their opinion they killed a really bad guy. So why would anybody care?"

The blunders that enabled the Dubai police to produce footage and pictures of the suspects were the result of a rushed operation, claimed Mr Ostrovsky: "This large number of people involved is absolute proof of the urgency of what happened, because you don't need as many people if you have time to plan."

The assassins would have been pulled in from other operations in Europe, and intelligence services are now examining travel movements in the six months before the killing, which is when the faked passports were first used, according to the former spy. The pictures of the suspects have also compromised other missions and have done "phenomenal" damage to Israeli intelligence, he said.

It also emerged yesterday that the Dubai police are now investigating credit card accounts used to purchase the plane tickets for the hit squad, with the chief of police, Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan, having called for Interpol to put out an arrest warrant for the head of Mossad if Israel is found to be behind the killing.

Diplomatic tensions are now building, with the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, branding the use of the passports as "an outrage". He will come face to face with the Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, at a meeting in Brussels tomorrow, when Mr Miliband will demand full cooperation with Britain's investigation into the forged passports.

This is not the first time Mossad has been caught using foreign passports, with a string of documented incidents stretching back decades.

Nevertheless, he said, Mossad's "passport factory" capable of creating foreign identities for its agents, is not the only intelligence agency to use foreign passports. "Working under a foreign flag has not been invented by Israelis. I'm sure a lot of British MI6 people have been everything but Israeli."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before