How an Australian reporter homed in on Mossad agent Ben Zygier

The Guardian reports: For Jason Koutsoukis, the Australian journalist who first investigated allegations that Ben Zygier was a Mossad agent, the claims initially sounded “outlandish”.

In 2009, while living in Jerusalem and filing stories to the Australian Fairfax group, Koutsoukis was contacted by an anonymous source with connections to the intelligence world.

The story that the source told over a series of conversations was indeed extraordinary.

The source named three Australians with joint Israeli citizenship whom, he said, were working for a front company set up by Mossad in Europe selling electronic equipment to Iran and elsewhere.

“I was tipped off in October 2009,” Koutsoukis told the Guardian on Wednesday, recalling the events that would lead to his calling Zygier at his home in Jerusalem and accusing him of being an Israeli spy.

“The story was that Mossad was recruiting Australians to spy for them using a front company in Europe. It all seemed too good to be true.

“But what I was told seemed to check out. The company did exist. I also managed to establish that Zygier and another of the individuals had worked for it. I wasn’t able to confirm the third name.

“I was told too that the Australian authorities were closing in on Zygier and that he might even be arrested.

“There was other stuff about Zygier. In Australia you can change your name once a year. He’d done it four times I think, but they were beginning to get suspicious. I also found out that he had applied for a work visa for Italy in Melbourne.”

The repeated changes of name would have allowed Zygier to create new identities and multiple passports. [Continue reading...]

The Sydney Morning Herald adds: It is understood the ASIO [Australia's domestic intelligence agency] investigation into Mr Zygier and the two other men began at least six months before the January 10, 2010, assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, widely believed to have been carried out by Mossad using passports obtained from Australia and Europe.

Three of those suspected of taking part in the assassination were travelling on Australian passports, using the names of dual Australian-Israeli citizens, authorities in Dubai confirmed.

There is no suggestion that the three Australian names linked to Mabhouh’s assassination are connected to Mr Zygier or the other men being investigated by ASIO.

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