12 March 2010

Iranians and Turks with fake Israeli passports

I have read first two reports: by Kateland and by colleague Elder of Ziyon, both based on a Maariv article (in Hebrew). The essence of the reports is that:

...three Iranians were caught at an airport in Seychelles trying to use stolen Israeli passports. The Iranians were sent back on a flight to Nairobi, Kenya, from where they came.

Seychelles authorities passed the information to Israeli authorities, who found that the passports were stolen from Israelis who traveled to Thailand last year.
The general concern, which I fully share:
Israeli authorities fear that this was the precursor to a terror attack in the archipelago, which has been advertising heavily to attract Israelis on Passover vacation this year. Charter airlines now go directly to Seychelles from Israel.
Maariv also carries an attractive picture of the island:

I am not sure, though, about its relevance, but why not? In addition, Maariv claims that 15,000 (fifteen thousand) Israeli passports disappear every year. Wow...

Anyhow, I have decided to wait for a while with that story, and indeed, a new article in Ynet (in English this time) looks somewhat better researched.
In the past few weeks, more then 10 Iranian nationals were caught carrying forged Israeli passports, Israel's leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported Wednesday. The information came from reports relayed to Israeli embassies in Japan, Thailand, and India. In the last several months, Pakistani and Turkish citizens were also caught with fake Israeli passports.
And the reason seems to be not necessarily related to the terrorism business, rather to business business:
The Israeli passport is considered to be one of the easiest passports to forge and can be purchased in Asia, and especially in Thailand's markets, for anywhere from USD 500 to 2000. The Israeli passport is in great demand because people carrying it can enter Asian countries without a visa.
Of course, the threat of terrorists using same passports for their nefarious purposes shouldn't be discounted. On the other hand, there is no need to exaggerate the situation, like Maariv had done, since:
In 2004, six hundred Israelis reported their passports stolen in Asia. In 2005, the number increased dramatically.
Still, it's a far cry from 15,000. Another article, from Sky News Blogs, seems to settle (at least) the issue of the three Iranians caught in Seychelles:
A Israeli government source has told Sky News it understands the incident happened but does not believe there was any terror threat. The Iranians are believed to have been refugees who were using the passports in order to enter the Seychelles with a view to travelling on to a first world destination in search of a better life.
I would say that in a case like this we shouldn't be too prissy and mind a few forged passports... like some other people I don't want to mention here. The more the merrier, I would even add.

Now to the comic element of the story. From Ynet:
Another Iranian who was caught in Japan with a fake Israeli passport was caught when the name in his passport belonged to a female. The Iranian replaced the picture, but didn't bother changing the name.
Beef up on your Hebrew next time, doofus...

And from that Sky News blog - its headline says: Forged Passports: Is It Catching On?

Such naivety from a seasoned journalist... surely forged documents are as old as the first clay tablet... nay, as a first stone tablet... oh well...

Cross-posted on Yourish.com


soccerdhg said...

A report on Ynet says:

"Israel's leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth ..."

That would be like me writing: "The world's leading blogger, Soccer Dad ..."

Of course, if we're dealing with circulation, I suppose Ynet does have a point.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Now, SD, you have mentioned two facts that bear repeating. Of course, they sound better when aired by other people ;)

David All said...

Undoubtedly forging passports for fun and profit is a big business. Beautiful picture of the Seychelles

OT: Snoopy, thanks for posting in your top left hand column about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) shutting down at the end of 2011 for a year. In which case the world will supposedly end in 2013 instead of 2012. Will have to revise my plans accordingly. (simile)  

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Yes, the money remained shouldn't be all spent in 2010 then.