January 2010

10TELAVIV140, IN DEPTH: DEAD SEA COSMETICS AND SKINCARE INDUSTRY FRAUD

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10TELAVIV140 2010-01-25 05:37 2011-08-24 01:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tel Aviv

VZCZCXYZ0008
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTV #0140/01 0250537
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 250537Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5076
INFO RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 8617
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 3571
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHDC

UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000140

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR CA/FPP, SARAH SEXTON
CA/FPP: PLEASE PASS DOL
CA/FPP: PLEASE PASS DOJ
CA/FPP: PLEASE PASS FPMS
DEPT FOR DS/IP/NEA
DEPT FOR DS/DO/ICI
DHS FOR CIS/FDNS
DHS FOR CBP
DHS FOR ICE
ROME FOR DHS/ICE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS ASEC KFRD KCRM CMGT PINR IS

SUBJECT: IN DEPTH: DEAD SEA COSMETICS AND SKINCARE INDUSTRY FRAUD

REFTEL: A) 09 TEL AVIV 423

1.(SBU) SUMMARY: Tel Aviv has been investigating visa fraud in the
U.S. Dead Sea Cosmetics and skincare industry since 2007, when it
became a noticeable problem. From September 2008, Dead-Sea related
fraud has been one of Tel Aviv’s Fraud Prevention Unit’s (FPU)and
Assistant Regional Security Officer-Investigator’s (ARSO-I) main
foci. Since then Tel Aviv has learned a great deal about the
multi-million dollar industry and its fraudulent activities. Of
particular concern is that the majority of the workers in this
industry are Israeli, whether they are B1B2 visa holders, LPRs or
dual American-Israelis; key companies have told us that they prefer
to hire Israelis instead of Americans. Of late, the industry has
been using its kiosk marketing experience to branch out into related
fields: hair straighteners, hair extensions, hair accessories and
other assorted items such as other types of cosmetics, perfumes,
pillows, toys, wind spinners and even, roasted nuts.

The Dead Sea industry has spread to more than 36 states, creating a
major presence across America. This industry also operates in
countries like Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and Germany.
Unfortunately, its U.S. presence is not entirely “clean,” for there
are known issues of B1B2 visa holders working illegally; illegal
worker exploitation; no federal or local taxes being paid on
workers’ earnings; filing applications for extensions and/or changes
of status as a means of continuing illegal work; bogus marriages to
keep key staff in the United States; B1 in lieu of H3 letter and H3
visa scams; non-transparent corporate structures established to
create distance from illegal workers; transport of huge sums of cash
to Israel suggesting organized crime and money laundering; as well
as an increased number of real estate ventures that suggest the
same. Moreover, it is culturally acceptable for post-army Israelis
to work illegally in the United States; key parts of the Dead Sea
industry have been able to base a large part of their business
models upon the employment of illegal workers.

These issues and other important topics of concern will be
delineated in this lengthy background cable. The unifying factor is
that all of these issues have wider implications. Aside from the
criminal aspects of this fraud, a key implication is the increased
visa revocation/refusal and denial of entry rates for post-army
Israelis, which among other things, complicate Israel’s high-profile
desire to join the Visa Waiver Program. Contact information for
readers who wish to receive e-mail updates is available at the end
of this cable. END SUMMARY

——————————————–
H2B Workers Capped – B1B2 Workers Essential
——————————————–
2.(SBU)The number of H2B workers has been capped at 66,000 per
fiscal year, with 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in
the 1st half of the fiscal year. From 1 Oct-31 Dec 2009, Tel Aviv
issued 283 H2Bs-all for the Dead Sea industry. Our experience tells
us that there are far more than 283 Israelis working at kiosks
across the United States–we suspect the numbers to be in the
thousands; those additional, illegal workers are mainly B1B2 visa
holders as that path is far cheaper and less hassle than filing
petitions, and etc. The Dead Sea industry knows it cannot sustain
itself with just H2B, H3, J1 SWT, E and L visa and American-Israeli
workers. Thus, B1B2 workers (B1B2ers) are vital to their oft-stated
plans to employ only Israelis. Further, an argument can be made
that these companies are hiring in a discriminatory fashion in that
their main goal is to hire Israeli workers to the exclusion of
others. To illustrate how crucial B1B2ers are to these companies:
say a Dead Sea company has 2-4 kiosks in nine medium-sized
metropolitan-area malls with 2-3 workers per kiosk. Assume 3 kiosks
per mall and 2-3 workers per kiosk. The number of workers ranges
from 54-81 in this area with just ONE company. Now, extrapolate
that scenario across the United States. With the hundreds of Dead
Sea companies and thousands of kiosks in existence, it becomes clear
that Israeli-Americans, H2Bs, Js, etc. cannot sustain the Israeli
workforce plan–B1B2ers do. Given that there are many more kiosks
now than several years ago, it becomes more obvious that the decline
in H2Bs and the rise in B1B2ers enabled the H2B program to become a
“fig leaf” for these companies and their illegal workers.

3.(SBU)Bolstering the above scenario is Document Benefits Task Force
(DBTF) information (passed to ARSO-I) containing names of 50 Israeli
B1B2 or VWP workers who had been working in the Houston area. Post
is currently analyzing these 50 cases: 22 B1B2s were issued by Tel
Aviv in 2008-9 alone; 11 B1B2s were issued by Tel Aviv prior to
2008; 11 are thought to be VWP nationals and, 6 names were too
common to distinguish. Further, the DBTF’s activities have led to a
particular company’s scramble to replace/move elsewhere their B2
workers with those holding H2Bs.

4.(SBU)ARSO-I has been notifying the Government of Israel (GOI) of
all incoming criminal deportations from the United States. He also
receives notification of all deportations and has noticed a sharp
increase in young Israelis being deported for overstays or visa
status violations. Though anecdotal evidence, it points to a wider
problem.

5.(SBU) The list of 50 Houston-based workers is not the first or
only one Tel Aviv’s Fraud Prevention Manager (FPM) has received; CBP
sent a list of 60+ workers who had been discovered working illegally
at a Florida-based company. As part of a multi-faceted fraud
strategy, FPM has since revoked (and sent revocation requests to CA)
a large number of B1B2s belonging to known workers. Tel Aviv’s
interviewing officers are constantly trying to find ways to detect
Israelis who intend to work; needless to say, coaching and other
assistance has made it very difficult to detect these cases. An
analysis of case notes pertaining to the applicants on both lists
showed that most of these Israelis had given solid stories, thereby
convincing consular officers to overcome 214b. The toughest aspect
for 214b is not determining whether the applicant will return, but
whether s/he will abide by their visa’s terms. Tel Aviv FPU is open
to ideas on improving its detection of those intending to work; we
are continually brainstorming solutions, but none have proven
effective thus far.

6.(SBU) H2B statistics: In the past several fiscal years, Tel Aviv’s
overall H2B workload has dropped from a high of 1,658 cases in FY
2008 down by more than half to 528 cases in FY 2009. Reflecting
enhanced scrutiny of these applications is the increase in the FY
2010 H2B refusal rate to 45 percent from 10.9 percent in FY 2008.

H2Bs
FY 2006: 179 H2Bs issued; 25 refused. (204 cases)
FY 2007: 997 H2B issued; 79 refused. (1,076 cases)
FY 2008: 1,495 H2B issued; 163 refused. (1,658 cases)
FY 2009: 381 H2Bs issued; 146 refused. (528 cases)
FY 2010 to Dec 31: 283 H2Bs issued; 129 refused. (412 cases)

——————————————–
Recruitment of B1B2 Workers: Well-Organized
——————————————–
7.(SBU) Recruitment of B1B2ers is largely peer- and Internet-
oriented and occurs year-round; not surprisingly, recruiters and
Dead Sea managers themselves are usually former illegal kiosk
workers. It also begins while they are still in the military;
recruiters have participated in job fairs for those finishing their
mandatory service. The hiring process is highly organized and done
with no paper trail.

8.(SBU)Israelis preparing to leave the army generally want to earn
money (whether domestically or abroad) to pay for school, travel and
other life goals. Israelis have a close-knit social network and as
such, it is not hard to find peers who have worked illegally and be
reassured by the fact that they were not caught. FPM spoke with an
Israeli who had been swept up in a raid, and he said that the vast
majority of his peers obtain a tourist visa with intentions of
working and that a majority are not caught. This situation creates
a relatively permissive recruitment environment. While in the
United States, an Israeli can walk up to a kiosk and ask about
employment; they also can utilize online social networks such as
Facebook to find jobs.

9.(SBU) With a few variations, recruiters rosily promise such things
as the ability to earn USD 3-4,000 per month, 20-30 percent
commission, payment of half of the airfare, housing at resort-like
apartment complexes and availability of a car. In some locations,
rent is a token sum and in others, upwards of USD 500 per month is
charged. Qualifications are minimal: strong English skills and a
U.S. visa.

10.(SBU)Companies advertise in newspapers and online; an interested
worker only needs to complete a questionnaire and wait until someone
calls them. Typically, they are given a number to call when they
land in the United States. One variation is that recruiters will
meet the prospective worker at a local cafe or mall to finalize
details. Others call Web-site listed telephone numbers and leave a
message; someone returns their call and then convinces them to work.
If they don’t have a U.S. visa, recruiters have been known to coach
them on how to evade our scrutiny.

11.(SBU)Prior to arrival in the United States, workers typically are
given an address to write on their I-94-which may or may not exist.
Upon arrival in the United States, they usually are met at the
airport and taken to their housing. Should there be problems at
immigration, they are provided with a number for someone closely
connected to this industry. As described by a former Israeli
worker, the entire process was “all well organized.” Substantiating
this is an I275 Q/A comment, “They know when we are coming. They
come to the airport to collect us.”

——————————————— —
B1B2ers: Lack of Consequences Helps Dead Sea Industry and
Perpetuates Israelis’ Cultural Acceptance of Illegal Work
——————————————— —
12.(SBU)There is an array of reasons why post-army Israelis work
illegally in the United States; a key part of this fraud problem is
these young Israelis’ cultural acceptable of illegal work. The
prevailing perception amongst these Israelis is that selling Dead
Sea products is a simple way to earn a lot of money, can be done
easily and that most are not caught. One turnaround said, “people
[in Israel] told me it was ok [to sell Dead Sea products]. There
are a lot of people [who] sell Dead Sea products in the United
States.” According to another Israeli who was caught and jailed,
most of his peers know they intend to work well before applying for
U.S. visas and obligingly tell interviewing officers that they know
this work is illegal. Illustrating the situation’s pervasiveness is
that some Israelis travel annually to work; others travel every two
years. This Israeli also estimated that there are “thousands of
B1B2 workers across the United States”; statistics and anecdotal
evidence cited in this cable strongly support this estimate. He
also theorized that quite a few come from the lower end of the
socioeconomic scale–not poor, and not upper middle class. Post has
seen cases of Israelis relinquishing good jobs, such as those with
the National Police, to work illegally and cases of illegal Israeli
workers with a high-profile government or corporate parent. Of note
is that, due to the preference for Army service, Israeli-Arab kiosk
workers are rare.

13.(SBU)The deception by those intending to work illegally begins
well before they arrive at the visa interview window and repeats at
POEs. In a secondary interview with CBP, one turnaround said,
“….I don’t remember who told me what to say, but everyone in
Israel knows about going to America to work, and they say to tell
the U.S. Embassy that you’re going on vacation. It’s easier to get
the via.” Companies and recruiters have been known to advise
applicants to: create a fake reason for the trip, such as attending
a friend’s wedding (in one case, CBP discovered the friend was
already married!); and not to worry as “[After entering] as a
tourist… they would take care of my paperwork.” Other examples
are instructions to: “…tell US consular officials that he intended
to visit a friend’s aunt in NYC so that he could obtain a US visa
and, “…to tell POE that I was coming for “retail manager in
training program” (she worked as a secretary for a Dead Sea CEO).
In addition to the lies, this B1B2 applicant pool tends to write on
their DS 156’s “None” for their U.S. destination and contact
information (they know that if they were to put Ohio, we’d know they
intended to work). Interviewing officers have a hard time pinning
them down to an exact U.S. address or contact as they generally say
they are going to New York or some other common destination to see
family such as an uncle or aunt (when they intend to work in AZ, TX,
OH, TN or even in AL). By contrast, H2B applicants diligently
provide this information as given to them by the companies.

14.(SBU)In general, kiosk workers are not a static bunch. Some work
several weeks or months at a kiosk in one area, say Cleveland, and
then shift to another area such as Las Vegas for a few weeks or
months and so on. A strong network of Israelis paves the way for
their job moves-if things do not work out at one kiosk, an Israeli
can call upon the network to help his/her transfer to a another
kiosk which could be local or out of state.

——————–
Paying B1B2 Workers
——————–
15.(SBU) Kiosk area managers and/or U.S.-based recruiters usually
take care of compensating their illegal workers. Pay tends to range
from USD 1,000-3,200 per month, with the majority paid on the mid to
lower end of this scale. It is rare to earn a lot of money and, as
expected, the higher end is occupied by those who excel at sales.
Tel Aviv is aware of situations in which workers end up owing their
employers money.

16.(SBU)The most common method of payment is cash “under the table.”
Per I275 reports, an assortment of cash payment methods exists:
having the worker establish a U.S. bank account and then depositing
cash or checks; pay worker USD 1,000 for the first month while still
in Israel and then thereafter, pay USD 300 per week–the USD 1,000
would be deposited into an Israeli bank account and USD 300 given in
cash once state-side; having their pay wired to an Israeli bank
account; having the worker open a U.S. credit card account and
transferring money to the card, and etc. Some workers know that no
local or federal taxes are being deducted from their pay; others are
told that “that has been taken care of.”

——————————–
B1B2 Worker Exploitation Issues
——————————–
17.(SBU)The methods of exploitation we have seen are:

a. Payment of prohibited H2B fees. Those who withdraw from H2B work
early state-side or while still in Israel have been unable to
receive refunds of the extra, and prohibited, monies they had paid.
Exemplifying this situation is a company that is known to charge
Israeli H2B applicants a $100 fee as collateral for visa approval;
if denied their H2Bs that company refused to return that money to
the applicants on the basis that the failure to obtain a visa was
the applicants’ fault, not theirs. In addition, that same company
charges H2B candidates half of the $1,000 cost to petition for the
visa; the candidate pays $100 prior to leaving Israel and the
remaining $400 is deducted from their first four salary payments.

b. “Legal” status: Company told person that s/he could work legally
on the B-1; told him/her it was “ok to work and that nothing was
going to happen.” When that person asked the recruiter about a work
visa, s/he was told “not to worry about it.” One company even told
B1B2ers that “[they] can work for 3 months legally and after 3
months, [they] can’t.”

c. Job deceit: One person thought he had started a real job with an
Israeli company and that he was being sent to the United States for
training; he soon discovered that the “training” would be work and
that there was no job waiting for him back in Israel. These
companies have been known to move their employees around as they see
fit. An Israeli, originally recruited to work in the logistics
department, was transferred to a kiosk when the company needed more
cart workers. Another variation is to promise to send a worker to,
say, Los Angeles, and upon arrival, send them to, say, El Paso.

d. Long hours, little pay. Six day workweeks and 11 hr workdays are
not uncommon. Some workers are paid only their commission, e.g. no
minimum wage salary. The majority are not paid anywhere near the
$3-4,000+ a month promised by recruiters. An Israeli who quit his
H2B job this month informed us that he and his colleagues had been
paid only a basic salary of $1500 a month and that their company
took $500 a month from each of them to cover living expenses, such
as rent. After adding in other expenses, they ended up having to
pay their employer money when they left, earning nothing, contrary
to what was promised.

e. No local or Federal taxes paid. Given that the tendency to be
paid in cash, most workers do not know that taxes must be paid on
money earned. Nor do the companies enlighten them.

f. Social Security Numbers (SSNs). Illegalities abound in this area
as shared SSNs, fraudulent SSNs and having no SSN are not uncommon.

g. Employment Eligibility Verification I-9 forms not completed for
workers. Dead Sea companies have failed to complete I-9s for their
workers. All U.S. employers must complete and retain an I-9 for
each worker-including citizens and noncitizens. On the I-9, the
company must examine the employment eligibility and identity
document(s) a worker presents to determine whether the document(s)
reasonably appear to be genuine and relate to the individual and
record that document information on the I-9. This documentation
provision is likely the sticking point for these companies as they
do not want any evidence of hiring B1B2ers.

h. Organized Crime enforcement tactics: ARSO-I and FPM are aware of
recruiters who threaten workers if they do not do their work as
intended. One such recruiter threatened a worker’s family back in
Israel with harm if the worker did not continue working at the
kiosk. ARSO-I is looking into these cases for prosecutorial
potential.

i. Department of Labor violations. Examples include assigning
workers to employment locations different from those listed on the
DOL certifications. As mentioned above, companies have been known
to move workers around at will, according to current needs.

j. And, no doubt, there are other methods of exploitation not
described here.

——————————————— –
I-539 Extensions Filed to Continue Unauthorized Work
——————————————— –
18.(SBU)Many B1B2ers fail to disclose unlawful employment on their
I539s to extend current status or switch to H2B or even H3 status.
These applications are filed as a way to buy time to continue
working. To reduce scrutiny, Israelis have been known to file I539s
in a different state from where they had been residing.

19.(SBU)Another known tactic to keep Israeli workers in the United
States is petitioning for a change of status for their workers from
B2 to H3 in April since the companies have typically claimed their
“peak load” occurs during the Christmas holiday season. To
complicate things further, they even petition to change the same
H2Bs who entered as B2s and then worked in the kiosks during the
holiday season over to H3 trainees after they re-enter the United
States as B2s again in April and May. The H3 classification is very
problematic; see paragraphs 22-30.

—————
Marriage Fraud
—————
20.(SBU) There seems to be an overwhelming indication that the
owners, principal partners and area managers of Dead Sea-related
companies are enlisting U.S. citizens to commit marriage fraud in
order to enable their open-ended “legal” U.S. stays. These
“couples” knowingly engage in fraud, with payments to the U.S.
citizen and pre-organized meetings to prepare for their USCIS
interviews. In October, Tel Aviv investigated a marriage fraud case
on behalf of USCIS Phoenix that resulted in the withdrawal of both
the I130 and I485 forms. USCIS is investigating other cases of Dead
Sea-related marriage fraud and Tel Aviv is willing to assist as
necessary.

—————-
Crooked Lawyers?
—————-
21.(SBU)Lawyers appear to very much a part of the Dead Sea fraud
scheme. FPU is aware of a lawyer who advised an Israeli to obtain a
new PPT to hide his/her lengthy U.S. stay. Another lawyer reassured
a group of B1H3 workers that they were in “legal status” whilst
their I539s were pending with USCIS. Skating close to ethical
“lines,” one lawyer even advised a high-level Dead Sea company owner
(who was denied a visa in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem) as to whether
attempting to cross illegally from Mexico was preferable to Canada.
That individual was caught trying to cross the U.S.-Mexican border
by making false claim to U.S. citizenship; ARSO-I is working with
DS/LAFO/DS on this case. Such is the draw for Israelis working in
this industry in the United States that they are willing to risk
detention and possible prison time to work there. Most tellingly,
ARSO-I and Tel Aviv FPM have noticed that there are a handful of
lawyers who have been filing the vast majority of the Dead Sea
industry’s petitions, I539s and I130s/I485s with USCIS. Sometimes,
new lawyers pop up, though they, too, appear to have connections to
these key lawyers.

—————————————
Recent Arrests of Israeli B1B2 Workers
—————————————
22.(SBU)Tel Aviv CONS and ARSO-I are pleased with the uptick in
attention various Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agencies and
U.S. Attorneys have given to the B1B2er problem. In November,
Houston’s ICE Documents and Benefits Fraud Task Force (DBTF)
arrested 11 Israeli B1B2ers as part of a wider operation; ICE
Seattle (Tri-cities office) arrested 11 more in late December and
another Seattle office had arrested 5 earlier. These arrests’
timing has been fortuitous to Tel Aviv’s ongoing educational
campaign targeted to the post-army demographic about the potential
consequences of working illegally in the United States. We hope
these arrests and Tel Aviv’s recent 214B revocations of large
numbers of B1B2ers’ visas will filter through the close-knit
post-army community and encourage them to think twice about working
illegally. On a side note, these revocations ensure that B1B2ers
cannot re-enter the United States; some have been admitted despite
TECS and other lookout entries for them.

——————————————
B1 in Lieu of H3 Training Letter and H3 Scam
——————————————
23.(SBU) On B1 in Lieu of H3 trainee (B1H3) issues, 9 FAM 41.31
N11.9 says: a. Aliens already employed abroad, who are coming to
undertake training and who are classifiable as H3 trainees. The
regulations state that in order for an alien to be classifiable as
H3, the petitioner must demonstrate that:
(1) The proposed training is not available in the alien’s own
country;
(2) The beneficiary will not be placed in a position which is in the
normal operation of the business and in which citizens and resident
workers are regularly employed;
(3) The beneficiary will not engage in productive employment unless
such employment is incidental and necessary to the training; and
(4) The training will benefit the beneficiary in pursuing a career
outside the United States.

24.(SBU)Note that ALL four conditions in 9 FAM 41.31 N11.9 must be
met to qualify for H3 status. The most difficult item to overcome
is condition 1. Israel does have a Dead Sea skincare and cosmetics
industry in which Israelis sell to American tourists, people from
all over the world and to local customers. Thus, per this
interpretation, this H3 training field IS available in Israel. In
addition, 9 FAM 41.31 N11.9 (4) says the training is supposed to
benefit the Israeli’s career abroad–however that standard is also
tough to meet as these Israelis tend not to have had Dead
Sea-related careers prior to going to the United States for their
B1H3 “training.” Their work back-grounds tend to encompass portable
employment fields such as bartending, working at a gas station, cell
phone sales/service, working as a secretary, etc.

25.(SBU) It is rare that young, post-army Israelis present a visa
application to us requesting B1 in lieu of H3 status. In fact, Tel
Aviv’s Fraud Prevention Manager (FPM) is aware of only one such visa
case at post since the summer of 2008–that one was refused on 214b
grounds. Of concern is the situation in which Israelis in this
demographic present B1H3 letters to CBP officers at Ports of Entry
for admission for 3-6 months’ training, misleading both CBP and
Embassy Tel Aviv consular officers.

26.(SBU) Often, these Israelis apply for a visa under the guise of
going to the United States on a 2-3 week vacation (it is now rare
for us to see requests for trips of longer duration) to visit
family, friends, travel, etc. Tel Aviv consular officers, despite
the employment of a variety of interviewing tactics, have no way of
knowing which ones were specifically told by local recruiting
companies to not reveal their true intention to work in the United
States to them. It is known that recruiters have no interest in
Israelis who do not already possess a U.S. visa as that is one of
two key job requirements; the other is possession of
English-language skills. After they receive their U.S. visa, the
company will then furnish them with B1H3 training letters and coach
them to tell CBP that they are coming for “just for training,” etc.
so as to facilitate their entry into the United States.

27.(SBU)To combat the B1H3 letter scam, tools we employ include: the
stapling of a card onto passports of those issued B1B2 visas
advising against unauthorized employment in the United States; and
extensive CCD notes that include a key phrase “vacation only,” trip
information as presented (e.g. location and duration) and job
occupation. The latter is important as those who present B1H3
letters will almost always say they have been working for a local
Dead Sea company for at least a short period. If they recently
applied for a visa at Tel Aviv, these applicants usually do not
indicate during the interview or on the application itself that they
already have been working for these local Dead Sea companies. In
other words, a different employer is likely listed in the CCD.

28.(SBU)Regarding remuneration of B1H3 workers, 9 FAM 41.31 N11
says: There are cases in which aliens who qualify for H1 or H3 visas
may more appropriately be classified as B-1 visa applicants in
certain circumstances, e.g., a qualified H1 or H3 visa applicant
coming to the United States to perform H1 services or to participate
in a training program. In such a case, the applicant must not
receive any salary or other remuneration from a U.S. source other
than an expense allowance or other reimbursement for expenses
incidental to the alien’s temporary stay….it is essential that the
remuneration or source of income for services performed in the
United States continue to be provided by the business entity located
abroad, and that the alien meets the following criteria:
(1) With regard to foreign-sourced remuneration for services
performed by aliens admitted under the provisions of INA
101(a)(15)(B), the Department has maintained that where a U.S.
business enterprise or entity has a separate business enterprise
abroad, the salary paid by such foreign entity shall not be
considered as coming from a “U.S. source;”
(2) In order for an employer to be considered a “foreign firm” the
entity must have an office abroad and its payroll must be disbursed
abroad. To qualify for a B-1 visa, the employee must customarily be
employed by the foreign firm, the employing entity must pay the
employee’s salary, and the source of the employee’s salary must be
abroad; and….
Going against 9 FAM 41.31 N11.9 (2) and (3), the B1H3 “training
program” in reality has these Israelis engaging in unauthorized full
time employment selling Dead Sea products at mall kiosks across the
United States. In general, they are paid in cash based upon their
level of sales, which can range from USD 250 to USD 800 per week.
Wire transfers from the United States to workers’ Israeli accounts,
payments to Israeli credit card accounts, and checks deposited to a
U.S. bank account are among the other known means of payment. All
of these payment methods are considered U.S. source, thus not
foreign as they should be.

29.(SBU)Known B1H3 letter drafters (Israel-based) are:

STS (majority user and has several TECS records), AK Global
Investments and Management LLC, KIT, Gaya Inc, Global Spa LTD, Ela
Marketing LLC, Tal Yosifun LTD, JNS Global Israel LTD, Sol
Enterprise Israel LTD, Market Trade LTD, Mor Universal Management
Consultants, and Global Market Trade LTD (formerly JG Cosmetics
LTD). [NOTE: Gaya Inc and Sol Enterprise Israel LTD have residential
addresses.]

30.(SBU)Known US counterparts to above Israeli comapnies:

A&B United, Coral Cosmetics, E-Marketing, Enias Beauty, Everesteam,
Feel Free LLC, Gill Cosmetics, Gizbo Trading, JNS Global, Lali
Beauty (aka Cart Planet), Libra LLC, LMD 4 Florida, Lucidity
Enterprises, Mall Security Enterprises, MDS, Micaella, Nine DEC,
Sound Creation, Spa to Go (MI), Stanga and Suns Inc.

31.(SBU) H3 Statistics: Of note is Tel Aviv’s dramatic drop in H3
cases between 2008 and 2009–likely due to the B1H3 letter scam and
submission of I539 applications to change status to H3.

H3s
FY 2006: 15 H3s issued; 4 refused. (19 cases)
FY 2007: 49 H3s issued; 22 refused. (71 cases)
FY 2008: 47 H3s issued; 19 refused. (66 cases)
FY 2009: 8 H3s issued; 4 refused. (12 cases)
FY 2010 to Dec. 14: 0 H3s issued; 1 refused. (1 case)

————–
E and L Visas
————–
32.(SBU)E visas: Shell companies have been known to be established
in order to “qualify” an Israeli for E1 status. E1 visas, in
general receive close scrutiny in Tel Aviv; Dead Sea-related cases,
due to their non-transparent corporate structure, receive even
further scrutiny. As a fraud prevention measure and, mainly because
of their low volume, ConGen Jerusalem agreed to transfer their E
cases for Tel Aviv to process. Of its own cases, Tel Aviv approved
eight and rejected six such E1 visa cases; rejections were due to
lack of qualifications.

33.(SBU)L visas: Tel Aviv recently returned to USCIS a Dead Sea
company’s L petition because additional information that we received
revealed there was no intra-company connection between the Israeli
entity and the U.S. entity other than a distributor relationship.
As with E visas, Tel Aviv will be keeping a close eye on these
cases.

———————————–
Q4 Visas for Israeli Kiosk Workers?
———————————–
34.(SBU) A Dead Sea company, one that may have organized crime (OC)
connections, continues to tell us they are pushing for the creation
of a Q4 visa category to permit Israelis to work at U.S. kiosks
selling Dead Sea products. FPM first heard of this idea back in the
fall of 2008 from this company’s owner and continues to hear about
Q4 plans. The argument for the Q4 visa rests upon the “uniqueness”
of having an Israeli sales force within the Dead Sea industry. Tel
Aviv does not view this proposed visa category as credible, for it
could be used as a way to legitimize B2 workers and continue the
pattern of not being open to hiring U.S. citizens.

35.(SBU)Moreover, there is nothing intrinsic to the Dead Sea that
Israelis are privy to that other people in the world cannot find
out. In fact, company representatives repeatedly have stated to
ARSO-I and FPM that only Israelis are capable of working for them
and that they do not hire Americans because they are lazy. Their
attitude has more to do with high pressure sales techniques and
controlling a vulnerable work force; ARSO-I and FPM have seen these
elements in these companies’ instruction manuals.

————————————–
I275s – Dead Sea Information Goldmine
————————————–
36.(SBU)Dead Sea-related denials of entry easily top Tel Aviv’s list
of reasons for POE turnarounds. Two hundred and sixty-one (261)
such I275s have been received here since October 2007. In Jan-Nov
2009, FPM received 162 I275s, reflecting POEs’ increased scrutiny of
post-army Israelis–the group that is most likely to work without
authorization. Since we probably do not receive every Dead
Sea-related I275 from each and every POE, the total number we have
likely does not represent the total number of Israelis denied entry.
Newark, with 65 cases, processed the most I275s in Jan-Nov 2009;
Atlanta Hartsfield and Chicago O’Hare are second and third,
respectively, for the same period. The November 2009 CBP Travel
Industry Bulletin spotlights Atlanta, which is one of the busiest
airports in the world, and the mention of Israeli fraud on page two
says something about the level of their concern regarding this
issue. Previously, as described in reftel A, Israelis intending to
work were advised by their companies and recruiters to avoid
Atlanta. Disseminating this type of information has become more
sophisticated due to online videos advising which airports to avoid,
and etc. As with Atlanta, Israelis are beginning to avoid Newark.
Where will they go next?

37.(SBU)To help close the communication gap, FPM has reached out to
POEs that handle Israeli arrivals and shared information in the
attempt to maintain an “advantage.” The outreach is done via the
FPM’s ad-hoc Dead Sea e-mails that share trends/data and information
with CBP, FDNS, ICE, USCIS and others. FPM maintains several
e-distribution lists. Represented in the CBP POE list are: ATL,
BOS, CHI, DET, HOU, IAD, JFK, LAX, MIA, MSP, NEW, PDX, PHI, PHX, SEA
and SFO. If you would like to receive these Dead Sea e-mails,
please write to vincentwm@state.gov.

38.(SBU) All 261 of our I275 cases have been analyzed extensively
for intel- and data-gathering purposes, and shared internally and
externally. What’s noteworthy?

21-24 is the main age cluster;
57.5 percent are females and 42.5 percent males;
46 percent are from central Israel (interesting as the north and
south are less well-off areas);
75.5 percent applied for B2 status upon entry;
16.9 percent presented B1H3 letters;

POE denials:
52.5 percent worked on a previous trip;
31 percent intended to work if admitted to the United States;
47.9 percent were caught on the second entry attempt due to having
worked on the first entry; and

POE denial grounds per INA: 77.4 percent were 7A1, and
17.6 percent were 6C1 in addition to 7A1.

39.(SBU) We suspect that quite a few Israelis manage to evade CBP
successfully and, for every I275er caught, there are likely several
B1B2ers. Via word of mouth, the smart ones come for a short, 1-2
month stay to work, earn money and leave. They then return the
following year for the holidays, which is the principal money making
season. According to our CBP contacts, these individuals are much
harder to catch.

40.(SBU) FPM encourages POEs to send via e-mail or snail/express
mail copies of Dead Sea-related I275s for intel and analytical
purposes; Please see paragraph 75 for Tel Aviv’s mailing address
details.

—————————-
Validation Studies Underway
—————————-
41.In October 2008, Tel Aviv implemented changes in its evaluation
of post-army visa applicants, and as a result, its refusal rate
began to climb sharply. FPM requested an ATS/ADIS validation study
of B1B2ers in April 2009. The results indicated it was too early
for an informative study as many of these Israelis were still in the
United States. We plan to follow up on this group at the 18 month
mark; we suspect we’ll see lengthy stays, numerous extensions and
changes of status. Meantime, we continue to flag issued cases
within this demographic by adding particular phrases into NIV case
notes for additional validation studies.

——————————————
Transport of Cash Connected to Dead Sea Industry
——————————————
42.(SBU) Transport of cash from the United States to Israel has long
been a concern of FPM and ARSO-I as it not only implies illegal
employment, but also money laundering, and thus, potential organized
crime connections to the industry. Information gathered from the
I275s and from CBP show that Israelis, including relatives or
friends of illegal workers, have been caught outbound transporting
large sums of money back to Israel. In one case, a young Israeli
couple was discovered transporting over USD 26,000 for their illegal
worker friends to Israel; they had lied about the amount to prevent
the money’s seizure. Further, ARSO-I has discovered through a
source that young Israeli workers returning to Israel have been
tasked with carrying back money for the company. These workers are
then met by a contact in Israel; the money is collected at or near
the airport and is delivered to a local company representative.

43.(SBU)At Newark, Israelis regularly have been caught by its
Outbound Currency Enforcement Team (OCET). Generally, these
Israelis have been in the United States for four to six months and
are carrying about USD 8,000 to USD 9,800, just under the reporting
limit. In addition to carrying cash for the companies, these
workers also have been known to wire some of the money to Israel or
have someone carry some of it home for them or buy items with their
illegal earnings such as laptops, i-Phones, clothing, etc. OCET
places long-term lookout on these cash-carrying individuals and
reports those who admit to and/or have proof of working illegally to
Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv FPM then evaluates these individuals for 214B
visa revocations and adds corporate intel gleaned by OCET from these
cases to the Dead Sea Excel file. Tel Aviv welcomes submissions
from other OCET teams.

44.(SBU) There is a catch-22 situation in which CBP knows that
Israelis had worked illegally, with or without proof of employment
and/or admission of unauthorized employment. If the Israeli
declares under $10,000 or over that amount–as long as they declare,
they are free to return to Israel. Per Newark’s OCET’s experience
and TECS records, Newark estimates that roughly 800 Israelis who
carried $5,000 or more and stayed four to six months were either
stopped, interviewed and/or had outbound examinations in CY 2009.
The scale of this cash transport is not small-for just one POE: 800
Israelis multiplied by $5000 minimum, equals a lot of money–at
least $4 million!

———————————
Dead Sea and Organized Crime (OC)
———————————
45.(SBU) Organized Crime in the Dead Sea industry is a real concern.
Tel Aviv has consistently received information that large sums of
money are allegedly being laundered and transported between the
United States and Israel. Due to the amount of money being
laundered and transported, Tel Aviv has long suspected a link
between the Dead Sea industry and OC. In early December, FPU
received an e-mail from an informant who said he had information
alleging that a key Dead Sea company is connected to OC. ARSO-I and
FPU subsequently interviewed this informant; the ARSO-I’s report of
this interview states: “The SUBJECT stated that s/he is in
possession of computer disks with all of this company’s accounts,
money totals, smuggled bulk cash from the United States to Israel
and has a complete understanding of the alleged illegal activities
to include the employing of illegal workers, suspected drug
smuggling, money laundering, intimidation, threats, extortion, and
tax evasion. The SUBJECT also claimed that this company is
allegedly owned by a major organized crime family in Israel that has
threatened SUBJECT’S life, extorted money from SUBJECT, and has sent
people to physically assault SUBJECT.” Due to the ongoing criminal
investigation in the United States, no additional details can be
released at this time.

46.(SBU)Further adding credibility to our suspicions, is an arrest
case from this past summer in Japan where kiosks run by young
Israelis were allegedly being used by an OC organization to launder
its drug money and real estate investment deals. As noted above,
some Dead Sea companies have real estate and investment companies as
part of their overall structure.

47.(SBU)Shell and holding companies are all part of the industry’s
corporate strategy, designed mainly to distance themselves from the
illegal workers at the kiosks. To exemplify, one Dead Sea holding
company has 60+ companies under it. Now, assume that one of those
60+ companies has a contract with another company and that other
company then hires the illegal workers. This scenario is quite
common, complicating our efforts to combat and uncover Dead Sea
fraud. Furthermore, once a company is found to be employing illegal
workers it merely changes its name or creates a new owner for a
shell company and applies for H2B petitions. As mentioned earlier,
there are a handful of attorneys who have been filing the majority
of the Dead Sea industry’s petitions and I539s. They appear to be
passionate lobbyists for these new companies–almost as if there had
been a previous working relationship (as in, with the “old”
company).

48.(SBU) Sometimes, key Dead Sea players have been “caught-out” by
their own non-transparent corporate structures. Recently, Tel Aviv
received an e-mail complaint from one of the known Dead Sea lawyers
that also included the CEO’s angry e-mail to that lawyer. Problem:
that CEO had, in theory, nothing to do with the petitioning company
as he was the CEO of a different company. FPM investigated and
discovered that the CEO’s company sub-leases the kiosks to the
petitioning company. Furthermore, the CEO’s company has a TECS
record that says it doesn’t exist.

49.(SBU) As a side note: Tel Aviv FPU has a large and growing list
of known OC figures identified through open source materials and
confirmed by ARSO-I through Israeli Law Enforcement sources. Tel
Aviv FPU and ARSO-I are working with the Legal Attach on possible
strategies to combat OC in conjunction with FPU’s revocation of
visas for convicted OC members.

———————————-
Dead Sea Industry and Real Estate
———————————-
50.(SBU)Increasingly, we are seeing signs of involvement in real
estate by many of the key Dead Sea players. One example is the
recruiter mentioned in the 6E deterrent section. In addition, our
ARSO-I recently interviewed someone with extensive knowledge of a
particular Dead Sea company; this person alleged that money
laundering is occurring through the real estate arms of these
companies. The real estate arms of these companies are also
involved in employing young Israelis to work for them in violation
of their visa status. Further, substantiating this trend, ARSO-I
reported that his source stated that the real estate business was
becoming as important as the kiosks.

51.(SBU) Another aspect of the real estate issue is these companies’
provision of housing for their workers, whether legal or not.
Industry-wide, there are a large number of apartments and,
increasingly, houses, located near the malls where they work.
Placing at least four or more workers in a two bedroom place and
charging each person USD 500 a month has made housing another
potential money-maker. As the addresses of these apartments/houses
may indicate intent to work, Tel Aviv FPM has been tracking them in
an Excel document that contains comprehensive information on the
Dead Sea industry. Addresses are gleaned from I275s, H2B DS 156s,
and received from other inter-agency sources.

—————
Made in Israel?
—————
52.(SBU)Given the shrinking Dead Sea, labor/shipping costs and the
increasing volume of products being sold, Tel Aviv FPM and ARSO-I
suspect that some of these “made in Israel” cosmetic and skincare
item are actually made elsewhere. Supporting this is ARSO-I’s
development of a source who informed him that one of the larger
corporate groups was manufacturing soaps in the United States using
possible illegal workers from Central America and then selling the
product as from the Dead Sea, i.e. made in Israel. Another likely
source is China, which has both “dead seas” and cheap labor. Last
but not least, ICE Rome reported to ARSO-I and Tel Aviv that they
suspect these companies may be importing soaps and creams in bulk to
Israel and labeling them here before shipping to the United States
using Israel’s “most favored trading nation” status to save money.

————————–
Interagency Success Story
————————–
53.(SBU) In November, Houston’s DBTF executed search warrants on a
particular Dead Sea company. The result: ten Israelis were arrested
for working on B2 visas; numerous boxes of evidence were seized
along with USD 70,000. The company’s H2B contract, translated by
Tel Aviv FPU at the DBTF’s request, was found to violate DOL and
USCIS provisions. ARSO-I and FPU have assisted DBTF with
identifying people, detailing connections between
individuals/companies and provided requested information whenever
possible.

54.(SBU)It is now rumored that the company being investigated by
DBTF Houston has shuttered operations; Tel Aviv continues to monitor
chat rooms and message boards for Dead Sea workers. Indications are
that this company’s B1B2ers already have been moved to other areas
and new companies (including shells) have been created to fill this
corporate gap. Moreover, Tel Aviv discovered that this
Houston-based company has very close ties to another Dead Sea
operation in Arizona. ARSO-I has passed information to DBTF Houston
as part of their ongoing investigation.

55.(SBU)ARSO-I, ICE Rome and Tel Aviv have consistently waged an
information campaign to enlist other regulatory and law enforcement
entities to investigate this seemingly fraud-riddled industry on a
nation-wide basis. However, given the lack of interest in a
national investigation, ARSO-I and Tel Aviv highly recommend that
DBTFs nation-wide consider duplicating the Houston-based DBTF’s
recent successful efforts.

56.(SBU) Tel Aviv believes that interagency efforts are crucial to
combating and preventing Dead Sea Fraud. FPM has developed a
network of working contacts across the United States with various
agencies such as CBP, ICE, FDNS and USCIS. Tel Aviv greatly
appreciates CBP’s inclusion of its fraud prevention efforts in their
official publications such as the New York/Newark Tactical
Analytical Unit (TAU) Weekly Intelligence Brief and the Office of
Intelligence and Operations Coordination’s Weekly Intelligence
Notes. As one prong of a multi-faceted fraud situation, our
continued inter-agency sharing of information, trends and analyses
have and will continue to tighten the noose on Israelis working
illegally. Complementing the FPM’s efforts is the ARSO-I’s ongoing
communications with Law Enforcement entities to facilitate
information-sharing and to track a growing number of arrested
Israelis and Dead Sea companies under investigation.

—————————————–
6C and 6E Ineffective: Stronger Deterrents Needed
—————————————–
¶57. (SBU) 9 FAM 40.65 INA 212(A)(6)(E)
(6)Illegal entrants and immigration violators.
(E) Smugglers.
(i) In general.-Any alien who at any time knowingly has encouraged,
induced, assisted, abetted, or aided any other alien to enter or to
try to enter the United States in violation of law is inadmissible.

Per 9 FAM 40.65 N5, 6E could be incurred for offering an alien a job
under circumstances where it is clear that the alien will not enter
the United States legally in order to accept employment.

58.(SBU)Post is looking into either P6E- or 6E-ing known Israeli
recruiters of B2 workers. One recruiter recently applied for a
visa, saying that he was in real estate and no longer in the Dead
Sea business. The applicant, because of his prior Dead Sea history,
was vetted more closely by FPU. FPU discovered that he had
recruited B2 workers and was still doing so; a second interview by
the ARSO-I and FPU resulted in a 6E finding. Using the 6E provision
can deter recruiters from traveling to the United States, however
they would still be free to recruit B2 workers in Israel and online.

59.(SBU)Per the above I-275 analyses, almost 18 percent of those
denied entry are found ineligible under 6C1. Israelis 6C1’d tend to
be recent cases in which they obtained a visa from Tel Aviv telling
one story (vacation) to the interviewing officer and another story
(work) to CBP officers–misrepresentation. Post has seen cases in
which CBP could have and, for their own reasons, did not do so.
Post is unable to make 6C1 findings unless the applicant was
determined to have cut off a line of questioning with a material
fact-in reality, this determination is made after the visa’s
issuance. Due to Tel Aviv’s lack of information as to when B1B2ers
start work, it is difficult to apply the 30/60 day rule per 9FAM
40.63 N4.7-1 and 9FAM 40.63 N4.7-2. It is also not yet clear
whether 6C1 will be a strong deterrent as most of those recently
denied entry have been barred for at least five years. After five
years, they’ll certainly learn first-hand the severity of the
lifetime consequences of their 6C1 ineligibility when they apply for
a new visa.

————————————–
New, Old Deterrent: Limit B1B2 Validity?
————————————–
60.(SBU)The essence of Tel Aviv’s 214b problem is not whether the
applicant will return, but whether the applicant will abide by the
terms of his/her B1B2 visa. This cable presents strong evidence
that many post-Army Israelis violate the terms of their visas. As
this practice is culturally acceptable, Tel Aviv thus far has been
unable to determine a pattern that would help interviewing officers
identify mala-fide applications. Several years ago, Tel Aviv
limited visas issued to middle- and high-school aged students to the
approximate end of their military service so as to prompt a look at
their post-army situations. Per CA’s request this practice stopped.
Being able to review the applications of Israelis who previously
received limited visas has been helpful in identifying patterns and
in collecting crucial information about illegal recruitment and work
practices. This, combined with the large number of post-army
Israelis who work illegally on their B1B2 visas, has led Tel Aviv to
re-examine the efficacy of limiting young Israelis’ visas, with a
focus on those who recently finished their military service. We
look forward to a dialogue with CA on this issue.

61.(SBU)There are a variety of reasons described in this cable for
Tel Aviv to re-consider limiting visas of those in the post-military
service age group. Of note is that, while in the military, Israelis
must obtain special permission to vacation abroad and return to
military service or face being charged as a deserter. And for
post-army Israelis, given the widespread and culturally accepted
intentions to work illegally, the idea would be to limit post-army
issued visas to one- or multiple- entry for one year (un-annotated),
sharply reducing the time and opportunities to work illegally. This
one year visa limitation idea would also give us more information
about their actual travel versus their stated plans, helping us
better identify mala-fide first time applicants. It should be noted
that Tel Aviv’s interviewing officers have been consciously
evaluating each applicant as an individual and trying not to
discriminate against a broad age-group category. Frustratingly, we
regularly receive reports on Israelis known to be working who
appeared to be solid visa issuance cases during their interviews,
which were based on the best available information regarding their
ties.

—————————————
Visa Waiver Program (VWP) Implications
—————————————
62.(SBU) While security and biometric requirements are Israel’s key
hurdles to joining the VWP, it now has the added complication of
being over the three percent refusal rate threshold due to post-army
Israelis’ tendency to abuse their visas. Predictably, dual national
Israeli workers with VWP country passports have bypassed Tel Aviv
and entered the United States on their VWP passports. Tel Aviv’s
adjusted refusal rate for host country nationals for B1B2 visas
increased from 1.27 percent in FY 2007 to 4.38 percent in FY 2009.
It appears this rate will climb further; for FY 2010, as of December
30, it was 5.91 percent. Worldwide, the refusal rate for all
Israelis is higher yet. Although our refusal rate continues to
rise, we are still taking great pains to interview each applicant as
individual cases.

——————————————–
Annotations as a Fraud Prevention Tool: Israelis Prove to be Clever
and Adaptable
——————————————–
63.(SBU)As an innovative fraud prevention tool, Tel Aviv, in
consultation with 9FAM 41.113 PN6, 9FAM 41.31 N19 and CBP officers,
began adding a particular, positive annotation on some full-validity
B1B2 visas issued to those within this problematic demographic. Due
to a lack of “tells,” Tel Aviv has not been able to distinguish
definitively between those who intend to abuse their visas by
working illegally from those who do not; as mentioned above,
recruiters are coaching applicants on what to do/say in their
interviews. Our annotations were intended to give CBP officers, who
are able to talk to our applicants several weeks/months
post-interview, an opportunity to prevent B1B2 visa abuse. All
applicants in this age group are potentially “at risk” for
recruitment, especially after being granted B1B2 visas; because of
this risk, CBP officers have told FPM that they appreciate our use
of such annotations. It should be pointed out that only a minority
of visas for this demographic were annotated.

¶64. (SBU) The first annotation employed was “First Trip: travelling
to XYZ with XYZ relative.” This proved ineffective, for Israelis
learned to create stories to cover discrepancies with the annotation
and it applied only to the first trip. To replace this, the more
generic “B2 CCD” annotation informed CBP that the Israeli has
sufficient ties to qualify for visa and told us their trip’s intent
was B2 purposes, tourism. At any rate, clever Israelis figured out
that B2 CCD meant they needed to be consistent with the false
tourism story sold to Tel Aviv with CBP. Given CA’s aversion to
annotations, we have ceased the use of B2 CCD annotations.

65.(SBU) Predictably, Israelis are chatting online at sites devoted
to working in the United States about perceived patterns of Tel
Aviv’s actions, including annotations. While reviewing “Forums for
Job Advertisements in the U.S.,” FPU discovered this posting: “I
have an important question: I got a visa in the mail for 10 years
and the visa was annotated 1st trip with parents. I am really not
planning on traveling with my parents. Can anyone help? Tell me what
can I do?” The response was: “you have been busted…this is a new
policy that the Embassy has taken in order to make sure no one fools
them. Applicants say they are traveling with parents in order to
maximize their chances in getting a visa. No way in getting around
this cause it appears in their computers. Best idea for you is to
ask your mother if she wants to join you in this trip.”

————————————
Facebook as a Fraud Prevention Tool
————————————
66.(SBU)The Internet has “gifted” us with new fraud tools for our
toolbox. Facebook (FB) is a prime example as we use it in many ways.

67.(SBU) Confirming Identities and/or Affiliations (assumes public
access): Not surprisingly, Dead Sea-related FB pages exist-most are
in Hebrew: two examples are “Carts in San Diego” and “Dead Sea in
Miami.” FPU checks which “location” or “network” with which the
person in question might be associated. If an applicant signed up
for the Houston network (or other area known for Dead Sea workers),
it raises a red flag that they should be interviewed more thoroughly
as to the trip’s true purpose. FPU also trawls through FB’s Dead
Sea-related groups to spot-check members or “fans” of a particular
page against the CCD to see what type of visa, if any, they
received. Likewise, surfing through an applicant’s list of
“friends” for familiar Dead Sea names and/or for that person’s U.S.
contact’s listing as a “friend” can be fruitful. These searches
help determine whether or not the applicant or the applicant’s
contacts are connected to Dead Sea-related activities.

68.(SBU) FB pages have helped official investigations, too. At the
request of ICE, Tel Aviv, armed with some bio data, was able to
verify the identity of a person who was working at a kiosk by
finding that person’s FB page photo and comparing it to his/her CCD
photo.

69.(SBU) Recruiters and job listings: FB has pages for Dead Sea job
listings and one such site is “Nova USA.” To investigate, the FPU
visits that page and looks at the names of the administrators and
the contact e-mail addresses for job listings (which can lead us to
recruiters) and then checks the information against the CCD via a
text search. If there are “hits,” then the information within these
cases, such as other e-mail addresses are text searched to see where
the information trail leads. Ultimately, all key information is
watch-phrased.

————————————
Outreach as a Fraud Prevention Tool
————————————
70.(SBU)In September, Tel Aviv publicly launched a consular video,
“Illegal Work in the U.S.: Price is Too High”
(usembassy-israel.org.il/consular/niv/index.a spx). This video has
been viewed on the Embassy’s You-Tube channel over 5,700 times,
easily making it Tel Aviv’s most popular one. In addition to also
posting it on the consular section’s FB page, the video is being
played in the visa waiting room in a loop, along with a video that
explains the application process. Some Israelis who have been
denied entry told CBP that they had seen the video while in the
waiting room and that they still intended to work despite its
warnings!

71.(SBU)The video’s debut launched an active, ongoing campaign by
FPU to educate post-army Israelis about how to work legally in the
United States. The video was publicized on national radio, leading
to a spate of national media articles on Israelis working in the
United States. In November, Channel 2, a key TV channel, picked up
on this issue and invited two Israelis who had been denied entry to
tell their stories in a live, five minute segment. The moral: the
consequences (barred from entering the United States for at least
five years) are not worth the illegal work. Right after their TV
segment aired, FPU and ARSO-I met with one of these two Israelis.
This meeting was an eye-opener, for we learned more about how young
Israelis lie in their visa interviews. FPU is currently scheduling
additional individual meetings with I275ers to glean more
information on how they succeeded in obtaining B1B2s when their true
intent was to work. As a counterfoil to meetings with I275ers, FPU
has requested through ARSO-I to meet with several Embassy local
guard force (LGF) staff, who also belong to this problematic age
group; the RSO’s office is currently reviewing this request.

72.(SBU)Post has had positive results from its campaign against
illegal work. FPU has received e-mails from numerous Israelis
inquiring as to whether the work opportunities that they have been
given are legal or not; most have not been. Also, we have received
e-mail from informants, one of whom may crack a high-profile Dead
Sea company wide open. Still others have e-mailed to let us know
they had quit their H2B jobs as they either didn’t like the work or
suspected the employer was not legitimate. ARSO-I and FPU have
followed up on every email and contact in the attempt to glean as
much information as possible from those actually recruited by or
working for these companies.

73.(SBU)Phase II of the campaign is about to commence. Included in
this phase is the production of a second video. Instead of having
the Embassy produce, it will be produced by a group of students from
a noted Israeli film school. These students are in the same age
demographic as Dead Sea workers, and, because of this, we hope this
video will resonate even more strongly with post-army Israelis. The
November and December 2009 arrests of Israelis working at kiosks in
Houston and Seattle also will reinforce the video’s message.

74.(SBU) As in phase I, Tel Aviv continues to work with our Public
Diplomacy colleagues to alert Israelis to the consequences of
working illegally via mainstream media outreach. Thus far, several
articles have been published and received wide distribution.
Previously, journalists from papers such as the Wall Street Journal
have reported on this industry (and quoted illegal Israelis);
additional, mass-audience articles should also help push this
campaign forward.

————————————–
New Mailing Address for Official Mail
————————————–
75.(SBU) The Department of State and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS)
changed the unclassified Diplomatic Pouch regulations for sending
and receiving official mail. No longer are we to use the Diplomatic
Post Office (DPO/APO) for sending and receiving official mail. All
official mail sent to Tel Aviv should use this Diplomatic Pouch
address:

Wendy Vincent, Fraud Prevention Manager
Consular Section
9700 Tel Aviv Place
Department of State
Washington, DC 20521-9700
For security reasons, please do not write “U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv.”
For those who prefer to use express mail:

Wendy Vincent, CONS
71 Hayarkon Street
Tel Aviv, Israel 63903

———–
Conclusion
———–
76.(SBU) The Dead Sea industry is continually adapting to new
economic opportunities in addition to playing their corporate
“games.” Prior to the establishment of the Dead Sea industry,
Israelis were known to work illegally for moving companies. Though
not as widespread as the Dead Sea industry, as mentioned in reftel
A, B1B2 locksmiths also are of concern. Tel Aviv’s dedicated,
motivated fraud team and ARSO-I are working hard to stay on top of
fraud trends–it is not easy. Tel Aviv greatly appreciates its
close ties with numerous DHS agencies and officers–together we form
part of the “global” effort to combat fraud within this
fraud-riddled industry. As part of these closer ties, we thank
those CBP and USCIS officers who contributed important text and
statistics to this cable. For future fraud efforts on this issue,
Tel Aviv looks forward to working with additional partners from the
law enforcement community.

77.(SBU)Tel Aviv’s FPM, Wendy Vincent, looks forward to hearing from
others who have been working on Dead Sea industry fraud and is
willing to share information accordingly. As mentioned above, she
maintains a distribution list for Tel Aviv’s ad-hoc e-mails on Dead
Sea trends, issues and data updates to her extensive Excel document
on the Dead Sea industry. Should you wish to join this
e-distribution list or establish contact with Tel Aviv, please
e-m

10ANKARA126 2010-01-26 11:11 2010-12-30 21:09 SECRET Embassy Ankara

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RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0180
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FOR BACKGROUND

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/22/2020
TAGS: PREL PGOV MASS MARR TU AF PK IR IZ IS AM
SUBJECT: SECRETARY GATES’ TURKEY BILATERAL VISIT:
SCENESETTER

Classified By: Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, Reasons 1.4 (a,b,d)

¶1. (S) PM Erdogan welcomed President Obama’s reiteration of
support to the fight against the PKK during the December 7
meeting in the Oval Office, but the Secretary should expect
questions about how we will operationalize that commitment as
plans to withdraw from Iraq move forward. A key issue will
be how to reduce the gap between the time when the U.S. is no
longer able to provide ISR support and when we will be able
to help Turkey acquire its own capability. On missile
defense, we will look for the Secretary’s help in advancing
our work with Turkey to persuade the Turks to allow a key
radar system to be based here. The Turks are struggling to
define what they will need in terms of NATO political cover
to lessen the high cost – both in terms of domestic politics
and in relations with Iran – that Erdogan’s government
believes it will have to pay should they agree.

¶2. (S) Although our agenda with Turkey is broad and complex,
the following issues are likely to come up during the
Secretary’s trip:

“Need To Raise”
—————-

– Our commitment to continue sharing real-time intelligence
to support Turkey’s counter-PKK fight, but caution that the
process for Turkey to acquire an armed UAV system from the
U.S. will be long and complex. (para 3-5, 14)

– The need for a NATO BMD system with Turkey’s participation
and the Iranian threat against NATO interests. (para 6-9)

– Appreciation for Turkey’s efforts on Afghanistan/Pakistan,
particularly for its new commitments to training security
forces. (para 10-11)

– Appreciation for support to OIF/OEF through Turkey’s
territory, including the Incirlik Cargo Hub; easing transit
of non-lethal mil cargo shipments from Iraq to Afghanistan.
(para 12)

– Our advocacy support for Raytheon and Sikorsky on sales of
air defense systems and utility helicopters (para 13).

“Be Ready To Respond On”
————————

– Pressure for direct U.S. milops against the PKK (paras 5)

– Turkish requests for 24/7 Predator coverage of the
Turkey-Iraq border to counter PKK operations and activities
(para 5).

– Turkish requests for immediate delivery of AH-1W
helicopters (para 15)

Counter – PKK Operations: Still Turkey’s Top Priority
——————————————— ——–

¶3. (C) Turkey’s counter-terrorist efforts against the PKK
have evolved in the past year and have expanded beyond
military action alone. Although the government’s renamed
National Unity Project (initially called the “Kurdish
Opening”) was not fully developed when launched and appears
to be moving slowly, the government has increased social and
economic support to ethnic Kurds in southeast Turkey,
dramatically broadened the rights of Kurds to use their own
language, and increased educational opportunities as well.
It is post’s view that the military success against the PKK,
supported by our intelligence-sharing operation, has given
the civilians the political space to explore this opening and
to deal directly with Masoud Barzani and other Iraqi Kurds.
Turkish military operations against the PKK continue,
however, and on October 6, 2009 Parliament extended the
government’s mandate to conduct cross-border operations
against the PKK in Iraq for another year. Turkey’s leaders
have learned from us and from their own experience that only

a whole-of-government approach will succeed against the PKK
insurgency.

¶4. (C) Our November 2007 decision to share operational
intelligence was a turning point for the bilateral
relationship, and President Obama’s declaration before the
Turkish Parliament in April 2009 and during his oval office
meeting with Erdogan in December 2009 of our continuing
commitment to support Turkey’s fight against the PKK were
warmly welcomed. Our cooperation has helped to improve the
bilateral relationship across the board, particularly by
making it difficult for PKK terrorists to use northern Iraq
as a safe haven. We can never reiterate enough our
continuing committment, as President Obama did effectively
with PM Erdogan in December.

¶5. (C) Nevertheless, Turkish causalities are still occurring.
Turkey still looks for more support, and will press us for
more concrete action before the U.S. completes its withdrawal
from Iraq. CHOD Basbug will likely repeat the GOT’s request
for laser-designation of targets and/or direct U.S.
operations against the PKK. In December, PM Erdogan also
asked POTUS for 24-hour Predator coverage. At present we
provide approximately 12-hour coverage, with an occasional
surge to 24 hours to support specific Turkish operations,
such as against High Value Targets. A move to 24-hour
coverage is not easy due to resources requirements elsewhere;
however, we may be able to provide a few weeks of 24-hour
coverage during crucial spring months, and are working with
TGS to determine exactly where and when it would be most
useful to do so, and what assets the Turkish military would
employ if additional UAV support is made available.

Missile Defense
—————-

¶6. (S) The Turks asked us to postpone a return visit from
Ellen Tauscher, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and
International Security, as they are still considering how
best to respond to our request to base an AN/TPY-2 and
(potentially) other MD assets in Turkey. While some of the
Turks’ technical questions remain unanswered, the key
questions are now political. During his meeting with
President Obama, PM Erdogan said that such a system must be
implemented in a NATO context to diminish the political cost
that his government will likely bear, both in terms of
domestic politics and in Turkey’s relations with Iran. The
ball is now in the court of the civilian leaders here to
determine just “how much NATO” will be enough for them
politically; NATOs inability to fund an “interim capability”
makes it harder for us to show parallel development of a NATO
BMD system with PAA. Erdogan is concerned that Turkey’s
participation might later give Israel protection from an
Iranian counter-strike.

¶7. (S) We have made the point to the Turks that a decision to
not base the AN/TPY-2 radar in Turkey is essentially a
decision to opt out of missile defense coverage for Turkey;
this would not be a political consequence, but just a fact
based on physics and geometry. It is important to make this
point again (gently) with PM Erdogan, but also underscore
that we value Turkey’s participation and will try to
“NATOize” the system, if Turkey will tell us how much NATO
would be enough.

¶8. (S) Behind all this, we fear, is a manifestation of both
the Turkish government’s, and to some degree the Turkish
public’s, growing distancing from the Atlanticist world view
now that most dangers for Turkey are gone. While Turks are
not naive about Iran (see below), MD places them in a pickle,
forcing them to choose between the U.S./West and a Middle
East “vocation” – which, while not necessarily includes
coddling Iran, requires palpable space between Turkey and
“the West.”

Iran
—-

¶9. (S) Turkey understands and partially shares U.S. and
international concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but is
hesitant to use harsh language in public statements, in part
due to its dependence on Iran as an energy supplier and as a
trade route to Central Asian markets. It has worked quietly
with us to prevent some proliferation-sensitive shipments to
and from Iran. Turkey’s top civilian and military officials
may have come to the conclusion that a military strike
against Iran would be more harmful for Turkey’s interests
than Iran gaining a nuclear weapons capability; they believe
international pressure against Iran only helps to strengthen
Ahmadinejad and the hard-liners. PM Erdogan himself is a
particularly vocal skeptic of the U.S. position. However,
Turkey did press Iran (albeit quietly) to accept the P5 plus
1 Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) offer and FM Davutoglu had
been personally engaged in trying to rescue the TRR deal,
which would have removed a significant portion of Iran’s
lowly-enriched uranium stockpile. As a current member of the
UNSC, the Turks would be very hesitant to support sanctions
against Iran. We need nevertheless to encourage PM Erdogan
to support UN actions if Iran does not comply with Iran’s
international obligations while underscoring that we view
Iran’s program as a serious threat to NATO interests in
Europe and would like to see a non-military solution
(including Turkish participation in NATO BMD).

Afghanistan/Pakistan
———————-

¶10. (SBU) Turkey has been a dedicated partner in Afghanistan.
It has commanded ISAF twice since its inception and again
took command of RC-Capital in November. Turkey leads PRT
Wardak and plans to open a second PRT in Jawzjan (also
covering Sar-e-Pol) in mid-2010. Turkey has sponsored the
“Ankara Process” dialogue, one of several efforts to
encourage constructive communications between Kabul and
Islamabad, and is a leading participant in the Friends of
Democratic Pakistan. It hosted a trilateral summit on
January 25 and a Afghanistan Regional Summit (including all
of Afghanistan’s immediate neighbors as well as select other
countries including the U.S.) on January 26, just prior to
the January 28 London Conference on Afghanistan.

¶11. (C) Turkey pledged significant aid to both countries:
USD 200 million to Afghanistan and USD 100 million to
Pakistan, as well as USD 1.5 million to the ANA. There are
1750 Turkish troops in Afghanistan, and Turkey has four OMLTs
currently in Kabul and, since December, pledged two more
OMLTs and one POMLT. Because of its culture, history and
religious orientation, as well as Foreign Minister
Davutoglu’s strategic ambition, Turkey is well disposed to
act as an agent of the international community’s goals in
Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 2010, Turkey has pledged to
offer 6-8 week trainings for up to a brigade’s worth of
Afghan military and police personnel in Turkey and will
establish a training center in Kabul capable of training up
to 600 ANSA personnel at a time.

Retrograde through Turkey
————————-

¶12. (S) Turkey’s agreement to allow us to use its territory,
facilities and airspace has been essential to our ability to
support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. We now look to
expand current capabilities to transit materiel from Iraq to
join up with the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) to
Afghanistan. CENTCOM logisticians, working with us and our
EUCOM Office of Defense Cooperation, seek to take advantage
of improved commercial ties between Turkey and Iraq to move
non-lethal equipment across Turkey to join the NDN. We are
working to expand our current retrograde agreements to
minimize the time and bureaucracy involved, and to expand
permissions to allow non-lethal military equipment, including
armored transport vehicles.

Advocacy for U.S. Defense Industry
———————————-

¶13. (C) We much appreciate SecDef’s help in advocating for
U.S. firms competing for key projects in Turkey, and hope he
can raise both Sikorsky’s and Raytheon’s cases in person.
Sikorsky’s “International Blackhawk” proposal holds
remarkable benefits. This deal represents a new level of
industrial partnership; Sikorsky guarantees that it would
build in Turkey – for sale outside of Turkey – one Blackhawk
for each one the GOT builds and buys for itself; this is a
boon of hundreds of millions of dollars for the Turkish
economy. On Air Defense, Raytheon’s PAC-3 is competing in a
tender for Turkey’s air defense. Raytheon also seeks to take
advantage of Turkish industry’s ability to co-produce complex
systems with us and would produce systems for sale in the UAE
and elsewhere. The benefit to Turkey’s economy from such
co-production would likely exceed USD 1 billion. Technically
and operationally, there is no system which can compete with
the PAC-3, but Turkey’s Defense Ministry seeks to broaden
competition to include lower-cost options from Russia and
even from European producers. Raytheon often asks us to
remind the Turks that a decision on requests for support on
Missile Defense should not necessarily affect a decision on
PAC-3.

UAV’s, Attack Helicopters, and Intel Surge
——————————————

¶14. (C) Turkey seeks to acquire, on an urgent basis, its own
ISR capability to replace the US assets currently being used
in anti-PKK operations. President Obama told PM Erdogan in
December that we support Turkey’s request to acquire armed
Reaper UAVs. Nevertheless, approval for armed Reapers is
complicated due to Hill concerns. We have explained this to
the Turks. However, even if those could be overcome, the
delivery pipeline for these systems is long, and Turkey’s
leaders have sought reassurance that we will not pull our
intelligence support until they can replace it. While we are
working to enhance Turkey’s ISR capabilities, we have not
made this commitment to date.

¶15. (C) Bad GOT procurement decisions led Turkey to a severe
shortage of dual engine, high altitude attack helicopters,
which it desperately needs to fight the PKK. PM Erdogan
raised this issue with the President in December 2009; SecDef
should expect this issue to be a top priority in meetings
with Minister Gonul and with GEN Basbug. The Turks took
SecDef’s May 2009 letter to provide up to four AH-1W
helicopters each in 2011, 2012 and 2013 as a firm commitment,
and now have asked us to advance that date to 2010. They do
not accept our explanation that these aircraft are simply not
available from our inventory, as they believe they have —
just like the U.S. — “troops in contact” and need the close
tactical support. While SecDef should make no commitment, we
should also explore whether we can persuade Taiwan to sell or
lease some of its own AH-1W aircraft now that Taiwan is
taking delivery of Apaches.

Support For The US-Turkey-Iraq “Tripartite Security Dialogue”
——————————————— —————-

¶16. (S) SecDef’s visit will take place just as USFI’s GEN
Odierno will have left. We expect that GEN Odierno’s visit
will give a political boost to the U.S.-Turkey-Iraq
Tripartite Security talks. Turkey’s civilian leaders are
taking heat from their domestic political opposition for
pressing the “Kurdish Opening” while casualties from PKK
attacks continue. They hope to use GEN Odierno’s visit to
show that their whole-of-government approach against PKK
insurgency is producing results and that it has the support
of senior USG officials in Iraq.

¶17. (S) Trilateral meetings continue regularly and a new
Tripartite operational office in Erbil, established to share
counter-PKK intelligence was established over the summer.
The most recent tri-lat meeting took place in Baghdad in
December, followed by a joint Turkey-Iraq visit in Erbil.
The Turks remain frustrated that, in their view, the KRG is
not doing enough to combat the PKK. The Turks remain shy in
sharing intelligence data; they are not convinced that they

can trust Iraqi/Kurdish individuals to keep information
concerning operations secret. Turkish officials have become
more strident in their calls for KRG officials to take action
against the PKK. The cooperation that does exist is a step in
the right direction; however, it will need to improve
significantly prior to the U.S. pullout of Iraq. CHOD Basbug
and PM Ergodan want the U.S. to put more pressure on the
Iraqis – and particularly Masoud Barzani – to take actions to
cut PKK supply and logistics lines in northern Iraq. We
should stress the need for more trust and collaboration
between Turkey and Iraq, eventually on Turkish CBOs. Absent
greater cooperation, we could see significant bilateral
problems post-2011, to include Iraqi claims of Turkey’s
violation of its sovereign territory.

Northern Iraq
————–

¶18. (C) Turkey will not consider any alternative to the
political unity and territorial integrity of Iraq, but has
become more flexible on how it engages “the local authorities
of northern Iraq” (how Turkey refers officially to the
Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)). Turkey’s policy remains
focused on the government in Baghdad, but its outreach to the
KRG is expanding. This outreach is reinforced by the
continued dominance of Turkish products and investments in
the KRG’s healthy economy.

Armenia
——-

¶19. (S) The signing of the Protocols to reestablish
Turkish-Armenian relations and open the common border in
Zurich on October 10 was a landmark for the region. However,
neither Turkey nor Armenia have taken steps toward
ratification; the GOT argues that progress toward withdrawal
of Armenian forces from Azerbaijani provinces surrounding
Nagorno-Karabakh is a pre-condition. (Note: This was
not/not part of the agreement, and not a position the U.S.
supports. End note.) Future relations will nevertheless
still be heavily linked to the 1915 “Armenian genocide”
issue. Any U.S. determination of the events of 1915 as
“genocide” would set off a political firestorm in Turkey, and
the effect on our bilateral relationship — including
political, military, and commercial aspects — would be
devastating.

Israel
——

¶20. (C) While the Foreign Ministry and the Turkish General
Staff agree with us that a strong Turkey-Israel relationship
is essential for regional stability, PM Erdogan has sought to
shore up his domestic right flank through continued populist
rhetoric against Israel and its December 2008 Gaza operation.
His outburst at Davos and the last-minute cancellation of
Israel’s participation in the Fall 2009 Anatolian Eagle
Exercise (a multilateral Air Force exercise which had US,
Turkey, Italy, and Israel as planned participants) were the
most noticeable examples of this rhetoric, which we and his
staff have sought to contain. The latest incident, a snub in
early January of the Turkish Ambassador by Israeli Deputy
Foreign Minster Danny Ayalon, almost caused the GOT to both
recall its Ambassador and cancel the visit of Israeli Defense
Minister Ehud Barak. However, the very public row was
resolved with an Israeli apology and Barak’s visit on January
17 helped to stem the downward spiral for now. Nevertheless,
we assess that Erdogan is likely to continue anti-Israel
remarks and the issues will continue to cast a shadow on the
TU-IS bilateral relationship.

Political Environment
———————

¶21. (C) PM Erdogan’s Islamist-leaning Justice and Development
(AK) Party remains Turkey’s strongest political party, but
its poll numbers are slumping, and it continues to fear an
erosion of its political base from more conservative/Islamist

parties. Civilian-military relations remain complex. Chief
of Staff General Basbug has worked out a modus vivendi with
PM Erdogan, but the long-running struggle between Turkey’s
secularists (with the Army as its champion) and Islamists
(represented by the government) naturally puts them at odds.
Erdogan has the clear upper hand, a fact with which Basbug
has seemingly learned to live. Alleged past military
involvement in coup contingency planning or even deliberate
generation of internal chaos remains political theme number
one and preoccupies both Erdogan and Basbug and their
respective underlings. Public trust in the military is
starting to decline, the result of several very public
on-going investigations into the alleged planning against the
government.
Jeffrey

“Visit Ankara’s Classified Web Site at http://www.intelink.s
gov.gov/wiki/Portal:Turkey”

10ABUDHABI47 2010-01-31 13:01 2010-12-25 21:09 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Abu Dhabi

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GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 0009

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 ABU DHABI 000047

SIPDIS
NOFORN
FOR NEA/ARP, NEA/IPA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/01/31
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER PINR KPAL KWBG KCRM IS SY AE
SUBJECT: HAMAS COMMANDER KILLED IN DUBAI HOTEL

CLASSIFIED BY: Richard Olson, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

¶1. (U) On January 29, approximately 9:00 am local time Friday,
Reuters first reported the January 20 murder in a Dubai hotel of
senior Hamas member Mahmoud Abdul Raouf Mohammad Hassan (known as
Mahmoud Al Mabhouh). The brief wire story preceded the release of
an official statement from the Dubai government later in the day.
Al Mabhouh’s remains were flown from Dubai to Syria on January 28.
He was buried January 29 in a refugee camp in Damascus, as Dubai
officials briefed local and international media on his murder.

¶2. (U) The initial Dubai government media office statement said Al
Mabhouh “entered the UAE on January 19 at 3:15 pm from an Arab
country. His body was found in the afternoon of January 20 in a
Dubai hotel where he was staying.” Official statements on January
29 expressed confidence the killers would be arrested: “The ongoing
investigation will speed up and police will be presenting the
suspects to court for trial as soon as possible, in coordination
with Interpol. The suspects left the UAE before the deceased’s
body was found in a Dubai hotel.” (Note: The hotel was the Al
Bustan Rotana near Dubai International Airport. End Note.)

¶3. (U) On Al Jazeera television January 29, Dubai Chief of Police
Dhahi Khalfan Tamim said “I cannot rule out the possibility of
Mossad involvement in the assassination of Mabhouh.” Tamim told
local journalists Dubai Police were “pursuing individual suspects,
not an organization” and that it was “still early to start pointing
fingers on who is behind the crime.” Tamim also confirmed the
victim entered the UAE on a passport bearing his real name, after a
Hamas spokesman in Damascus told the media Al Mabhouh possessed
five passports but traveled frequently to Dubai using his actual
identity.

¶4. (U) Local media coverage on January 30 and 31 focused on
statements from Al Mabhouh’s family members and Hamas officials in
Gaza and Syria, where he lived since 1989. Local and international
media reports noted he was the second foreign militant murdered in
Dubai in less than a year. Former Chechen commander Sulim
Yamadayev was shot and killed near an exclusive Dubai apartment
complex in late March 2009.

¶5. (S/NF) Ambassador happened to be at a social event with Foreign
Minister Abdullah bin Zayed’s media advisor when the story broke,
and he drew the latter’s attention to it. The media advisor
(protect) after making a few calls reported back that the UAE’s
public posture was being discussed between Dubai Ruler Mohammed bin
Rashid and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. The two
options discussed were to say nothing at all, or to reveal more or
less the full extent of the UAE’s investigations. (Comment:
Saying nothing would have been perceived as protecting the Israelis
and in the end, the UAE chose to tell all. The statement was
carefully drafted not to point any fingers, but the reference in
the document (see below) to a gang with western passports will be
read locally as referring to the Mossad. End Comment.)

¶6. (U)

Text of Official Statement

Dubai Police identify suspects in murder of Mahmoud Al Mabhouh

Jan 29, 2010 – 06:18

WAM Dubai, Jan 29th, 2010

WAM)–Dubai Government media office has announced that Dubai police
have identified suspects in the murder crime of Palestinian Hamas
member Mahmoud Abdul Raouf Hassan and that they would soon track
them down and refer to court in conjunction with International

ABU DHABI 00000047 002 OF 002

Police (Interpol).

The suspects were reported to have left the country before the
murder crime was reported. The deceased’s body was later discovered
at a hotel in Dubai.

An official security source in Dubai said that the initial
investigations suggest that the murder was inflicted by experienced
criminal gang, who had been tracking down the movements of the
victim before entering the UAE. “Despite quick skill exhibited by
murderers, yet they left behind evidence at the scene of crime that
would help in tracking them down at earliest. Dubai police no
longer believe in ambiguous or unknown crime”.

The source further disclosed that the investigations revealed that
the suspects hold European passports, adding that Dubai police
would embark in arrangements with Interpol to arrest the suspects
and bring them to books. “The evidence will speedily help competent
authorities to track down the suspects”.

Known as Mahmoud Al Mabhouh, the deceased, a Palestinian, entered
into the UAE at 3.15PM, on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010, from an Arab
country. His body was found the following day at afternoon on Jan.
20, 2010, at a hotel he resided at in Dubai.
OLSON

10BEIRUT96 2010-01-29 16:04 2010-12-07 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Beirut

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RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 4012
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RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 3890
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 0147
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SIPDIS

EO 12958 DECL: 01/29/2020
TAGS PREL, PGOV, UNSC, MARR, MOPS, PTER, PINR, IS, SY, LE
SUBJECT: UNSCOL WILLIAMS ON UNIFIL INCIDENT, GHAJAR

REF: A. BEIRUT 53 B. 09 BEIRUT 974 C. 09 BEIRUT 1334
Classified By: Ambassador Michele J. Sison for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
¶1. (C) Summary: UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL) Michael Williams shared with the Ambassador on January 27 a disturbing report of a January 23 act of aggression against a UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) foot patrol in the southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil involving an angry crowd and denial of the UNIFIL patrol’s freedom of movement. Williams called the incident “clearly worrying” because of its quick escalation and its occurrence during a routine patrol. Following his January 24-26 consultations in Israel, Williams also questioned the GOI’s commitment to withdrawal from the occupied Lebanese village of Ghajar. While Williams concluded that the GOI did not expect an immediate conflict with Hizballah, he reported it still harbored deep concern about potentially destabilizing factors in south Lebanon. Even so, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) praised its relationship with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) via the Tripartite mechanism. On UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1559, Williams argued against the insistence of some Lebanese that the resolution be “canceled,” noting “the big elephant in the room is Hizballah End Summary.
ROUTINE PATROL OBSTRUCTED, INCIDENT ESCALATED
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¶2. (C) The “temporary obstruction” of UNIFIL’s movement January 23 in the southern town of Bint Jbeil was a violation of UNSCR 1701, UNSCOL Michael Williams told the Ambassador on January 27, since any denial of UNIFIL’s movement was considered a violation. At approximately 1100 on January 23, members of an eight-man French UNIFIL foot patrol noticed that they were being photographed by individuals following them in a civilian vehicle. Soon after a UNIFIL soldier wrote down the car’s license plate number, a crowd of approximately 50 people — some armed with baseball bats, metal bars, and one individual with a knife — formed around the UNIFIL soldiers. The soldier’s notebook was seized by a member of the crowd and set ablaze with kerosene. After the crowd tried to isolate one of the UNIFIL soldiers in a threatening manner, the patrol fired warning shots. While the members of the LAF were present, it is not clear what role they played. Reportedly, one of the LAF soldiers told his UNIFIL counterpart that UNIFIL needed to “respect the (local residents’) rights as civilians.”
¶3. (C) Williams characterized the incident as “clearly worrying.” It was “very unusual,” he emphasized, for local residents to exhibit such behavior during the course of routine patrols, especially because the UNIFIL unit was not headed to search someone’s home. When asked for his assessment of the LAF’s and UNIFIL’s renewed commitment to work together more closely after several incidents in the second half of 2009, Williams replied it was not yet clear what specific steps had been taken to improve the relationship.

DEALBREAKERS ON GHAJAR REMAIN UNRESOLVED
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¶4. (C) UNIFIL’s January 25 meeting with the GOI Ghajar team was positive, UNIFIL polchief Milos Strugar told polchief separately on January 26. The Israeli team had visited the village, spoken with residents and local leaders, and inspected infrastructure since their last meeting, so they had a more comprehensive picture of the issues involved, he underscored. On January 25, the Israelis made a presentation on humanitarian issues to be addressed, Strugar said, but they did not return to discuss the key security and legal jurisdictional concerns they had raised previously (ref A). Strugar, who had been downcast after the Israelis presented a maximalist position on January 7, was more upbeat, although he assessed that the talks would progress slowly despite what he described as “an effort” on the Israeli side.
¶5. (C) The next meeting between UNIFIL and the GOI on Ghajar would be held in approximately two weeks due to the disruption caused by the handover of UNIFIL,s command from Italian General Claudio Graziano to Spanish General Alberto Asarta Cuevas, Strugar noted. In his final Tripartite meeting on January 25, which Cuevas attended, Graziano laid out the history of the Ghajar issue and described the current status of negotiations, Strugar said. His comments, in memorandum form, would be the basis for Asarta going forward, Strugar explained. Williams believed Asarta shared Graziano’s understanding of the importance of resolving Ghajar, although Graziano had invested a great deal of his personal capital on the issue.
¶6. (C) In his meeting in Jerusalem, Strugar reported, Graziano conveyed his concerns regarding the Israeli presentation made on January 7 and urged the Israelis to return to the UNIFIL plan as a basis for progress. Strugar described the Israelis as “open” and said that MFA DG Yossi Gal emphasized that the previous Israeli presentation was “just a starting point.” The Israelis will return to the UNIFIL plan as a basis, Strugar predicted, although he believed that the legal and jurisdictional questions at stake — not the security ones — would be difficult to resolve. Before the next meeting, UNIFIL would brief the Lebanese on the negotiations, as well, Strugar confirmed. UNSCOL Williams told the Ambassador that it was his impression that no progress had been made on the legal or security questions raised with respect to Ghajar, terming the remaining concerns “dealbreakers.”
¶7. (C) After Williams’ January 24-26 consultations in Israel, he believed that Israel was “looking for something” from Lebanon before withdrawing from Ghajar. Williams relayed that the Israelis did not specify what that “something” could be, but in any case, he was not convinced that the GOL had the political cover — or inclination — to negotiate seriously over Ghajar. He noted that the Israeli Ministry of Defense seemed more “flexible” on the issue, while he questioned whether the MFA (the lead agency) was really committed. MOD General Yossi Heymann, whom Williams called “impressive,” believed that the issue of Ghajar was suffering from “over legislation” and that sometimes it was better to “have some gray.” When Israel pulled out of Ghajar in 2000, there were no detailed arrangements and it “kind of” worked, Heymann pointed out. Williams said he assured his Israeli interlocutors that after an Israeli withdrawal from Ghajar, he would “do (his) damnedest” to push the Lebanese to take reciprocal positive steps in accordance with their UNSCR 1701 obligations.

ISRAELI CONCERNS IN LEBANON
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¶8. (C) Williams reported that while in Israel, he had met with not only Gal and Heymann, but also with representatives of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office, as well as MOD Chief of Staff General Gabi Ashkenazi for the first time. Williams reported the GOI did not expect a conflict with Hizballah in the near future along the Blue Line. He heard repeated worries, however, about the potential for Hizballah to acquire anti-aircraft missiles or act on its standing threat to retaliate for the death of Imad Mughniyeh. Ashkenazi assessed that the early January attack on the convoy of the Israeli ambassador in Jordan could have had some limited Hizballah involvement, but it was uncharacteristically unsophisticated for the group, Williams said. Israeli interlocutors also expressed concerns about extremist Palestinian groups in Lebanon, particularly in the Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp near Saida.
¶9. (C) For his part, Williams expressed concern to the Ambassador that if another rocket attack were to occur — whether by Palestinian militants or Hizballah — Israel would respond forcefully. In such an event, UNIFIL would likely be unable to contain any escalation, he worried, adding, “Everything we’ve worked for could go away in as little 12 hours.”

IDF PRAISE FOR THE LAF
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¶10. (C) The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) praised the LAF’s participation in the Tripartite talks, especially the leadership of Brigadier General Abdulruhman Shehaitly, Williams said. General Heymann had mentioned to Williams, in particular, the late August incident when an (possibly mentally ill) Israeli citizen walked across the Blue Line and was picked up and returned to Israel by the LAF after questioning (ref B). In that instance, Heymann asserted to Williams, the credit for the man’s return to Israeli authorities goes to the LAF and former UNIFIL Commander General Graziano.

UNSCOL ON 1559
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¶11. (C) When asked about the December efforts by some to target UNSCR 1559, Williams explained that Security Council resolutions never die or “get canceled,” as some Lebanese politicians had advocated. Williams noted that many Lebanese were naive about why UNSCR 1559 still existed, even though the resolution had not yet been fully implemented. While key parts of UNSCR 1559, such as Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon, had been implemented, Williams said, “the big elephant in the room is Hizballah.” Williams noted that Lebanese FM Ali Chami had not raised the issue of UNSCR 1559 recently, despite Chami’s involvement in lighting December’s media firestorm on the issue (ref C). During his latest consultations in Israel, Williams recalled, no one had raised the issue of UNSCR 1559 either.
¶12. (C) Williams confirmed that the next UNSCR 1701 report was due at the end of February, with consultations to follow in March, but the next UNSCR 1559 report was not due until April. Williams characterized this timeline as “a better sequence.” He noted that previously, when the UNSCR 1559 report had come first, it added tensions to the UNSCR 1701 report and consultations.
¶13. (C) COMMENT: The January 23 incident in Bint Jbeil is disturbing because of its rapid escalation and the unanswered questions about the role the LAF played. We will underscore the need for strong UNIFIL-LAF cooperation with new UNIFIL Commander Asarta in a scheduled February 4 meeting and with our LAF interlocutors at the first opportunity. End Comment. SISON