Inside Intel / Commies and a Pinko
By Yossi Melman
An Israeli with links to arms makers here is helping Peru's army fight Maoist rebels;A few months ago, the Israeli security firm, Global CST, headed by Major General (Res.) Israel Ziv, won a $10 million contract to prepare the Peruvian army's special forces for its struggle against the Sendero Luminoso ("the Shining Path") - which recently renewed its struggle. The group is a Maoist guerilla organization that has been trying to foment a Communist revolution in Peru, among other things, by murdering tens of thousands of civilians.
Ziv and his partners in the firm have previously supplied similar services in fighting against guerilla forces and terrorists, including the integration of an intelligence system, to the Georgian and Colombian armies.
In Georgia, their students failed the test and suffered a beating at the hands of the Russians.
In Colombia they succeeded in a daring commando raid, with the assistance of Americans, in saving the life of Ingrid Betancourt, the former presidential candidate who had been held prisoner for six years by the guerilla forces of the FARC rebel group.
Ziv not only prepares the army, he also has an influence on the equipment it will acquire. Thus he serves as a kind of sales representative for the Israeli military industries which reward him accordingly.
On his advice, the Peruvian army bought night vision systems manufactured by Elbit for its gun-ship helicopters. The deal amounted to about $3 million.
Ziv recently conducted negotiations to get controversial arms dealer Aaron Frankel to join his firm as a partner. Frankel was a good friend of Moshe Keret, the former CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries, which he represented in arms deals in Russia and Azerbaijan.
The State Comptroller found suspicions of criminal dealings in these affairs but the police, after investigating, recommended that the file be closed for lack of evidence.
Frankel was due to buy shares of the Mikal Group (which owns Soltam), which was forced to sell its part in Global CST after Elbit invested in Mikal with an option to buy it in its entirety.
Ziv told Haaretz yesterday that the deal had not gone through but refused to reveal details.
A kick upstairs
It is a decades-old tradition in the Defense Ministry. When they want to get rid of an employee, they give him a gentle kick upstairs. That is what happened recently to Eli Pinko, who was in charge of the branch that oversees security exports. Pinko, a veteran employee, was appointed to the job three years ago. The job and department were new and its task was to ensure that Israeli weapons, or items from the Israel Defense Forces surplus, did not get into unwanted hands and that they weren't used in a way that could hurt Israel's interests.
The director general of the Defense Ministry, Pinchas Buchris, who is planning to retire shortly, did not get along with Pinko, who apparently took his job too seriously. Arms dealers and exporters of military goods complained that he was holding up hundreds of permits for weapons deals.
Buchris decided to relieve him of his position but the Defense Ministry has its own rules - Pinko will be appointed to the (superfluous, like many others) mission of the Defense Ministry in Germany.
In his stead, Buchris is hoping to bring an army officer, but the workers' committee chairman, Eliezer Hason, has already made it clear that he will not agree to that.
The Defense Ministry did not respond to Haaretz's questions.
"An administrative matter" is how the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, defined the expulsion of the Israeli diplomat, Shmuel Polishuk, from Moscow last month.
Polishuk headed the Nativ station in Russia, which has branches in several cities there.
"Suspicion of espionage" wrote Eli Bradstein in Maariv, the newspaper which broke the story. They are both right.
According to the Russians, Polishuk was expelled from Russia because he was caught while trying to bribe a Russian citizen in order to get open information from him. Not really espionage but not something fitting for a diplomat to do.
Those who are familiar with the issue claim that is how things work in Russia. Nothing can be had without a bribe.
But Polishuk was caught red-handed by Russian secret service agents, the FSB.
This is the second time that an Israeli diplomat has been caught under these circumstances. At the end of 1995, the head of the Mossad branch in Russia, Reuven Dinel, was caught buying satellite pictures from a representative of a subsidiary of Russian intelligence.
Nativ, which Polishuk headed, actually was once an espionage organization that was part of Israel's intelligence community and also dealt with information gathering.
Today it is not clear whether there is still a need for the organization's continued existence since its main purpose is to issue visas to immigrants from the former Soviet Union whose numbers have decreased in the last few years.
However the FSB continues to view Nativ as a hostile organization which threatens Russia's security and it keeps an eye on its members. That is how it found Polishuk. The FSB tried in the past to bring Nativ's activities to an end with various excuses. Now it is taking advantage of the incident and (reportedly temporarily) closing Nativ offices in several Russian towns.
The Russian foreign ministry spokesman expressed the hope that the incident would not harm relations with Israel. Nativ is taking steps to send a replacement to head the branch there.
If pressure on the organization continues, it is possible that Israel will take counter steps and restrict the activities of the Russian cultural center in Israel.