Africa has for decades been a playground for Israel: both in the literal sense as a spot for Israelis to play in the sun (Kenya, Zanzibar, Sharm el-Sheikh–not technically in Africa, but Egypt is); and in the figurative sense regarding Israeli diplomats and spies who’ve woven their webs of intrigue there. In the days of Ben Gurion, he saw Africa as a weight to counter the hostile influence of the Arab world. That’s why Israeli development and aid projects were so intensively pursued in the 1950s and 60s.
Later, Israel made common cause with apartheid era South Africa in developing its nuclear weapons program. Israel also readily supplied arms to some of the worst insurgent movements in places like Angola on behalf of the Reagan administration and as a spoiler for Cuba in its intervention. Today, Israeli billionaires like Lev Leviev and Dan Gertler work hand in glove with military regimes and corrupt politicians in Congo, Angola and elsewhere to pry blood diamonds from African soil, which glitter on the necks and bosoms of the 1% in fashion capitals throughout the world. They reinforce the wealth and power of blood-sucking tyrants and the continuing degradation of the poor peasants who share none of this wealth.
Israel’s retrograde influence in southern Africa continues to this day. Retired Israeli intelligence officers are plying their trade in countries like Zimbabwe, where they offer the ruling party their expertise in running elections. They collect data, register voters, maintain voter rolls, conduct the elections and count the votes–all for a substantial fee of course. On their websites they can boast about their role in furthering the budding of African democracy. But in reality, they’re working hand in glove with the dictator, Robert Mugabe.
This becomes timely in light of that country’s election today which an Israeli company stands ready to help Mugabe steal…again.
These Israeli firms may have even more nefarious motives: as we know from the NSA revelations of Edward Snowden, any large-scale information gathering operation can be exploited for purposes of intelligence and gathering information on political foes. But even more importantly for Mugabe’s interests, it can ensure and prolong his grip on power. To this effect, companies like Nikuv, which play such a critical consulting role in that country, are hand-maidens of tyranny.
It’s ironic that Ben Gurion used to boast about Israel’s role in helping African colonies to become independent, develop their resources, improve education and health care. It was all nation-building and anti-colonialism in those days. But what do Israel’s intelligence interests do these days? They prop up some of the worst exemplars of human decadence and suffering in that part of the world.
Sam Sole, at South Africa’s Globe and Mail, wrote this about the company’s role in Zimbabwe’s political system (I spoke with him and offered my research information in the preparation of this report):
Eddie Cross, a Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MP who has proved to be well-informed on security matters in the past, told the Mail & Guardian that he had been informed by security sources that the company, Nikuv International Projects, is working on the roll at Defence House, the headquarters of the Zimbabwe Defence Force. The MDC also alleged that Nikuv was a front for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, although it offered no evidence to support the claim.
It is unclear what Nikuv’s involvement in this coming election is but it specialises in population registration and election systems.
Cross said the source told him that the company is working under the direction of Daniel Tonde Nhepera, the deputy head of the Zimbabwe’s dreaded internal security arm, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
…Top executives of a Nikuv associate company, ISC International Security Consultancy, have an Israeli intelligence background and Nikuv has been linked to other cases of collaboration with the Zimbabwean security services…
It also appears that individuals linked to Nikuv played a role in helping the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) obtain riot control equipment and motorbikes, which would have been difficult for the ZRP to access at the time, given international sanctions.
On August 2 2001, Zimbabwe’s Financial Gazette reported that, before the 2002 presidential elections, which the government feared that Mugabe would lose, the ZRP [ruling party] contacted Eli Antebi, who represented a company called Beit Alpha, about the purchase of the vehicles and water cannons.
We don’t even have to rely on Eddie Cross, because my confidential Israeli source has confirmed that Nikuv is closely tied to Israel’s security interests. Not just that its personnel were former Mossad agents, but that the company continues to pursue the interests of the Mossad in its ventures and consulting work.
Nikuv has been accused of election rigging and improper contract bidding in several other African countries where it plies its trade:
In Zambia, where Nikuv was brought in to manage and computerise voter registration, the United National Independence Party (Unip) accused the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) of trying to rig the 1996 election with the company’s help. Unip eventually boycotted the poll.
The Zambian opposition also accused Nikuv of landing the contract without proper tender procedures. The process was allegedly managed by the office of Vice-President Godfrey Miyanda rather than the electoral commission.
The Zambian High Court found that the registration process was flawed…
Nikuv’s offices in Lesotho were raided in March, apparently in connection with an identity document contract awarded last year in controversial circumstances…
The raid took place “because the ministry found a letter to the ministry from Nikuv saying that the project [which also includes a contract for e-passports] would cost $25-million, but the ministry presented a different figure of $29-million to the Cabinet.” The discrepancy sparked suspicion of corruption and prompted the raid, he said.
Yossi Melman writes in the Jerusalem Post Hebrew edition about the upcoming Zimbabwe elections and Nikuv’s tainted role. He also offers some added connections between the firm and Israel’s intelligence services. For example, he tells us the founder of the company, Emmanuel Entebi, is a veteran of the IDF’s cyberwarfare command, Unit 8200.
While Melman acknowledges African opposition claims that Nikuv is a Mossad front company. He parries those claims by noting that the Mossad would have little interest in a place like Zimbabwe. This may be Melman’s way of denying such a connection, but clearly any country’s intelligence services would be interested in a country with the mineral wealth and natural resources of Zimbabwe. Not to mention that the Mossad is always looking for safe harbors overseas from which it can launch operations in hostile countries or environments. It could find a great deal of use for a place like Zimbabwe as a home base for its agents.
Melman also flat-out rejects the contention that Nikuv offers any security assistance to Mugabe. Support for his claim: that the Defense Ministry has forbidden Israeli companies from doing so. Again, this begs the question, because Mossad activities are always covert and not bound by the strictures placed on any Israeli company by any Israeli ministry.
Returning to the Globe and Mail investigative piece, it presents further evidence of the tight connection between Nikuv personnel and the Mossad:
…All ISC’s [a company affiliated with Nikuv] founders and senior associates appear to have once served at the highest levels of the Israeli intelligence services.
The president and founder of ISC is Dani Issacharoff. A former colleague, who asked not to be named, said: “Dani was with Mossad – he was very, very senior.”
He is also described as a former head of security for Israel’s airline El Al and the founder and president of what appears to be ISC’s forerunner, a company called International Consultants for Targeted Security.
It should be noted that El Al’s foreign security is maintained by Israeli security agents (though from Shabak, not Mossad). So Issacharoff’s former career would be a perfect fit for him. I wonder what relation Issacharoff is to former Haaretz Arab affairs reporter, Avi Issacharoff, whose reporting I’ve been known to criticize for its over-familiarity with Israeli intelligence interests.