Wednesday, January 25, 2012

State Department in-depth report on Israeli kiosk vendors in U.S.A....


State Dept. cites kiosk's links to organized crime and money laundering....


January , 2012 -- State Department in-depth report on Israeli kiosk vendors in U.S.


On January 25, 2010, the U.S. State Department issued an in-depth report on the operations of Israeli kiosk vendors in shopping malls across the United States. Although the report, released in the tranche of cables exposed by WikiLeaks, did not mention the links of these Israeli vendors to Israeli intelligence operations in the United States, the report does provide an insight into the vendors' ties to money laundering, organized crime, and visa violations.

The U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv recommended a ban on U.S. visas for any Israeli having just completed military service. Most of the Israelis operating in shopping malls recently completed their obligatory military service. But as numerous U.S. intelligence reports have stated on these vendors, many specialized in demolitions, signals intelligence, and counter-intelligence operations/

The kiosk vendors are also active in Canada, as cited in this CBC report from December 22, 2010:

"A man accused of bringing illegal workers to Halifax will be allowed to stay in Toronto until his next court appearance.

Iftash Jacob was released from custody Thursday after surrendering his passport and posting a $7,500 bond.

He must report to the Canada Border Services Agency every week and return to Halifax provincial court in February to enter a plea . . .

Jacob and nine others — all from Israel — were arrested Wednesday in a raid on a home in Halifax and kiosks at three shopping malls in the region.

Border Services officials arrested an 11th person on Thursday outside a courthouse.

Eight people — two women and six men — pleaded guilty Wednesday to working in Canada without authorization, and each was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. They are allowed to stay in the country but not work here."

The fact that the leaked cable on the Israeli operations was merely designated as "Sensitive" unclassified information may indicate that there was an addendum with a higher classification that discussed the intelligence angle of the Israeli kiosk operations.

On August 7, 2005, WMR reported:
In November 2001, the INS arrested several Israelis, including some with military backgrounds, selling Puzzle Car and Zoom Copter toys from shopping mall kiosks and vending carts. Many of the malls were located near U.S. government facilities, including the Pentagon and CIA. A majority of the Israelis, arrested for visa violations instead of espionage, worked for a Florida-based company called Quality Sales. A spokesman for the company admitted the company hired vacationing Israeli students but they had thr wrong visas. The spokesman also revealed the Israelis were deemed “special interest” cases by INS – a new government designation applied to terrorism suspects in the wake of 911. Federal authorities suspect the Israelis were using the kiosks as intelligence fronts in the same manner that Israelis were using door-to-door art sales as covers. The National Counterintelligence Center (NCIX) stated in a report issued in March 2001 that, ‘In the past six weeks, employees in federal office buildings located throughout the United States have reported suspicious activities connected with individuals representing themselves as foreign students selling or delivering artwork. Employees have observed both males and females attempting to bypass facility security and enter federal buildings.’ The report was temporarily removed from the NCIX web site.

ID
10TELAVIV140
SUBJECT
IN DEPTH: DEAD SEA COSMETICS AND SKINCARE INDUSTRY FRAUD
DATE
2010-01-25 00:00:00
CLASSIFICATION
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
ORIGIN
Embassy Tel Aviv
TEXT
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
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kazakhstan stirs Al-CIAda's terror nests....


Kazakhstan stirs Al-CIAda's terror nests....
By Jacob Zenn

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the people of Kazakhstan, like those in the rest of the former Soviet Republics, experienced a revival in religious affiliation.

In some sectors of Kazakh society, the repression of spiritual life in the Soviet days was reversed when Kazakhstan became independent in December of that year. Previously non-existent elements of Saudi-Wahhabi inspired crazy Salafism crept to the surface in Kazakhstan and are now apparent, especially in the southern and western regions of the country located near the Caspian Sea and the volatile North Caucasus....

http://www.american-buddha.com/911.howoilintploutinbombafdrill.htm

Salafism is a reform movement of Islam in which followers believe that the life of their Prophet Mohammad and the earliest Muslim community constitutes a universal paradigm for interpreting world events and history. Salafists consider the founding years of Islam to be the prototype for their cultural and religious validation and use examples from that era as a template to build relationships with "infidel" or non-Salafist Muslim communities in the contemporary world.

"Jihadi-Salafists" see historical evolution as the unfolding of a single contest: the struggle of Good (true Islam) versus Evil (false Islam and Disbelief). [1] Although Salafist doctrine is largely rejected by the Islamic world, Saudi Arabia and Qatar stand apart as the leading country that preaches the doctrine.

Although "Salafists", or "Wahabbis" - as Central Asians and Russians commonly call them - are still a small minority at less than 1% of the population in Kazakhstan, they are having a more significant impact on the country than this would suggest.

Increasing numbers of Salafists in Kazakhstan are being influenced by calls to violence from jihadis in the North Caucasus and from Jund al-Khilafa (JaK - Army of the Caliphate), a terrorist group led by Kazakhs based in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.

According to its online statements, JaK is comprised of "mujahideen from different nationalities, but is made up 90% Kazakh nationals who are interested in the military, faith, intellectual, and political support for our brothers in order for them to rise to an acceptable level of ability to wage the fight" against the regime of President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Three videos that JaK released in 2011 attest that the group has operated in Khost province, Afghanistan, against US forces along with Taliban-supported foot soldiers.

While not all Salafists promote violence and not all aspiring jihadis are Salafists, there is a link between Salafist fundamentalist interpretations of Islam and terrorist attacks that have been carried out in Kazakhstan. In 2011, three terror incidents in claimed by JaK - in Atyrau, Taraz and Boraldai, Almaty - bore the mark of Jihadist-Salafist influence.

Terror let loose
On November 12, 2011, in Taraz, southeastern Kazakhstan, Maksat Kariyev went on a noontime rampage killing five security officers, one gun shop guard, and himself in a suicide bombing that he detonated when a police commander approached him.

The interrogation of six members of the cell that prepared Kariyev for the attack revealed that one was a "spiritual mentor" who drew up the attack plan for Kariyev and helped purchase and store the RPG-26 grenade launcher, RGD-5 grenade, Makarov pistol and two sawed-off shotguns that Kariyev used in the attack, which lasted several hours.

Kariyev, who has a background as former senior rifleman in the Kazakh army, was an ideal fighter to carry out the attack from an operational standpoint. However, from an ideological standpoint, Kariyev was weak. He was a drinker who suffered from fits of temper tantrums and could not hold a job or live in a permanent residence after leaving the army.

Kariyev consulted with local imams prior to his attack and asked about the consequences of him committing a suicide attack to kill infidels. The cell’s "spiritual leader" ultimately persuaded Kariyev and the other cell members to conduct jihad and kill police officers in order to establish an Islamic caliphate. When Kariyev carried out the attack, he drugged himself up on narcotics and followed those orders.

JaK said in a statement the day after the attack that:
In Taraz, you saw with your own eyes what one soldier did to you, and God willing you will see horrors by the hands of men who don't fear death and give their souls easily to support the religion of Islam and defend the honor of the Muslims.
On October 31, in Atyrau, a port city on the Caspian Sea in western Kazakhstan, a terrorist blew himself up next to an apartment building near the intended target - the Prosecutor-General's office - and another bomb detonated in a garbage can blocks away. The terrorist who blew himself up did so by mistake. A claim of credit by JaK following the attack stated that:
We refute that the last attack was carried out as a martyrdom-operation. It seems that the bomb exploded accidentally, which led to the martyrdom of its carrier. We ask Allah to accept him among the martyrs.
The cell responsible for the two explosions in Atyrau was formed in 2009 by 20-year-olds who were inspired by the ethnic Buryat Russian-born Islamic convert Said Buryatsky, who became a jihadi leader in the North Caucasus before Russian forces killed him in 2010.

In 2011, the Atyrau cell connected with JaK's leadership in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region and received orders to carry out the bombings.

That Atyrau was the site of the October 31 explosions is symptomatic of the growing extremism in the province. According the Director of Religion Department in Atyrau, 90% of Atyrau province's 8,000 practicing Muslims are between the ages of 13 and 30 and 70% of those 8,000 young people are influenced by Salafism. If those numbers are correct, then there are more than 5,000 Salafists in Atyrau alone. In the case of these Atyrau bombings, it required only four of those young Salafists to carry out what could have been a deadly attack.

In Boraldai Village outside of Alamaty, five JaK fighters were killed on December 3, 2011, when Kazakhstan security forces surrounded them inside their safe house. Kazakh authorities suspected the cell of carrying out a drive-by shooting that killed two police officers on November 8 and possibly another November 11 shooting in Almaty in which two other police officers were killed.

The cell was reportedly planning additional terror attacks in Almaty before its elimination.

Only the leader of the cell, Yerik Ayazbayev, escaped from Boraldai at the time of the shootout, but he was killed on December 29 in Kyzylorda, southern Kazakhstan after police investigated what appeared to be an accidental explosion that Ayazbayev set off in his apartment building.

Like Kariyev's cell, the Boraldai cell also had a "spiritual mentor", Aghzan Khasen, who died in the shootout in Boraldai. This appears to be a standard model of Jak cells in Kazakhstan: six or seven fighters under the lead of a "spiritual mentor" who is a Jihadist-Salafist.

On December 6, three days after the Boraldai shootout, JaK issued a statement saying that JaK fighters were "ready to be killed in the thousands in order to support [Islam]" and that "losing our lives is a cheap price that we pay for this cause". JaK asked that "God give glory" to the fighters who were killed by "the apostate forces of the Nazarbayev regime" at "a base where the five lions of the al-Zahir Baybars Battalion of Jund al Khilafa were gathered".

Members of the Salafist community in western Kazakhstan, were also suspected of killing policemen in the Aktobe region on July 1, 2011, and another special unit officer on July 2 during the raid to capture the killers. Although no connection with JaK has been proven, six suspects were alleged to have taken part in the attacks, which is consistent with the size of JaK cells.

In an effort to curb Salafist influence in the country, Nazarbayev introduced a bill in September, 2011, to combat religious extremism, but one that also restrains basic religious freedoms. The bill, which has been approved by the lower house of parliament and the senate, requires religious organizations to dissolve and register again through a procedure that is virtually guaranteed to exclude smaller religious groups, including most Muslim groups and also minority Christian groups.

Trying to turn the tide
The merits of clamping on down on religion in the wake of the rising Jihadi-Salafist undercurrent in Kazakhstan needs to be weighed against the risks of alienating practicing Muslims with new religion law. But regardless, one thing is for certain. Any policy or law that affects religion will become propaganda for JaK and possibly a recruiting boon for the terror group.

On October 26, 2011, JaK released a video in which it said:
We call upon you to abolish these laws, and we also demand that you offer an apology to the people for that mistake. We demand complete freedom for Muslims to carry out their rituals of worship. In the event you insist on your position, then we will be forced to make a move against you. Know that the policy that you are following is the same that was applied in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt; however, as you have seen, it only caused loss to those who exercised it.
Five days after delivering this message, the Atyrau bombers attempted their attack. This showed that JaK could follow up on its warnings and that its words were not hollow. With JaK cells entrenched in Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev will have to add JaK's capabilities to his calculus when he considers other measures to combat the growth of Salafism in his country.

Notes 1. See Stephen Ulph.
Towards a Curriculum for the Teaching of Jihadist Ideology, Part III: The World Through a Jihadi Lens. Jamestown Foundation, October 2010.
Atambayev's Turkish affair needs domestic peace....
By Fozil Mashrab

TASHKENT - When newly elected Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev traveled to Turkey for his first official bilateral visit from January 12 to 15, many Kyrgyz watchers were looking for clues on Kyrgyzstan's future foreign policy course in the next six years - the duration of the single term allowed for a Kyrgyz President.

Others immediately criticized former prime minister Atambayev, who took over as president on December 1, for making his first blunder by not traveling to Russia, which Atambayev has often in the past called Kyrgyzstan's "main strategic partner".

Since the first foreign visit of any newly elected president carries with it great symbolic meaning, should we also expect the resurgence of Turkey's influence in Central Asia in general and in Kyrgyzstan in particular in the near future, in a rerun of the heady early 1990s? Then, Turkey unsuccessfully attempted to position itself as a "big brother" for newly independent Turkic countries of Central Asia, only to abandon such ambitions when it became clear that Turkey was trying to punch above its weight given the limitations of its economic strength.

Turkey's foremost priority and preoccupation for the past 40 years or so has been integration into the European Union, so Ankara's periodic surges of interest in other regions, including Central Asia, have waxed and waned based on the progress or lack of thereof in its talks with the EU.

This time, the new-found love between Kyrgyzstan and Turkey seems to suggest that it is not Turkey that is trying to reengage its Central Asian cousin more strongly; rather, President Atambayev is attempting to diversify Kyrgyzstan's foreign policy away from superpowers such as Russia, the United States and China and thus lessen his country's heavy dependence on them. Cultivating the so-called second-tier countries like Turkey may look a better bet, as they emerge as strong economies with increasing technological and investment potential.

In the past, the main foreign policy strategy of former Kyrgyz presidents has been to play one superpower against the other in order to gain maximum benefit for Kyrgyzstan and its ruling regimes. Such political brinkmanship and attempts to juggle superpower interests have been detrimental for Kyrgyzstan. They have led to two forced regime changes in a decade, each time as the balance was perceived to be tilting too much towards one superpower at the cost of the other.

It is widely believed that US threw its weight behind the so-called bloodless "Tulip Revolution" in May 2005, when president Askar Akaev was ousted - he then found asylum in Russia. The bloody overthrow of Kurmanbek Bakiev in April 2010 was the result of a combination of economic sanctions and political pressure from the Kremlin.

In the aftermath of the violent regime change in 2010, former president Bakiev's all-powerful son, Maxim Bakiev, who was the central figure in his father's regime, found safe haven in London, while Kurmanbek himself is believed to have fled to Belarus.

Superpowers like Russia, US and China have looked at Kyrgyzstan with a view of furthering their own strategic and geopolitical aims. As such, the US has not really been interested in investing much into the Kyrgyz economy, largely limiting itself to securing its strategic and geopolitical interests related to continued access to the Manas airbase near Bishkek; Russian investments and economic assistance came with political and economic domination.

Politically, China has sought the Kyrgyz government's support for its repression of ethnic Uyghurs in its restive western Xinjiang province, and economically it has been interested in marketing its products in Kyrgyzstan and using the country Kyrgyzstan to penetrate the markets elsewhere in the region.

The week before traveling to Turkey, President Atambayev played host to Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister, who was in Kyrgyzstan's capital, Bishkek, as part of a bilateral exercise to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Atambayev and Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov spared no effort in trying to convince their Japanese guests that Kyrgyzstan was safe for foreign investments in various sectors, including, first and foremost, mining.

Therefore, Kyrgyz government's recent attempts at courting Japan, Turkey and other second-tier countries are meant to diversify Kyrgyzstan's foreign partners and aim at attracting much-needed foreign investments into the economy, which was severely damaged by the violent regime change and bloody ethnic clashes in 2010.

A similar foreign policy strategy has benefited neighboring Uzbekistan, whose best friends in terms of economic and investment cooperation and transfer of technologies are South Korea, Germany, India, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Turkey, Oman and some other countries which have been courted and cultivated by Uzbek government over many years.

Uzbekistan has a number of inherent advantages over Kyrgyzstan, such as vast natural gas reserves, a rich mineral base, a larger market, relatively better infrastructure and internal transportation system - and most importantly political stability, which is the bedrock for attracting foreign direct investment.

Therefore, even if Uzbekistan's humble success is used as a yardstick, Kyrgyzstan will still have a tall order to follow since successful implementation of such a strategy will require many years, if not decades, of patient and persistent work and maintenance of political stability and continuity of reforms in Kyrgyzstan. A single six-year term is not really enough to see through such a long-term strategy.

To translate the political goodwill and warm inter-personal relations between the two leaders, President Atambayev and Turkish President Abdullah Gull have agreed that both sides will work towards increasing bilateral trade turnover between the two countries to US$1 billion by 2015 from $300 million in 2011. It is an ambitious plan given the size of the Kyrgyz economy and small total volume of its foreign trade, which reached $4 billion last year.

The Turkish president also promised to help Kyrgyzstan to attract Turkish investments to the amount of $450 million in the next few years - provided the Kyrgyz authorities create favorable conditions for foreign investors.

Foreign investors' confidence in Kyrgyz economy has been shaken recently not only because of the political instability in the country but also as a result of the weak government protection of foreign investments. Some businesses established with the participation of foreign direct investment during the rule of Kurmanbek Bakiev fell prey to the Kyrgyz authorities' "nationalization campaign" carried out in the aftermath of his violent overthrow.

This campaign targeted all businesses considered to have enjoyed too cozy a relationship with the former regime or which were illegally seized by the Bakiev clan and cronies. The new Kyrgyz authorities have refused to acknowledge that it was not possible to establish and run a successful business in Kyrgyzstan during the time of Bakiev without entering some kind of deal with Maxim Bakiev or some other high-profile representatives of the regime.

Some critics of the Kyrgyz government have accused the new authorities of "flagrant disrespect for private property and asset grabbing", which was actually just history repeating itself - since former president Bakiev and his team used the same tactic in taking over various businesses and property after the overthrow of the former Askar Akaev in 2005.

If President Atambayev's pronouncements made in Turkey are any indication of what might be in store for foreign investors, then we can expect that the biggest and most lucrative foreign investment in the country - the Canadian-owned Kumtor gold mine, which contributes around 60% of Kyrgyzstan's exports - might become the next target for Kyrgyz authorities in the near future.

While addressing the Turkish Parliament, Atambayev said that in the last 10 years gold worth of $10 billion was extracted from the Kumtor mine while Kyrgyz state coffers received only 3% of that money. Such coded accusations usually precede some real arm-twisting at a later stage.

As Turkey engages Kyrgyzstan more strongly both economically and politically, its immediate responsibility will be to apply strong but well-meaning brotherly pressure on Kyrgyz leaders to bring about genuine reconciliation among the ethnic majority Kyrgyz and Kyrgyzstan's largest ethnic minority Uzbeks. Both are Turkic speaking Muslim people.

So far, Turkish leaders have conveniently chosen not to raise this issue in their bilateral talks; or if it was discussed during the recent bilateral summit, that was not publicized.

If Turkey continues to remain an indifferent bystander and look the other way when it comes to the repression and systematic violence against ethnic Uzbeks by the Kyrgyz state in the southern provinces of Osh and Jalalabad, such a policy will be short-sighted and ultimately untenable.

So far, Turkey has only sponsored one conference on the 2010 ethnic clashes in the southern part of Kyrgyzstan, which was held in the Kyrgyz Issik-Kul lake resort in their immediate aftermath. That is definitely too little for a country that considers itself as the champion of the unity and brotherhood of Turkic peoples.

Turkey will not be able to replace Russia as Kyrgyzstan's "main strategic partner" any time in the future, and Turkey does not seem to entertain any such plans. But if Turkey does indeed start to invest in the Kyrgyz economy and assist Kyrgyzstan in capacity building and military training with the prospect of establishing a complete visa-free regime between the two countries in the future, as was announced during the bilateral meetings, then Kyrgyzstan will definitely be able to lessen its dependence on Russia or any other superpower.

For that to happen, President Atambayev will be expected to ensure political stability, and a transparent and predictable environment for foreign investment in the country.

Fozil Mashrab is a pseudonym used by an independent analyst based in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
 
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