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Did the Mossad Do It?
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 18, 2010


Israel has not said an official word about the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al Mabhouh. The Arab press is doing the talking for them.

In more than one oped, in more than one Arabic language newspaper, Israel has been praised and applauded for the professional and efficient manner in which Mabhouh was assassinated in his hotel room in Dubai. The authors spoke with respect of the Israeli team and the way in which the team dealt with Israel's enemy far away from home. They acknowledged the sophisticated intelligence gathering techniques necessary to pull off the operation and the decision to put this particular assassination into operation.

Does Israel deserve that praise? We can't be sure. But as far as assassinations go, these assassins, whoever they really are and wherever they are now, are certainly worthy of note for carrying out an almost flawless operation. We've all read the books and seen the movies, it is not easy to carry out a mission as sensitive and as complicated as the mission they undertook and successfully completed.

It is Israeli policy not to comment on assassinations, targets, hits. The Israelis say nothing, which leads everyone else to speculate. It is possible that the operation was executed by Israelis. It is also possible Israel commissioned an outside team to execute the operation. Or perhaps Israel provided details to another agency, or even country, to perpetrate this strike against Hamas.

Israel did not stand alone in preferring a dead Mabhouh to a live, functioning, terrorizing Mabhouh. Other countries and other governments, including Arab countries, breathed a collective sigh of relief upon hearing of the death. And despite the news reports, none of these governments is asking too many questions.

From the picture that is emerging, it seems clear that Mahmoud al Mabhouh was interrogated and that during that interrogation he gave up a lot of important, even crucial, information. The information that was gleaned during this operation is more important than the assassination itself - which is now being portrayed as either an act of revenge or of justice delayed.

According to Lt. General Dahi Tamim, Chief of Police in Dubai, twelve people participated in the operation, ten men and two women, and they all entered and left Dubai within nineteen hours. Security footage at the airport and the hotel attests to the fact that the assassins were all professionals. They arrived on separate planes, checked into different hotels and changed their appearances wearing floppy hats and wigs, looking like tourists or businessmen and they entered Dubai on passports from several friendly European countries, even one from the United States.

We are now learning that most of the names used on the forged passports are the names of real people and the countries of origins on the passports are the countries from which these people hail - and that most now live in Israel. Dubai is threatening to issue arrest warrants but that would be futile and Interpol will not issue a warrant for a ghost. There is no tracing the faces and the faces do not match the names. The assassination team has disappeared.

The Arab world feels the public need to show that they are doing something to catch the bad guys, so two Palestinians were arrested in Jordan and extradited to Dubai. According to the Police Chief Tamim the men were involved in the operation and after their interrogation, many more details will emerge.

If these Palestinians were involved, they were probably only procurers, the people who provided weapons or materials. They probably knew nothing about the target, the plan or, for that matter, the team. The person dealing with these Palestinians would be so far removed from the team of eleven that there is no way to connect them. Operations like this are compartmentalized - you are told what you need to know and only what you need to know, not as television action dramas would have us believe, the whereabouts of others or their schedules, certainly not their names.

If the Israelis really are the perpetrators of this assassination, Mabhouh was probably given a truth serum and then executed with a drug that mimics a heart attack. Both drugs are hard to detect and the longer it takes to discover and autopsy the body, the harder and harder it becomes to find traces. He was probably not tortured, that takes too long and makes too much noise and would alert authorities in an luxury hotel.

We may never know the details. But Hamas knows that their operation has been compromised, that one of their best is now dead. That's enough.

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4 June 2017 12:13 PM in Columns

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