By Andrei Fedyashin
The scandal over the death of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas military commander murdered in his hotel room in Dubai, has not subsided, contrary to the expectations of many people around the world.
Before February 19 the number of suspects was 11; now it has grown to 26. The Dubai police said another 15 people are suspected of complicity in the murder and forwarded their names to Interpol on February 25.
Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai’s police chief, announced on February 18: “Our investigations reveal that Mossad is involved in the murder of al-Mabhouh … It is 99% if not 100% that Mossad is standing behind the murder.”
He said that when they are 100% sure, they will issue an international warrant for the arrest of Israeli Mossad chief Meir Dagan.
Nearly all of the suspects, who “borrowed” passports for the entry to Dubai, have dual nationality, and 12 of them have both British and Israeli passports. The other suspects have passports issued by foreign ministries of Ireland, France, Australia and Germany. The hit group used American credit cards and had air tickets from Paris, Rome, Frankfurt and Zurich to Dubai bought in Austria and Belgium. After the murder, they slipped away to Hong Kong, Iran and other countries, in fact vanishing into thin air.
All of these passports actually belong to people who live in or have been to Israel. Israeli ambassadors in London, Dublin, Canberra and Paris and Israeli representatives at the EU have been summoned to these countries’ foreign ministries for explanations.
The diplomats who have been working to settle the Middle East conflict, Iran’s nuclear problem, and the Afghan and Iraqi problems say that the timing of the assassination was the worst imaginable. The current Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu is extremely right-wing. It was particularly difficult to draw the Arab leaders into talks with him and expect them to agree on compromises on the Middle Eastern or Iranian problems. Al-Mabhouh’s murder has further complicated the situation.
After killing him in the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel on January 19 (the details became public knowledge only in mid-February), the assassins fled, leaving a host of traces such as security video tapes in the hotel and the airport, witnesses, receipts, tickets and credit card details. There are enough traces to determine the culprits; in fact, they are so abundant that it seems the assassins either did not care or actually wanted the police to know who killed al-Mabhouh.
Such operations are usually conducted to show to potential victims that nobody can escape punishment anywhere.
Back in the mid-1980s, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher ordered that the Mossad office in London be closed because Israeli agents were openly preparing assassinations of Palestinian exiles in London.
Mossad often used Canadian, Swiss, Norwegian and French passports, but these documents usually belonged to deceased persons. This time the assassins carried the passports of living nationals of EU countries and Australia.
None of the intelligence services likes the questions raised by the Dubai incident, because nearly all of them have a history of “executive actions,” a professional term used to refer to assassination operations.
But why did the assassins act so crudely in Dubai? Why did they use the passports of living citizens of Israel, Britain, France, Germany and Ireland? It appears that the names (which have since been made public by newspapers) were obtained from the computer system of the Israeli immigration service.
In the past, agents often used as a cover quite peaceful professions of journalists, scientists or employees of charity organizations. This often resulted in the loss of lives of innocent people of these professions. Many intelligence services no longer use this method, or claim to have stopped using it.
After the “executive action” in Dubai, the Arab security services will see an Israeli agent in every European. The hit squad acted unwisely, without considering the consequences of their plan. Or did they know exactly what they were doing?
Mossad was conceived in 1948 and set up in December 1949. Yitzhak Shamir, who was Israeli Prime Minister from 1983 to 1984 and then from 1986 to 1992, worked for Mossad in 1955-1965.
The critics of the Israeli intelligence service claim that it started leaning towards political assassinations under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who appointed Meir Dagan Mossad chief in 2002 and allegedly ordered him to run the Israeli spy agency “with a knife between its teeth.”
According to The Times, talk of Dagan’s unwillingness to share power with others surfaced early in his tenure. In June 2009, when his term as Mossad chief was extended by one year by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one of his seconds in command promptly quit.
Some Israelis argue that Meir Dagan should resign his position over the loud public scandal surrounding the Dubai assassination, but others are proud. At the same time, they warn that other deaths should be expected, this time in Israel. This is always the case in the Middle East.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti, where this article first appeared.