Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Death in Dubai

The most fascinating news story to me so far this year that I’ve been following intently is that of the assassination of Hamas figure Mahmud al-Mabhuh in Dubai in late January. Police officials in Dubai have provided names and photos of those they believe were involved, and the pool of suspects now includes nearly 30 people.

The more I learned about this killing, the more I became convinced that the Israeli government was not responsible.

First, it appears that the team was sloppy. Suspects are caught on surveillance video immediately before and after disguising themselves and are easily identifiable. Almost all of their movements were captured on surveillance video; some of the suspects are even caught looking right at surveillance cameras. Some of the forged passports used by the suspects do not bear the required numbers of letters or numbers in their serial numbers; governments like Israel have regular access to foreign documents in order to detect fraud, and getting the specs on a real Irish or French passport would be easy for a security-conscious country like Israel.

I don’t think that if the Mossad had pulled this off, that they would have done so using the forged identities of actual Israeli citizens. These European immigrants to Israel are now in fear for their lives since their names are connected to this killing, and to put them in that kind of danger undermines the whole mission of the Mossad, which is to make the world safer for Jews.

Also, Israel does a lot of business with Dubai, and pulling off an operation like this in Dubai puts that at risk. Why risk all that when there are better locations to kill this guy. Large teams of Israeli agents are regularly able to penetrate the West Bank and Gaza, why go through the trouble of sending a bit hit team to Dubai, where they know there are video cameras everywhere.

Anther development that points away from the Israeli government: Dubai officials said they detained two Palestinians in connection with the killing. Those Palestinians are apparently connected to Fatah, the PLO faction that rules the West Bank and is kind of a civil war with Hamas. It would certainly be in the PLO’s interest to take out a Hamas rival while pointing the finger at Israel.

The biggest question for me is this then: who are the people on this hit squad, if not Israeli agents? They certainly copied Israeli tactics and did everything to point the finger at Israel, but they were not Palestinians. They are Caucasians who can pass for European travelers. Is this some kind of Blackwater-type company that hires itself out to state sponsors of assassination? And if so, are they hiring?

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