Daily Israel Report

Media Consensus: Mossad Killed al-Mabhouh

Opinions on terrorist al-Mabhouh's murder in a Dubai luxury hotel room are still front page news. International media consensus is: Mossad did it.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 3/9/2010, 4:08 PM / Last Update: 3/9/2010, 7:36 PM

 

While Dubai police continue to search for the killers of Hamas weapons buyer Mabhouh al-Mabhouh, the media continue to feature the story and consensus has credited Israel's international security agency, the Mossad, with the hit.

Al-Mabhouh was the terrorist responsible for ensuring that Iranian weapons shipments arrived safely in Gaza, until he was assassinated in his 5 star Dubai hotel room on January 19. He was also one of the founders of the Izz a-Din al-Qassam military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization, and was responsible for the murder of two IDF soldiers in 1989.

Dubai police claimed that within 24 hours they had information leading to suspects, but it actually took more than a week for them to publicize the murder and about a month before they were able to conclusively state that he had been suffocated after being injected with a medical muscle relaxant, succinylcholine, which causes “immediate and temporary paralysis.”  They received high praise from the media for their expertise, but have also been asked if they spent the time before going public planning the story line they would use in order to minimize damage to their hotels' security reputations. No one asked how a terrorist murderer like al-Mabhouh could be a welcome personage in Dubai.

Forbes columnist Claudia Rosett argued that, given Dubai's proudly demonstrated surveillance capabilities, the obvious question now is: "where's the rest of the Dubai video collection?" According to Forbes, deadly business is conducted in airports, malls and hotels there by Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hezbollah and Hamas.

A list of 27 suspects has been published by Dubai police, all of whom used passports that bore doctored photographs overlaid on stolen identities of Israeli dual citizens from other countries. None have been caught. The governments of the aforementioned countries have since expressed their outrage and disapproval to the Israeli ambassadors in their respective capitals.

'Totally awesome'
Despite some evidence that other governments, including those of Arab nations, may have done the deed, and the fact that Israeli passports are noted to be in demand in terrorist and criminal circles, most media are still pointing the finger at Israel, some writers noted with pride.

Columnist Marc Tracy, writing in Tablet Magazine, even went so far as to term the accomplishment “totally awesome,” gleefully explaining in detail exactly how the operation was carried out.

Intelligence veteran Menachem Landau, meanwhile, also noted that whoever carried out the operation knew exactly what they were doing: clearly the agents were aware of the security cameras monitoring their moves. Landau, who served for 32 years in Israel's domestic intelligence agency, the Israel Security Agency (ISA/Shin Bet) was careful to emphasize that he does not know who carried out the operation. “Ambiguity is power,” he told Arutz Sheva's Hebrew news magazine. “It undoubtedly raises the level of deterrence... It was a very nice success.” Landau reached a military rank in the ISA comparable to major-general.

The British Daily Mail newspaper reported last month that the Mossad had informed Britain's MI6 intelligence agency that it was carrying out an overseas operation using British passports. “It wasn't a request for permission, but rather a courtesy call,” said the British security source quoted by the paper. The report added the Mossad did not share details of its operation with its British counterparts. The report was not confirmed.

Hamas man suspected
Also last month, Syria reportedly arrested a senior Hamas terrorist who was said to be a close confidante of al-Mabhouh, and who was suspected of being involved in his assassination. Muhammad Nasser was familiar with al-Mabhouh's schedule and itinerary, and had aided the weapons buyer in the murder he perpetrated of IDF soldiers Avi Sasportas and Ilan Sa'adon in 1989.

But, wrote Tracy, “To believe that it was not the Mossad, you must believe that some country or entity other than Israel had: a motive to assassinate al-Mabhouh strong enough to trump fears of being implicated (while also knowing it was so valuable to the rest of the world that diplomatic consequences would be minimal); the information on which dual British-Israeli citizens carry British passports; the manpower and money to orchestrate an extensive, months-long, complex operation; and the training and expertise to stalk and stake out al-Mabhouh, kill him so that his death could not be confirmed for almost 24 hours and his murder could not be confirmed for over a week, and managed not to have a single agent, out of as many as 26, be apprehended,” he wrote. “Could Egypt's spies pull it off this well? Could the CIA, for that matter?” He did not suggest that rival terrorist groups might want to eliminate al-Mabhouh and arrange to implicate Israel

Although the countries whose passports were used in the hit are demanding answers, the Mossad has neither confirmed nor denied any connection with the Dubai operation.