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Assassination in Dubai
The blurred trail of mideast power politics?
Yehonathan Tommer (tommery06)     Print Article 
Published 2010-03-10 00:58 (KST)   
Evidence linking the Israeli Mossad to the assassination of former Hamas chief military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai over a month ago grows more knotted and murky as the days go by.

What seemed at first like a clean-cut operation reminiscent of earlier assassinations attributed to the Israeli espionage agency has, like Alice in a macabre Wonderland, unraveled in the absence of indisputable facts into an obscure tale of the absurd bordering on fantasy, stupidity or genius.

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The number of suspected agents which Dubai's police commissioner now claims were implicated in the assassination has grown from 15 to 26, and could grow even bigger. This is an unusually large cell for such a complex operation and untypical of Mossad operations; by its very size, it would have jeopardized its internal communication and secrecy, say Israeli commentators.

Surveillance cameras had been widely installed in the Bustan Rotunda hotel where Mabhouh was slain. And there is little to connect the suspected persons photographed in the hotel with complicity in the assassination. Most of them anyway would have been under certain heavy disguise. Dubai's police chief Lt. Gen Dhahi Khalfan Tamimi speedily recovered footage of the suspects and may have been assisted by the American or British company which installed the monitoring equipment, Arab news agencies reported that many of suspects are connected to credit card details indicating that they were issued by the same bank in the United States. Yet Dubai police investigators may be groping in the dark. Dubai has become a hub for terrorist organizations and information released from the investigations may have been issued for Dubai's own propaganda.

The extensive use of forged passports of the identities of living people citizens of Germany, Britain, Ireland, France and Australia is also odd. The names of at least ten Israelis possessing dual citizenship and residents in Israel are identical with the names of the suspects whose photos Dubai authorities released.

Though there is no correlation between the real-life names and bearers of the forged identities, innocent people have become implicated in the assassination and this is a worrisome infringement of their civil rights and personal safety.

The governments are publicly angry by the fraudulent issue of the passports. They were especially irate as Israel in the past acknowledged and apologized for Mossad agents caught red-handed forging or attempting to forge Canadian, Australian and New Zealand passports. These transgressions soured relations and led to the recall of Israeli ambassadors; and in New Zealand's case, to the temporary closure of the Israeli embassy in Wellington for about two years. Israel pledged on these occasions to refrain from further passport forgery.

Israel's ambassadors were summoned in the respective capitals this week to explain the forgeries. But along with Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who told journalists in Brussels that they were influenced by too many James Bond films, the Ambassadors told the Foreign Ministers that Israel had no hand in the matter.

Israeli officials believe that the diplomatic fallout may soon blow over. French President Nicholas Sarkozy censured the assassination as unacceptable, but no Western European government condemned the slaying or threatened to take punitive action against Israel, if evidence conclusively indicated Mossad's responsibility. This too may indicate that European governments may have had foreknowledge of the planned killing.

Washington's sphinx-like silence is significant, as is the astonishing silence from moderate Arab governments, especially in Amman and Cairo, where Mabhouh was also a wanted man. Both Egypt and Jordan see Hamas fundamentalism, terror and arms smuggling as a domestic and regional threat to their country's stability.

No one has shed a tear at Mabhouh's death. Gazan-born Mabhouh was a senior Hamas military commander and founder of the Izz a-Dinn al-Qassam Brigades; he was responsible for the abduction and murder of two young Israeli soldiers and planning a long line of terrorist and suicide bomber attacks in 2001-2 killing dozens of Israeli civilians.

This ties in with another equally baffling question of the role played by two Palestinians: Ahmad Hasnin, a West Bank Fatah intelligence and Anwar Shekhaiber, a Palestinian Authority employee in Ramallah. Both are suspected of monitoring Mabhouh's movements in Dubai. More significantly what is the possible involvement in the assassination by the Palestinian Authority and Arab intelligence agencies?

Also, if Mossad agents planned and executed the assassination why should two of their agents, reportedly, left Dubai by boat for Iran when Hamas is that country's client in confrontation with Israel? It doesn't make sense. Unless this is also part of the disinformation aimed at blurring the escape trail and highlighting the underlying regional play of Cold War power politics in the assassination motivating moderate Arab and Western governments to contain Iran and its proxies.

Israeli analysts are already drawing preliminary lessons. As long as the Mossad cannot be tied to the assassination, Mabhouh's death is seen as a remarkable success contributing to Israel's regional deterrence against terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. Unless proven otherwise, any suspected Israeli involvement will be forgiven.

But worried critics are already calling for the appointment of a new Mossad chief. They warn that traditional espionage methods are unreliable and that the abuse of forged passports endangers the lives of the people whose identities have been stolen. The modern cyber environment demands more precise thought be given to counteracting exposure to electronic surveillance and monitoring equipment when planning, executing and exiting any arena of operations.

©2010 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Yehonathan Tommer

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