Mossad and the Dubai hit squad

Monday 22nd February 2010
Dubai Hit Squad.jpg

The drama over hit squads and identity theft has brought to light the ‘Bond-like’ activity of Mossad – Israel’s secret service and intelligence agency.

Mossad (the Hebrew word for ‘institution’) have a reputation as being the world’s best due to their ruthless efficiency, commanding both fear and respect from their enemies.

Mossad

Mossad began in 1938 as a Jewish group campaigning for Israel’s creation in Palestine. They used ships to transport Jewish immigrants to Palestine from Europe, often exceeding British immigration quotas.

After Israel was formed in 1948, Mossad became the country’s intelligence agency.

Now it has departments for:

• espionage (information gathering)

• foreign intelligence cooperation

• special operations (assassinations, paramilitary operations, target destruction)

• psychological warfare (propaganda, deception)

• the production of research (intelligence) and technology (tools)

Mossad also does back-room negotiations with governments Israel has no official relations with.

The Dubai hit squad

The international row that’s brought Mossad into the limelight is the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh on January 19. He was a senior commander and founder of the military unit of Hamas – the main political party and government of the Palestinians.

He was also a suspect in the murder of two Israeli soldiers in 1989 – a confession of which was aired on TV earlier this month.

According to reports, he was visiting Dubai to finalise an arms deal with Iran on behalf of Hamas (such business is easier in Dubai for legal and banking reasons).

The whole thing was caught on CCTV (and now available on YouTube). As he arrived at the airport and checked into his hotel, members of the hit squad were following him.

Two individuals dressed in tennis gear followed him into the lift and down the hallway to identify his room number – 230. They then booked room number 237.

Later that day, four others broke into al-Mabhouh’s room and killed him – supposedly by electric shock and then strangulation. By the time al-Mabhouh’s body was discovered in his hotel room 24 hours later, the assassins had fled the country.

There are two theories of who was behind the killing. The first claims Mossad did it to stop the arms deal and avenge the soldiers’ murder.

The second is that it was a mixed job between Mossad and Fatah – Hamas’ rival Palestinian political party. Police are suspecting an inside job that tipped off Mossad.

The theory is that Fatah would want to weaken Hamas and strengthen their relationship with the Israelis as the Palestinian political party of choice.

Dubai’s police chief said he is 99%, if not, 100%, sure that the assassins were members of Mossad. If it’s proven, he has called for the head of Mossad, Meir Dagan, to be arrested.

What’s causing more concern in Europe though is that members of the hit squad were all travelling on false European passports. Foreign ministers of Ireland, France, Britain and Germany have all demanded answers and an apology from Israel.

Incidentally, Israel was caught in the 1980s for using false British passports and had promised not do it again. In 2004, New Zealand caught and imprisoned two Mossad agents for attempting to steal their passports.

However, the row about passports and identity theft is merely a distraction from the key issue – are these assassinations even legal?

Extrajudicial killings

Mossad assassinates people it deems a threat to Israel by getting approval from the Israeli government.

Such killings are considered by many to be illegal (extrajudicial killings) because they’re often while a person is sleeping, sitting, or in a car, rather than in the heat of battle, and thereby posing no immediate threat.

However, Israel says they’re at war with the Palestinians so such acts are lawful and prevent future attacks. Israel’s High Court ruled in 2006 that the killings were allowed under international law.

However, this event took place in Dubai against Dubai law and without local permission. If it could be proven Mossad was responsible, they could be brought to trial in a Dubai court.

Mossad maintain an ‘ambiguity’ policy of neither confirming nor denying responsibility. They are doing the same here, although with considerable embarrassment. The passport debacle may make things difficult for them now that the public has started to question the killings.

Experts believe Mossad simply did not expect the Dubai police to do such a thorough investigation. And it seems the Dubai police are determined to make arrests – a rare outcome following Mossad assassinations.

In saying that, one Israeli expert believes the whole thing is “a storm in a teacup” and will blow over in a matter of weeks.

Nevertheless, the activities of Mossad have been exposed to a degree they would not prefer. What this means for the organisation remains to be seen. But in all likelihood, it will just be a minor setback for the world’s best secret service.

By The Casual Truth

Photo – Passport photos of the alleged hit squad

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