People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIV

No. 14

April 04, 2010

Dubai Assassination: Mossad Strikes Again

 

Yohannan Chemarapally

 

THE murder of a Hamas functionary, Mahmoud al-Mabbouh in a hotel in Dubai on January 20 has once again brought Israel’s disregard for international laws into the limelight. Mabbouh was one of the founders of the military wing of the Hamas. Though the Israeli government has not formally taken responsibility for the killing of the Hamas commander, officials in Dubai have provided irrefutable proof that the murder was the handiwork of the notorious Mossad---Israel’s external intelligence service.

The Dubai authorities have issued warrants for “pre-meditated murders” and have asked Interpol for help in nabbing the suspects whose pictures have been released to the international media. Dubai has extradition treaties with the countries on whose passports the Mossad assassins had entered the emirate. The UAE is among the so called moderate Arab countries that have good informal relations with Israel. In fact, an official Israeli delegation was in Dubai a week before the assassination of Mabbouh.

Evidence gathered by the Dubai police has conclusively shown that at least 26 persons, including five women, were involved in the killing of the Hamas functionary. Most of those involved in the murder used passports issued by European Union (EU) countries like the UK, France, Germany and Ireland. When this fact came to light the EU was forced to ask for an explanation from its close ally, Israel. In late February, the Dubai authorities discovered that three Australian passports were also used in the Mossad operation. The Australian Prime minister, Kevin Rudd, said that his country “would not be silent on the matter” and “will not leave a single stone unturned” to get to the bottom of the issue.

The Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, while not directly admitting Mossad’s role, said that the country’s policy of “ambiguity” in such cases is “correct”. Britain’s Sunday Times quoting unnamed sources reported that the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu authorised the mission and had met with the hit squad shortly before they undertook their mission. The former Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni had no such qualms. She praised the Mossad for a job well done in Dubai. Livni was recently forced to cancel a visit to London after a British court issued an arrest warrant for allegedly committing war crimes during the Israeli attack on Gaza. 

Even within Israel, questions are being asked about Mossad and the government’s tendency to ride roughshod over international law. The killing in Dubai took place at time when there is a growing demand in the international community for Israel to be taken to the war crimes tribunal for the massacre of civilians in Gaza during “Operation Cast Lead”. There have been demands in Israel that the long serving Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, step down after the faces of the assassination squad and the passports used were shown on international television. The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz commented after the Dubai incident: “Determined to take our fate into its own hands, Israel has decided that the job of delegitimising the Jewish state must not be left to foreigners and amateurs. Showing itself desperate to be a pariah state, Israel will now get it done on its own”.

The Europeans are also demanding an explanation for the identity thefts involved in the use of EU passports. Britain’s Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has asked for a “full investigation” into the use of fraudulent British passports by the killer squad. In the mid-eighties, the government of Margaret Thatcher had got an undertaking from the Israeli government that the Mossad would not use forged British passports for its covert activities. The move came after a bagful of forged British passports were inadvertently left behind by a Mossad agent. On March 22, the British authorities, for the first time, expelled a senior Israeli diplomat posted in London. David Milliband, the British foreign secretary, said that there were “compelling reasons” for the move. The Israelis, he said, showed scant regard for Britain’s “sovereignty”.

In 2005, New Zealand had jailed two Israeli secret service agents for obtaining the country’s passports illegally. There are many who believe that Mossad could only have counterfeited EU passports with help from western intelligence agencies. Hamas, along with Hezbollah despite having a popular electoral mandate are still classified as terrorist entities by most governments in the West. The “intense security cooperation” between Israel and European governments is also well known. Articles in the Israeli media point out that the European governments who claim to be agitated about the misuse of their passports are secretly happy about the elimination of the Hamas leader.

Nadim Shehadi, an associate fellow of Chatham House in London said that the European governments want the issue “to die quietly”. The Israeli establishment is also highlighting the fact that Arab governments like Jordan and Egypt are also engaged in a secret war against Hamas. The fraudulent credit cards used by the Mossad team were issued in the United States. There is no news yet about the American authorities cooperating with the Dubai authorities or Interpol in the investigations surrounding the killing of Mabbouh.

This is not the first time that the current Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu has been involved in a Mossad misadventure. In an earlier stint as prime minister, he had authorised a hit on the Hamas leader in exile, Khalid Meshal in the Jordanian capital, Amman in 1997. The two man Mossad hit squad, using forged Canadian passports had succeeded in injecting Meshal with deadly poison. It was the direct intervention of the late King Hussein of Jordan that saved Meshal from certain death. The monarch threatened to cut diplomatic links with Tel Aviv if an antidote for the poison was not immediately despatched.

To stave off diplomatic and political disaster, Netanyahu had no other option but to comply with Jordanian demands. As part of the deal, the Israeli prime minister had also to release the spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheikh Mohammed Yasin, from an Israeli jail. Netanyahu had also to publicly acknowledge Israel’s role in the assassination attempt to get his agents safely back. Mossad’s ham handed actions made Meshal an internationally known figure. It also made a serious dent into the infallible image of Mossad, much of it the creation of the western media and Holywood films.  

Many innocent people have been killed in Mossad operations abroad. A Moroccan waiter Ahmad Bouchai was killed in front of his pregnant wife in Norway in 1973. He was mistaken for Ali Hassan Solameh, a leader of the Palestinian group “Black September” that had claimed responsibility for the killing of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. The Mossad agents involved in the killing were carrying fake Norwegian passports. They were arrested but were released after serving a few months in prison.

Their next high profile killing was that of the PLO military chief, Khalil Al Wazir, popularly known as “Abu Jihad” in Tunis in 1988. He was the second in command to Yasser Arafat in the PLO. 30 Israeli agents took part in the operation. 70 bullets were pumped into the Palestinian leader in front of his wife and children. If he were alive today, Abu Jihad would have been the leader of the Palestinian Authority. Other important Palestinian leaders killed by the Mossad were the Hamas leaders, Yahya Ayyash in the Gaza Strip in 1996 and Izz Eldine Sheikh Khalil in Damascus in 2004. Again in Damascus, the Mossad scored a high profile hit when the Hezbollah leader, Imad Mughniyeh was blown up in his car in 2008.    

Within the occupied territories, Israel of course carries out targeted killings of Palestinian leaders it does not want to do business with. Many Palestinians believe that their leader, Yasser Arafat, was poisoned by Mossad. Arafat’s personal physician had said that “poisoning is a strong possibility”. The use of poison that cannot be easily detected is one of the Mossad’s specialities. Lethal nerve toxin which soaks through the skin was blown into the ear of Khalid Meshal, the Hamas leader, by Mossad agents. The poison was successfully used before to eliminate many functionaries of the Palestinian resistance.