Perhaps it’s because I am thinking, after all these years, of writing another thriller, but I have been obsessed with what happened last month in Dubai, although it was only revealed to the public earlier this week. As I’m sure most readers are aware, it was in a luxe hotel in that Arab emirate that leading Hamas military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was apparently murdered on January 19, allegedly by the Mossad. If this occurred as reported, it was a “false-flag” operation with (supposedly) eleven Israeli agents entering Dubai under the passports of various nations (Britain, France, etc.). Those countries are currently stamping their feet about the affair, at least for public and media consumption, although their own intelligence agencies regularly practice the same thing. Several of those passports were, interestingly, dual Israeli-foreign, but more of that in a moment.
I am now going to speculate about what may have happened with the following caveats: 1. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and this could have been just an ordinary, if overly elaborate, hit. 2. When I wrote my detective series, I did so from a position of absolutely no expertise whatsoever (in other words, total amateurism). So “I don’t know nothin’.”
The first notable clue is those “eleven” agents. Why send eleven for an assassination when two or three would do? Why not just knock the Hamas man off with a bombing or cell phone some place? It would be far less risky. And the Israelis clearly had remarkably precise advanced knowledge of al-Mabhouh’s itinerary. The Hamas leader had only left Damascus that morning, supposedly, according to some reports, en route to China via Dubai. And yet the Mossad had a minimum of eleven people in place, waiting for him. No wonder Hamas was so shocked that, when they learned of his “murder” on January 19, they immediately announced terminal cancer had over taken their leader. Hamas itself must have had something closer to a heart attack. To have this much warning of al-Mabhouh’s itinerary, the Israelis must have permeated them pretty thoroughly. The embarrassment alone, not to mention the internal finger-pointing and suspicion, must have been extreme. (From the Gulf News of Feb 19: An additional suspect arrested in Syria is believed to be a senior Hamas fighter.)
Nevertheless, the Israelis still must have had some motive for employing so many agents for a hit. After checking into a blacked out room at the Al Bustan Rotana hotel that day, al-Mabhouh went missing for four hours – and this may provide some clues. A meeting with an Iranian official has been reported and denied, also some Palestinian group. In any case, he was doing something and there was information to be gleaned from this man, most probably key information regarding Hamas and its allies (Iran, Syria, etc.) that certainly accounts in part for the elaborate assassination. In a world rapidly becoming nuclear one can only speculate what that information is, but we can be sure it’s not particularly appetizing. It’s also worth considering what al -Mabhouh wanted to obtain from the Chinese. The Mossad was out for al-Mabhouh’s knowledge even more than the revenge that is commonly reported. (al-Mabhouh was responsible for the killing of two Israeli soldiers, but that was years ago and the Hamas leader has been in Israeli custody since and released.)