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.)
The information grabbing intent also accounts for the multiple agents with varied expertise – from photography to “exotic” drugs. It may also account for the differing initial reports of the cause of death, which range from electrocution to suffocation. The time of death, always difficult to ascertain, is also in question. How long were the agents with al-Mabhouh and did they get what they wanted? Was his death untimely or – and here’s a wild speculation – is he dead at all? Do we have DNA of the body? Nothing so far from the Dubai police. All we know is this, again from Gulf News:
Dubai police has denied that it had intended to bury the body of Mahmoud Al Mabhouh, a Hamas leader in Dubai. The police also added in a press release that they held the body of the deceased for one week to finish the investigation procedures, and then handed it over to Al Mabhouh’s son who came to the UAE after the death of his father.
Habeas corpus anyone?
As of Feb 19, no photos of al-Mahbouh’s corpse in any form turn up on Google images. Perhaps there are videos, but none that identify the body in anything near a definitive way. Yes, I know this is strange, but it is remotely possible that al-Mahbouh was kidnapped. Dubai is, after all, a port, providing a means for escape. The Dubai police are promising that we will know all soon, but they have been promising that for a while now.
Meanwhile, there are false-flags on false-flags. The once revered Mossad chief Meir Dagan is under attack in Israel. How could he have been so sloppy as to allow his agents to be videoed by hotel security cameras or to have used the passports of “normal” Israelis as cover? But perhaps all that was deliberate and the agents videoed were disguised and the “normal” Israelis part of the plot themselves. Then what? Not even John le Carré in his prime could have designed a plot so intricate. Dagan is George Smiley in the flesh.