Roger L. Simon

Will anyone ever solve the Dubai whodunit? (UPDATED)

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

The assassination of Mahmoud al-Mahbouh in Dubai on January 19 is beginning to move off our computer screens. According to the latest AP report, European countries are pulling back from the investigation:

Michael Boyle, a lecturer in strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, said European countries were “unlikely or unwilling to make it a serious political issue with Israel. It’s going to raise up embarrassing questions and complicate their relationship with Israel,” he said.

Boyle said the focus on forged passports made sense, however. “I think there’s a concern on the part of European governments that if this process of Israeli operatives using European passports were to continue, that would put European citizens at risk.”

Not to mention that almost all intelligence agencies use phony passports. Everyone knows that. Still, some countries are pursuing this issue – the UK, via a new Ynet report, and Australia (I wonder what John Howard would think). Caroline Glick seems to have this dance about right:

It reportedly took the intervention of the highest echelons of Europe’s intelligence agencies to get their hysterical politicians and diplomats to stop blaming and threatening Israel. After being dressed down, on Monday, the chastened EU foreign ministers abstained from mentioning Israel by name in their joint condemnation of the alleged use of European passports by the alleged operatives who allegedly killed the terrorist Mabhouh.

And lucky they held their tongues. Because on Tuesday, Tamim claimed that after the hit, at least two of the alleged members of the alleged assassination team departed Dubai for Iran. It’s hard to imagine Mossad officers feeling safer in Iran than in Dubai at any time and certainly it is hard to see why they would flee to Iran after killing an Iranian-sponsored terrorist.

In the second graph Caroline is indeed reporting the most tittilating recent news – except the possibly bogus report that the Dubai authorities have DNA evidence on one suspect.

What indeed were the alleged Mossad assassins doing escaping to Iran?

The Dubai police statement issued Wednesday included a striking detail: two of the new suspects, identified as Nicole Sandra McCabe and Adam Marcus Korman and carrying Australian passports, left Dubai on a ship bound for Iran. All the others traveled by plane to European and Asian countries, according to the statement. The statement included no further information about the two suspects or why they would have gone to Iran.

And were they actually Mossad assassins? Some think not. I prefer to think they were, perhaps because that would be much more disturbing for the mullahs. It would open up all kinds of interesting questions. (What information were these agents carrying? Where were they headed?) In fact, one way of reading this event is that a lot of it was deliberately in plain sight. This is in essence the subtext of the Debka account, which contains the supposition that the Israelis were fully aware of the CCTV capability in Dubai and essentially acted out in front of the cameras. Of course, this is an extremely complex approach to intelligence work, the kind of thing you might find more in a novel than in real life, so I don’t know. But it’s possible.

To be continued – or not.

Okay, continued (you knew it would be!) with this quick UPDATE: The estimable Jeffrey Goldberg writes at The Atlantic: How Many Passports Do Hamas Men Need – reminding us of the nefarious (to put it mildly) activities of the late Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. But outdoing Goldberg, who is a terrific writer I read religiously, is, in this case, Sima Kadmon at Ynet. This was published all of thirteen hours ago, but somehow I missed it:

Almost a month has passed since the assassination of Hamas man Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, and soon we shall find out that only three Israelis were not connected to this operation, and only because they happened to be sick with the swine flu at the time.

However, the criticism expressed here is not directed at the people who carried out the operation, but rather, at the journalists and commentators who cover it. At junctions where there is no information or leaks and where reality is much greater than fiction, every commentator is king.

So let’s admit it: We have no idea how it works; we have no idea what was planned, who carried it out, and what exactly took place in Dubai. We have no idea why the photos of the operatives were exposed and what it means.

Kadmon goes on to say this of Mossad chief George Smiley, excuse me, Meir Dagan:

A great injustice had been done here mostly to Mossad Director Meir Dagan, said the man, who is also just another commentator. If everything Dagan did will be released for publication in 100 years, he said, everyone will have to rise from their graves, go over to Dagan’s grave, and ask for his forgiveness.

So that’s my latest word, Scott.