Without even batting an eyelash, we are now at Dubai 3.0 because the number of suspects in the murder or assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh of Hamas has a bit more than doubled, and their travel around the world both before the assassination and after has been found out, and the cause of death has been revised and is much more sophisticated than was previously thought. And now, as of this morning’s news, I’ve made the update a range of 3.0 to 3.5. No end in sight because I’m sure this last bit of news will cause more news by the end of the day and into tomorrow, all by itself. I will add it at the end, to keep things in somewhat chronological order.
The plot of the Dubai Assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh just keeps on getting bigger, more interesting, and more messy all the time. The victim was a complex man, and there may be more possible perpetrators than the Dubai police are saying. It seems that every day more information is provided. No doubt the Mossad and Meir Dagan had some reasons and the ability to carry out the assassination, but Mahmoud al-Mabhouh had other enemies as well. For the time being, however, It is most often postulated that the Mossad carried out the hit.
It is surprising how much information there is about the murder. Depending on the news source, it is called a murder or an assassination. The Dubai hotel had a full complement of CCTV cameras, and to date there are any number of videos, posted on news sites as well as on YouTube, that show the suspects looking like anything but spies and assassins. [Of course, would most of us know a spy or an assassin if we saw one?] Dubai appears to have a very able police investigation department. They have spent many hours putting together the event over days and weeks. The planet is quite small really, and technology has made it smaller. Once the investigators determined that there were numerous suspects for the murder, they gathered the television evidence, pieced that with the passport evidence, and kept on going from there.
There are numerous news organizations following this story as it unfolds, and in some cases there are some surprising sources of information. Dubai Assassination Was Work of Mossad and Likely Sanctioned by Prime Minister Says Former Intel Officer is one such report, with analysis by a former Mossad spy. Interesting stuff.
The elaborate assassination of a Hamas official last month in Dubai has all the earmarks of a Mossad operation and was likely sanctioned by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, says a former case officer in the Israeli intelligence service.
Victor Ostrovsky, who wrote a controversial book about his four years with the Mossad in the 1980s, says that many of the details in the surveillance video of an alleged 11-person assassination team indicate that the operation was likely rushed, and that the use of aliases belonging to Israeli citizens is a common tactic of the Mossad, though generally not for assassination plots.
Ostrovsky said, however, that it was highly unusual to use the name of an Israeli for a kill operation such as this one. Instead, such passports might be used for an undercover Israeli operative in the United Kingdom posing as a businessman traveling to Syria for a week or so for business.
“It’s not supposed to be used in operations like this. It’s not a throwaway. It’s not something you put at risk,” he said. “Having used it this way shows that whoever did it was really in a rush.”
Ostrovsky says he worked for the Mossad between 1982 and 1986. He spent two and a half years in training, after which he worked as a case officer out of Israel. His job was to enter surrounding countries, such as Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and Jordan to recruit local spies for the Mossad. Although he was never involved in assassination operations, he says he knows how they were conducted, and the Dubai operation matches Mossad tactics.
The Israeli government has acknowledged Ostrovsky’s work for the Mossad and tried to halt publication of his book By Way of Deception.
That particular ex-spy says he thinks the job was rushed, that more operatives means less preparation.
A former Mossad agent, Rami Igra, also dismissed its involvement due to the assassins’ failure to disable CCTV cameras at key moments and their use of passports belonging to foreign nationals living in Israel.
"It was so stupid, it couldn’t be Israel," he said. "You don’t go over the speed limit in a place where there are going to be cameras, because you are going to be photographed."
"The whole thing shows that whoever did it was very unprofessional."
Another, an ex-CIA spy, comes to quite a different conclusion, and if he is correct, the operation of Mossad in Dubai is in trouble with the very public release of the names and photos of the many and growing number of suspects in the al-Mabhouh assassination.
Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who is now a senior fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, says Wednesday’s revelations did not change his opinion that Israel was behind the assassination in Dubai.
"This most likely was a Mossad operation. All the signatures – European passports, the way the team moved quickly to leave the country – cumulatively paint a pretty convincing case," he told the BBC News website.
Mr Riedel says it would have been highly unusual for the hit squad to have visited Dubai using the stolen identities last year just for reconnaissance, as the police claim, and that this may have been an attempt to eliminate the Hamas leader that had failed.
He also doubted that all of the suspects had been in the Gulf just for one mission.
"What the Dubai authorities are uncovering now is not just the assassination team, but probably the entire Mossad station," he explains. "Dubai would be a perfect place to carry out not just a one-off operation, but a long-term one against Iran."
Mr Riedel says Israel will not necessarily mind the adverse coverage, however, as it sends a clear message to militants that Mossad can target them wherever they are.
Intelligence agencies will simply find something to counter every technological advance, as they have in the past, he adds.
"The game of espionage is not about to go out of business because of CCTV."
A third comes in somewhere in the middle.
A retired officer for Mossad’s covert-operations division, who writes under the pseudonym Michael Ross, agrees that there may have been more than one operation in motion in Dubai.
"If this is a Mossad operation, this is an unprecedented number of combatants deployed for an operation of any kind," he told the BBC News website.
"Given the relatively scant operational manpower resources available to Mossad, the general rule of thumb has always been, ‘never send two when one is enough and never send three when two is enough’."
Mr Ross says the use of a mix of cloned, manufactured and authentic passports by the assassins "do not follow any document protocols that I recall". The use of credit cards from a US bank is also "very odd", he says, given the co-operation between Israel and the US.
"It would be disingenuous to say Israel wasn’t involved in some fashion, but I think there are more aspects and international players involved in this case than are visible to the naked eye," he adds.
Just over the last few days, the Dubai police have raised the number of suspects up to 26 or 27 and published that information. At this link, the BBC has published their photos, the names on their passports, and the nationalities of the passports.
The nations from which the passport identities were stolen have been especially aggressive in condemning the use of live citizens’ identities for the passports.
I can’t say I was surprised to learn that Two Dubai murder suspects entered the US
At least two of the 26 suspects sought by Dubai police for the alleged killing of a top Hamas leader appear to have entered the U.S. shortly after his death, according to people familiar with the situation.
Records shared between international investigators show that one of the suspects entered the U.S. on Feb. 14, carrying a British passport, according to a person familiar with the situation. The other suspect, carrying an Irish passport, entered the U.S. on Jan. 21, according to this person. Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s body was found in a Dubai hotel room on Jan. 20.
There aren’t records of either man leaving the U.S., though investigators can’t be sure the two are still in the country, according to this person. Since the two were traveling with what investigators believe to be fraudulently issued passports, they may have traveled back out of the U.S. with different, bogus travel documents.
The suspected U.S. travel broadens to American shores the international manhunt triggered by Dubai’s investigation into the death of Mr. Mabhouh. Dubai police have already identified two U.S. financial companies they believe issued and distributed several credit cards used by 14 of the suspects in the alleged killing.
As foreign citizens, the two suspects would have been photographed and fingerprinted on arrival in the United States, and could therefore presumably be tracked. But in light of the identity theft practiced in the case, it seems possible that the men could have left the United States under false travel documents.
The most current development is the release of the cause of death. The cause has been revised from earlier reports.
Forensic tests on the body of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, the assassinated founder of the Qassam Brigades and a former high-ranking Hamas official, revealed traces of the drug succinylcholine, a muscle relaxant, that had apparently been injected into Mabhouh’s thigh, according to Dubai authorities.
The new information on Mabhouh’s killing was released today in a statement by deputy Dubai police chief Maj. Gen. Khamis Mattar al-Mazeina, who also said that Mabhouh had been suffocated by a pillow "so that it would seem that his death was natural."
I’m not sure what the repercussions will be to Dubai’s decision to deny any Israeli into UAE and Dubai. I’m sure we would be hard-pressed to guess the ending, or when, or if.
Dubai’s police chief Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim said that in future, the UAE would "deny entry to anyone suspected of having Israeli citizenship".
"Earlier, Israeli dual citizens could easily enter the country even if officials recognised them as Israelis from their accents and traits. But from now on they will be carefully scrutinised, regardless of what passport they hold," he said.
"We will not allow those who hold Israeli passports into the UAE no matter what other passport they have," he added.
Speaking at a security conference on Monday Lt Gen Tamim said, "Israel must not carry out its assassinations on our land. When it has a conflict with another country, Israel should deal with it on their land or the other country’s but not here on our land."
"It is disgraceful how the killers abused European and other passports and UAE soil to assassinate", he added.
I understand the sentiment, and tend to agree with them, but I question the solution to the problem, its effectiveness, or its accurateness. However, being that the USA TSA seems to routinely profile travelers coming from a foreign country as well as those traveling within the USA, it seems quite a bit disingenuous for any US citizen to say that what UAE/Dubai is doing is wrong. Keep in mind that I am still conflicted over just how innocent or guilty any one of us USA citizens is with respect to the *official* or *covert* or *overt* actions of the USA Government, that is elected by us citizens.