Join 3,424 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Anatomy of a murder
February 16, 2010 5:13 AM   Subscribe

On January 19th, 2010, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was murdered in Dubai. A senior Hamas military commander, al-Mabhouh was reportedly in the city to arrange a shipment of arms to Gaza. While Dubai is no stranger to nefarious dealings and political assassinations, this one has an added layer of intrigue: arrested Palestinians and 11 mysterious agents traveling on a hotchpotch of European passports.

British sources, apparently, claim that this has all the hallmarks of Mossad. It certainly has form in both political assassinations and using other countries' passports. Two Palestinians have also been arrested in connection with the murder, raising the possibility of Fatah involvement. But perhaps the most interesting feature of the assassination is that much of the preparation has been meticulously captured on video. Welcome to political assassination in an age of scanned photos, CCTV and biometrics.
posted by MuffinMan (75 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Which one of them gets to be played by Tom Cruise in the inevitable movie?
posted by epimorph at 5:40 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Knowing the little I know about Mossad, I have this weird feeling we're reading about a false flag operation.

Am I just reading too far into it?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 5:48 AM on February 16, 2010


Who else would be motivated enough to take out a Hamas guy? I don't think any rival Palestinian operation has a hit team of 11 European-looking folks.
posted by Mid at 5:50 AM on February 16, 2010


That video is fascinating. I'm imaging that if you overlay some audio (lots of background noise with the occasional well-mic'd feature player whispering something cryptic or absurd to a co-conspirator), then it would look a lot like a Robert Altman version of Munich.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:56 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm impressed they are supposed to have created a fake german Reisepass. looking at mine right now it seems a really terribly difficult piece to copy. (I've seen other passports like the US one, which seem still fairly elaborately protected but the german one really is a piece of work.)
posted by krautland at 5:57 AM on February 16, 2010


ugh. I'm imagining...
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:59 AM on February 16, 2010


Bathtub Bobsled : No you are not reading too much into it. This has all the signs of being a false flag operation. As someone who spent 3 years studying intelligence services as part of my degree this has the hallmarks of mossad. That said, they are not known for making mistakes (Lillehammer affair and a few others not withstanding) and a few elements of this are seemingly amateur. Leaving fingerprints (though this isnt to say false prints were not used) and apparently two helpers have been detained also. The audacity of doing this in a hotel with so many cameras also suggests either they felt the target was a good enough scalp or adequate preperation was not undertaken.

In terms of the passports this story highlights the ground work involved in putting together a false flag operation.
posted by numberstation at 6:02 AM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


The one with the blond wig is a man :-)
posted by SatansCabanaboy at 6:10 AM on February 16, 2010


hodgepodge.
posted by kitchenrat at 6:12 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hotchpotch.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:16 AM on February 16, 2010


I'm impressed they are supposed to have created a fake german Reisepass. looking at mine right now it seems a really terribly difficult piece to copy. (I've seen other passports like the US one, which seem still fairly elaborately protected but the german one really is a piece of work.)

Aren't all European passports pretty much the same?
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 6:20 AM on February 16, 2010


tomato
posted by kitchenrat at 6:25 AM on February 16, 2010


Tomato hotchpotch.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:29 AM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Good post, MuffinMan
posted by shothotbot at 6:43 AM on February 16, 2010


For a moment I read that as Muhammad Abdul Alhazred.
posted by clarknova at 7:48 AM on February 16, 2010


I'm impressed they are supposed to have created a fake german Reisepass. looking at mine right now it seems a really terribly difficult piece to copy. (I've seen other passports like the US one, which seem still fairly elaborately protected but the german one really is a piece of work.)

I recently read a book about the secret war between Israel and Iran (and its proxies), written by an intelligence correspondent from one of the Israeli newspapers. In it, whilst talking about Iranian assassinations of dissidents in Europe, he mentioned that Mossad could always count on the (West) German intelligence agency's cooperation, largely due to Holocaust guilt. Perhaps that would extend to providing Mossad with Reisepass blanks?
posted by acb at 7:52 AM on February 16, 2010


Me too!
posted by Flashman at 7:52 AM on February 16, 2010


Ok help a brother out here...what is a False Flag Operation?
posted by spicynuts at 8:51 AM on February 16, 2010


I'm not a believer in capital punishment, but won't be shedding a tear for this one; he is just the proof of "He who lives by the sword dies by the sword". On good days, anyway.
posted by Bovine Love at 8:55 AM on February 16, 2010


False flag operations
posted by mosk at 9:04 AM on February 16, 2010


what is a False Flag Operation?

False flag operation. It's when you cover your tracks by making it appear that someone else was responsible for your actions. This is done to both protect you and implicate them.
posted by quin at 9:05 AM on February 16, 2010


It's when you cover your tracks by making it appear that someone else was responsible for your actions. This is done to both protect you and implicate them.

Not quite.

It is when you do something one would expect the enemy to do, in hopes of gaining either public sentiment or a strategic advantage.

Example... You and your buddy are drinking heavily, and both of you like the same girl. You wait until he passes out, then you send a text message to the girl saying "i lurve you, we should totally do stuf nekked..."

He looks like a jerk, even though he didn't do anything.

That's False Flag.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 9:26 AM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I must add... you sent the text message from his cell phone, not yours.

Shit.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 9:27 AM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


In the video, they mentioned that when the hotel staff finally entered the victim's room, it was locked and chained from the inside. How did the execution teams pull that off?
posted by Alt F4 at 9:42 AM on February 16, 2010


I wondered that. Adjoining balcony, perhaps?
posted by MuffinMan at 9:43 AM on February 16, 2010


That video footage is pretty amazing. 2 'executions teams' of 2 people plus 7 people on rotating surveillance. It's a pretty big logistical operation to find and kill one guy. Especially with the international aspect to it all. And yeah, like Alt F4, I do wonder how they locked and chained the door from the inside.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:48 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not a believer in capital punishment, but won't be shedding a tear for this one...

You're not creeped out by the obvious professionalism and likely involvement of a wealthy democratically elected state? These kinds of incidents are appalling and all too common from the likes of the US, France, and Israel. And they have nothing to do with "national security".
posted by stepheno at 10:04 AM on February 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


"i lurve you, we should totally do stuf nekked..."

Now I know why nobody talks to me any more.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:16 AM on February 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


The obvious suspects are the Israelis; the Mossad have carried out such operations before (both successfully and unsuccessfully). But what if it's somebody else? Someone who doesn't like Hamas but also doesn't like the Israelis and doesn't mind them being blamed for it.

What are Iranian relations with Hamas like these days? The Iranians have a history of carrying out assassinations abroad (mostly in the 1980s).
posted by acb at 10:20 AM on February 16, 2010


You're not creeped out by the obvious professionalism and likely involvement of a wealthy democratically elected state? These kinds of incidents are appalling and all too common from the likes of the US, France, and Israel. And they have nothing to do with "national security".

Actually, I am kinda creeped out, to be honest. And, fundamentally, it goes against my values; his death was not incidental, was not in an 'incident' or the like, it wasn't even while he was trying to escape, per se. Well, that one is a little more fuzzy, but in the strict sense, he was not trying to escape. It is, in my mind, damn hard to accept the state sanctioned cold killing of an individual.

But, on the other hand, it is damn hard to watch these a-holes go about their business largely untouched. Sure, they have to hide some, but really not much. They kill and bomb and seem untouchable.

So, it is a battle between the part of me that demands process, controls, and humanity and the part of me that want to see the scum come to justice; if they won't go along with the system and buy the farm, so be it. To be honest, it is a darker side I don't care for, but I suspect an awful lot of us have it.

I guess most disturbing is the kind of people who carried it out. I wonder, are they believers, or just sociopathic, or what. Are they any different then what they killed? Maybe not. Which certainly does leave us in a bit of an uncomfortable spot, I'll admit.

Still, at the end of the day, lacking an afterlife (which I don't believe in), I'm glad to see him gone. Even if it isn't what I believe in. We can only be hypocrisy-free by believing in nothing.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:43 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


This man was a franc-tireur. Hamas, a non-state entity, is in a self-declared state of "war" with Israel and itself employs terrorist bombings and other illegal tactics in its execution of this "war." As a franc-tireur this man falls into one of the few categories that enjoy no protections under the Geneva Convention and other earlier conventions covering the status of persons in war. He was killed while attempting to purchase weapons to further Hamas' activities.

I think he should have been protected by the universal right to due process enshrined within the ICCPR. I also think that violating the UAE's sovereignty was a bad idea. But I know that Israel's main motivation is in protecting the lives of Israelis, and in this case the willingness of this man to murder Israeli citizens and his participation in those murders in the past is incontrovertible. My very strong preference is that he be captured and tried in a court of law, but I'm not going to pretend that I don't understand Israel's priorities on this one.
posted by 1adam12 at 11:27 AM on February 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


They have the same optometrist, evidently. Menachem Begin's.
posted by Xoebe at 11:37 AM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I'm not a believer in capital punishment, but won't be shedding a tear for this one..."

You're not creeped out by the obvious professionalism and likely involvement of a wealthy democratically elected state? These kinds of incidents are appalling and all too common from the likes of the US, France, and Israel. And they have nothing to do with "national security".


"A senior Hamas military commander, al-Mabhouh was reportedly in the city to arrange a shipment of arms to Gaza."
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:53 AM on February 16, 2010


Quick question. Now we pretty much know that the hit squad - most likely Mossad - killed this guy. But how do we know that he was in Dubai to buy weapons?
posted by jake1 at 12:45 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bovine Love: 'I guess most disturbing is the kind of people who carried it out. I wonder, are they believers, or just sociopathic, or what. Are they any different then what they killed? Maybe not. Which certainly does leave us in a bit of an uncomfortable spot, I'll admit.'

Interesting question but do you wonder about anyone in the armed forces? Are they sociopathic? Does it make a difference to you if the killing is in a hotel or on a battlefield? What about unmanned drones flying over a sovereign territory such as Pakistan and piloted by a USAF member sitting 7500 miles away? My graduate disseration was entitled 'State Sanctioned Assasination: It's uses and abuses' and so it is always interesting to read different takes on it all.

Anyway none of this is anything new. Political assasination has been documented since the 8th Century and state sanctioned assasination since the formation of States. And for the record stepheno it is not just US, Israel and France who carry out such activity.

And for anyone interested here is a transcription of the CIAs take on assasination way back in '54.

'The essential point of assassination is the death of the subject. A human being may be killed in many ways but sureness is often overlooked by those who may be emotionally unstrung by the seriousness of this act they intend to commit. The specific technique employed will depend upon a large number of variables, but should be constant in one point: Death must be absolutely certain'

On justification: 'Assassination of persons responsible for atrocities or reprisals may be regarded as just punishment. Killing a political leader whose burgeoning career is a clear and present danger to the cause of freedom may be held necessary...' Persons who are morally squeamish should not attempt it.'

As for techniques take your pick -> 1.Manual 2.Accidents 3.Drugs 4.Edge Weapons 5.Blunt Weapons 6.Firearms 7.Exposives

And here it the bit to really get you thinking and was written about 'accidents'

'For secret assassination, either simple or chase, the contrived accident is the most effective technique. When successfully executed, it causes little excitement and is only casually investigated.' Raises the intruiging question of how common this really is.
posted by numberstation at 1:45 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the video, they mentioned that when the hotel staff finally entered the victim's room, it was locked and chained from the inside. How did the execution teams pull that off?

Most high-end hotels don't use chains anymore -- latches like this one are more durable, less noisy and better looking. Moreover, the latch can't easily block the door from closing, like a chain can.

So, now you have two locks -- an electronic lock and a latch.

* The electronic lock can be triggered from the outside, by whatever soooper-secret digital thievery mechanism that unlocked it. Some of these have deadbolts built into them, though. I'm still betting this is just faulty reporting -- most hotel doors just lock automatically when you close them, so I can see where someone would go, "ZOMG they're like magic!"

* The latch could either be a mistaken report (likely), an adjoining room (unlikely), an adjoining balcony (very unlikely) ... or a powerful magnet that "grabs" the latch from the other side of the door. That would be the most James Bond of the solutions, and also very unlikely, as the latches are usually non-magnetic aluminum or brass.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:07 PM on February 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Crime != National Security threat. Maybe if we're talking nukes or bio-weapons.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:19 PM on February 16, 2010


I just very cleverly double-posted this (I swear I looked carefully, honest) but never mind. I found this just fascinating, and watching the tape was an exercise in drama-- did anyone else jump a little bit when the two tennis racket-carrying surveillance guys got on the elevator with their "target"?
posted by jokeefe at 2:30 PM on February 16, 2010


Some developments on the passports used by the alleged assassins: the Irish ones are fake, and the British ones are probably as well, but some of the names correspond to the names of foreign nationals living in Israel (whose photos, however, don't match the passports).

So either when Mossad need a typical name for a X national, they consult the records of foreign residents in Israel, or someone's trying to make this look like that's what happened.
posted by acb at 2:52 PM on February 16, 2010


In the video, they mentioned that when the hotel staff finally entered the victim's room, it was locked and chained from the inside. How did the execution teams pull that off?

It could have just been that the rooms (like in many hotels) were set up for suites so you have double locking doors inside the rooms that lead to the adjoining room.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:54 PM on February 16, 2010


Thinking about the video afterwards made me realise something incidental which also chilled me: you do not want to be the hotel clerk who served these people or the tourist who accidentally bumped into one of these guys at the airport. You know that everyone on these tapes that had any interaction with any of the suspects went through hours of intense background checks and probably some less than polite interrogations. I just hope I never accidentally end up on a similar tape.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:58 PM on February 16, 2010


Another interesting thought. Some the articles say that Mossad's involvement is unlikely, because of the "lack of professionalism." That the assassins were caught on security cam.

Does it really matter? Maybe Mossad just doesn't give two shits whether you think they did it or not? The assassins get a pat on the back, some new hair, a new sparkling clean identity, and then they get shuttled off to other intelligence jobs. So long as their paperwork is done right, what does it serve you to have their picture? This is a one-time job for these people.

In fact, you having their picture makes them more mysterious and threatening. Look how easy it was! They're coming for you. They don't care that you know they're coming. Go ahead, take their picture -- they're still coming for you.

If Mossad plays its cards right, they could pull back all of their field agents for a spell and let you think they're still out there. Or they let you think they're running for the hills. You're off balance. You'll make different kinds of mistakes.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:19 PM on February 16, 2010


But, on the other hand, it is damn hard to watch these a-holes go about their business largely untouched. Sure, they have to hide some, but really not much. They kill and bomb and seem untouchable.

Wait, are we talking about Mossad or Hamas?

The always excellent Abu Dhabi based newspaper, The National, has a detailed timeline of the assassination. I can't seem to find it online, but the paper edition also said that contrary to earlier reports, no fingerprints were left.
posted by atrazine at 9:35 PM on February 16, 2010


For various reasons, I find this whole thing totally amazing.

1) I did not know it was so hard to kill someone! Eleven people (and some reports say up to seventeen) to off a single person??

2) I did not know that intelligence agencies were so casual about doing things like this on camera. I mean, somebody above says that the assassins will just get new hair colors and IDs and be off to their next job, but is it really so easy?? Their faces are now all over the internet. Somebody is bound to recognize one of them from the grocery store/college/pub down the street/apartment upstairs/etc. (And OMG, imagine how freaked out that person is going to be.)

3) It's strange to me that so many of the news reports are saying that Gail Folliard is the one in the floppy hat. If the surveillance video (which I found horribly fascinating) is laid out chronologically, then there were two women involved in this -- Gail in the dark hair outside the elevators on the victim's floor, and the woman in the floppy hat in the lobby, playing lookout.

4) I'd like to know if foreign governments are turning over the surveillance videos from the airports they scattered to afterward (Paris, Frankfurt, etc.).
posted by artemisia at 12:07 AM on February 17, 2010


Some other updates:

As expected, this is likely to cause some blowback between whichever intelligence service is seen to have sanctioned the killing and Britain and Ireland. An interesting theme in this is how much British and particularly US intelligence may have known about it beforehand. On the British side, we'll find out as the diplomatic representations get made.

It's worth noting that after the Mordechai Vanunu affair, Margaret Thatcher shut down Mossad's operations in London, apparently - even though the abduction actually took place in Italy.

The other interesting nugget lies in this article by Gordon Thomas, author of Gideon's Spies. It says that the Kidon (assassination team) in Mossad is only about 48 people. If true, that means that - assuming it was Mossad - Israel has sacrificed the cover of one quarter of its team for this one job. Granted, the nature of the team means that turnover is desirable, but that's a lot of investment. With the diplomatic blowback, cost and impact on the team, it means Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was really seen as public enemy No.1.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:35 AM on February 17, 2010


And another question: who is the man with the digitized face?

Which brings me onto another point - how much support are the Dubai police getting from ex-Western intelligence agency security contractors?
posted by MuffinMan at 1:13 AM on February 17, 2010


The man with the blurred face probably is an "innocent bystander". Though they did a really bad job of doing it, as you can see him in the reflection of the elevator.

Does no one at the Dubai Police Force watch CSI? A reflective surface gets you every time.
posted by gagoumot at 8:49 AM on February 17, 2010


They key's in the passports they used.

Although they were real passports, whoever did this knew that the people on them would have never travelled to Dubai (Tel Aviv - Dubai isn't exactly frequently serviced by Emirates), thus Dubai would not keep a copy of the passport page on their systems to compare pictures. (If you ever wonder what border officials do when they scan your passport, it's comparing it to a filed picture they have of you from a previous time you travelled). The system would also not react, as the passport data was all, for lack of a better word, kosher.

My money's on Mossad.
posted by dearsina at 11:28 AM on February 17, 2010


I want to know how they knew what to look for. Security camera video is excessively boring.

And what's the point of releasing the video? To show the killers that they can be tracked? For the killers to show they can get you?
posted by lysdexic at 11:45 AM on February 17, 2010


This is nothing like The Bourne Identity. So banal. The most chilling part for me was watching the casual conversation of the assassins as they waited for the elevator after the job was done.
posted by mecran01 at 9:02 PM on February 17, 2010


What I find most insightful is the frumpiness of each of the assassins ... they're all so forgettable and ordinary looking ... so unlike all the debonair 007s and Matt Bourne Damon, and therefore effective.
posted by Azaadistani at 10:06 PM on February 17, 2010


It's just wierd that the victim, who was such a high up Hamas commander and knew he was on a Mossad "death list", didn't have ANY security of his own.
posted by PenDevil at 10:22 PM on February 17, 2010


Maybe that's why the hit team was so large - they were prepared to encounter bodyguards.

Maybe the Hamas guy thought he was less likely to be spotted without an entourage. Remember, he does not know that someone has given up his location, so maybe he's more worried about getting marked by spies on the ground in Dubai. That is more likely to happen with security.

The one thing that makes me question whether it was Mossad is that, apparently, the hit team stole the identities of Israelis actually living in Israel. That's pretty risky from a political standpoint -- you have your own citizens pissed off at your spy service. That invites government inquiries and all sorts of stuff that spy services would want to avoid, I would think.

But, then again, who is better positioned to steal Israeli identities?

Totally baseless speculation: maybe it was not a totally "official" state spy service action--maybe it was some faction or rogue group, maybe retired spooks or contractors? That might explain the "sloppiness" of stealing the Israeli identities and also might explain why the group seems unconcerned about cameras -- they don't plan on doing future jobs, this was special one-time thing.
posted by Mid at 5:06 AM on February 18, 2010


Passports are easy to come by when you are Mossad, you speak to the nice Jewish boy at the passport control centre and arrange them that way. Why bother forging the things when you can have a genuine one with genuine stamps? Intelligence agencies are surprisingly lazy a lot of the time.

There may also be a little quid-pro-quo with other international agencies but whilst most agencies will retain a "forgery" department it really is just ten times easier to beg, borrow, steal or coerce. Biometric passports will only make this more likely as time goes by.
posted by longbaugh at 6:32 AM on February 18, 2010


numberstation, could be that my rhetoric meter is broken, but I think your questions are not meant to be rhetorical. Plus it is an interesting topic, particularly relevant in this context.

numberstation: Interesting question but do you wonder about anyone in the armed forces?

In this context, I am more concerned about actions, not membership. I do imagine we emply some pretty bad people, though. On purpose.

Are they sociopathic?

Some of them, certainly. Of course, executive ranks in companies have their share of sociopaths, too. That alone is not damning; I was just wondering what sort of people they were, and why they do what they do. I don't very people as just resources or tools or weapons; I think it matters why they do what they do, especially for things deep in the gray zone.

Does it make a difference to you if the killing is in a hotel or on a battlefield?

Yes. Only a very simplistic moral code would not draw a difference. Assuming one is not a total pacifist and can condone the death of others under limited circumstance, clearly the circumstances are quite relevant. Your two items are bit apples and oranges though; a hotel is a place, but a battlefield is really a situation, not a place. Is the hotel a battlefield is the relevant question, I think. Those who condone assassination (outside of the formal military context) often will state the the person (typically labelled terrorist) has expanded to the battlefield to everywhere, and therefor the assassination is on the battlefield. I think that is also a bit simplistic, not to mention self-serving. But, if we are willing to sacrifice some of our 'goodness' for the end-goal, and want to construct rules to carefully govern it, the question is certainly interesting, both from a moral justification point of view and a pragmatic keeping-it-under-control point of view.

What about unmanned drones flying over a sovereign territory such as Pakistan and piloted by a USAF member sitting 7500 miles away?

A very interesting one I've not decided yet. I'm assuming that you are not talking about arbitrary territory, but more in line with what has been happening. I think sovereign is a matter of law and international diplomacy and not a moral issue. But going back to the batlleground issue; if bombing on the battlefield is ok (just for the sake of discussion, otherwise the discussion is largely moot...), then in a situation like Afganistan (and its neighbors), where are the lines? It would, honestly, be hard to see this situation as much different then the assassination (or murder as Dubai likes to put it, carefully not giving too much political clout to the victim, nor valid political reason to the murderer).

It is a subtle, nuanced area. Your questions are treating it a bit thinly; I think most here understand the nuance extends well beyond simple battlefield deaths. Of course, we do have some hard-core pacifists here, and I do respect that too. And we have a few who seem to be kill em all and let god sort them out types; I am a little less sympathetic to that hardened view.
posted by Bovine Love at 9:54 AM on February 18, 2010


A very interesting one I've not decided yet. I'm assuming that you are not talking about arbitrary territory, but more in line with what has been happening.
So you mean when the United States bombs the sovereign territory of a ally with whom a state of war does not exist? On the say-so of the President? What we are doing in Pakistan right now is super sketchy. It might be the right thing to do, and I might do the same thing but it seems illegal on its face.
posted by shothotbot at 10:58 AM on February 18, 2010


Stop the conspiracy theory, guys, This cannot be the Mossad, Avigor lieberman said so.
A sketchy plan with too many variables and too many people involved (fake passports from Ireland, the U.K. AND Germany?!?) No 'agency' can pull this off. Someone would blow the secret one day or the other... Totally Unpossible.

My guess: probably a double false flag operation orchestrated by some saudis in a pakistani cave...
posted by CitoyenK at 11:36 AM on February 18, 2010


It's sounding more & more likely that it was a Kidon team: UK Relations with Israel “in the Deep Freeze” over Dubai Assassination.
posted by scalefree at 8:01 PM on February 18, 2010


Former Mossad Katsa Victor Ostrovsky agrees, says the operation was probably rushed.
posted by scalefree at 8:46 PM on February 19, 2010


Insight from Juan Cole: As rightwing policies more visibly fail, the Likudniks are flailing around making fools of themselves by smearing critics of those policies as racists.
posted by adamvasco at 9:39 AM on February 20, 2010


Dubai killing awakes ghosts of assassinations past
posted by homunculus at 12:24 PM on February 20, 2010


Israeli immigration officials copied British passports used by hit squad, ministers told
posted by homunculus at 1:59 PM on February 21, 2010


Guardian Middle East Editor Ian Black had an interesting article last Friday: The truth about the Mossad
The recent, outlandish assassination in Dubai may prove the most damaging yet in the Mossad's history of high-profile, bungled operations. How did it squander its reputation for ruthless brilliance?
posted by adamvasco at 5:31 AM on February 23, 2010


Update: six more British passports identified, and at least one Australian passport used in the Dubai operation.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:50 AM on February 25, 2010


Follow the money. The Associated Press says Dubai police tied MetaBank to another american company Payoneer Inc., which provides prepaid mastercards issued by Metabank and other lenders. Mr Zeevi the CEO of Payoneer is linked to the Israel Venture Association; Etc. Etc. ....idle speculation.
posted by adamvasco at 1:59 AM on February 25, 2010


Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad by Gordon Thomas looks like an interesting history of the Mossad - has anyone read it?
posted by shothotbot at 7:12 AM on February 25, 2010


I have. It is an interesting read, not least because Thomas seems to have got pretty good access to some of its spooks.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:33 PM on February 25, 2010


So now they are up to something like 20 "agents" following this guy around. Why on earth so many people?
posted by Mid at 7:20 PM on February 25, 2010


Specialization, shifts, coverage, backup, cleanup, coordination. Mossad's model is not the lone sniper of TV & movie fame but a large team of specialists each focused on one aspect of the attack scenario. You have drivers, physical & electronic surveillance, exotic weapons, hackers, disguise, equipment managers, logistics, cleaners, oversight.
posted by scalefree at 8:56 AM on February 26, 2010


War in Context on The Dubai-Payoneer connection.
As Clayton Swisher notes : It's not clear if the FBI is silently participating or if its officials are fence-sitting.
If it's the latter, then they may want to consider the following: if a foreign national was murdered on US soil with the help of credit cards issued in the Emirates, what sort of co-operation would they demand?

posted by adamvasco at 9:35 AM on February 26, 2010


There is an article in the WSJ today (paywall, I think) by Bob Baer, former CIA operative, who says that a 25 person team is the minimum required to pull off a "controlled" assassination -- i.e., one without a wild shootout or other chaos.

He says: "The truth is that Mr. Mabhouh's assassination was conducted acording to the book -- a military operation in which the environment is completely controlled by the assassins. At least 25 people are needed to carry off something like this. You need 'eyes on' the target 24 hours a day to ensure that when the time comes he is alone. You need coverage of the police -- assassinations go very wrong when the police stumble into the middle of one. You need coverage of the hotel security staff, the maids, the outside of the hotel. You even need people in back-up accomodations in the event the team needs a place to hide."

Pretty good article, if anyone feels like buying the Weekend Journal.
posted by Mid at 7:36 AM on February 27, 2010


Looks like you can read it for free: A Perfectly Framed Assassination
posted by homunculus at 8:35 AM on February 27, 2010


Some of the questions raised in the last week: 5 Mysteries About Mossad.
posted by adamvasco at 10:21 AM on February 27, 2010


How Many Jews Work for Mossad? British journalist Douglas Murray and The New Republic's Marty Peretz pick up on a BBC interview with Gordon Thomas, writer of a book on Mossad. He estimated that between 0.5 and 1 million Jews work for Mossad or are "on call," potentially to help with assassinations.

On the face of it this sounds outrageous until you learn Mossad's operational model. Unlike the CIA which has hundreds or thousands of case officers, field technicians & support personnel all on the payroll & working in the field, Mossad employs a very small number of case officers, on the order of 50, & maintains a large database of sympathetic Jews throughout the world who can be called on to perform specific low-risk tasks in their line of work in support of the case officer's mission. If you worked at a hotel front desk you could be asked to give him a room for a few hours & keep it off the books. Someone who works at a car rental agency would lend out a car. You could go years without hearing from your Control contact; Mossad distributes the load so as to minimize the risk to each assistant.

Former Mossad case officer Victor Ostrovsky goes intio great detail about how this system of "little helpers" or sayyanim works in his book "By Way of Deception". It allows an agent to move easily throughout foreign territory with a minimal formal support structure & lets him have a much lower profile than is possible for undercover Western intelligence officers.
posted by scalefree at 10:31 PM on February 27, 2010


From The Economist this weekend:
WITH a lot less exposure in the world’s press than it got for its recent Dubai operation, Israel has quietly suffered a string of setbacks in Lebanon, a front-line state with which it has often been at war. Lebanon’s security service says that since November 2008 it has broken up no fewer than 25 Israeli spy rings. The reported arrest this month of a colonel in Lebanese army intelligence, identified solely by the initials GS, brings the number of those charged to 70-plus; 40 of them are in Lebanese police custody.
Article.
posted by shothotbot at 5:59 AM on February 28, 2010


« Older There’s a new ally in the fight against sexually t...  |  Weird Al makes up interviews w... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments