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What's a little identity theft between friends?!
March 23, 2010 8:37 PM   Subscribe

"To go to bed a citizen and wake up as a wanted terrorist is shocking." The British Government has strongly denounced the Israeli government's use of 12 forged British passports linked to the recent assassination in Dubai as a "hazard for the safety of British nationals in the region". The government has announced that they are expelling an Israeli diplomat -- the first such expulsion in twenty years. New biometric passports will be issued, and the government has issued a travel advisory for Israel, warning citizens "We recommend that you only hand your passport over to third parties including Israeli officials when absolutely necessary." Possibly forged Irish, French, Australian, and a German passport were also used for the assassination, according to investigators.
posted by markkraft (83 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
What's hilarious is how Israel publicly regrets Britain's actions, like this is somehow the fault of the UK.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:39 PM on March 23, 2010 [20 favorites]


Has Israel admitted responsibility for that assassination? I thought there were strong indications that it was someone else, such as a rival Hamas group, had arranged it. While Israeli operatives have been known to borrow identities from other countries in the past, doing it for so many countries at the same time, and so openly, seems like it would be unnecessarily hostile diplomatically.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:43 PM on March 23, 2010


Word is that two of the assassins escaped to Iran. Is that really something that Israelis would do?

The way it went down doesn't feel like a Mossad operation. They're usually a lot more slick.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:48 PM on March 23, 2010


Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...you can't get fooled again.
posted by mullingitover at 8:48 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Israel has not admitted responsibility, but if you actually watch the video, you will notice that the forged passports had one thing in common -- they were all previously handed over for inspection to individuals linked to Israel, either in Israel or in other countries. They found no connections to any other country.

Also, the British have determined that the quality of the counterfeits strongly suggest the involvement of a foreign intelligence agency.
posted by markkraft at 8:53 PM on March 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


Word is that two of the assassins escaped to Iran.

Citation needed.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:53 PM on March 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Has Israel admitted responsibility for that assassination?

No. Doesn't mean they weren't. In addition, to the British saying that the passports used in the assassination were forged in Israel, the report out of Dubai presented quite a bit of additional circumstantial evidence -- enough to convince many Israelis that Mossad was behind the assassination.
posted by zarq at 8:57 PM on March 23, 2010


The way it went down doesn't feel like a Mossad operation.

Disagree. This screams Mossad, right down to the "it's obvious it was us, FUCK YOU" attitude.
posted by eriko at 8:59 PM on March 23, 2010 [20 favorites]


Worth noting that Mossad's intelligence operations are legendary and have acquired a near mythic status to many Israelis and non-Israelis alike. The more complicated and "impossible" any successful operation might be, the more likely it is that people will assume Mossad had something to do with it, even without evidence.
posted by zarq at 9:00 PM on March 23, 2010


The way it went down doesn't feel like a Mossad operation. They're usually a lot more slick.

haha i love that everyone on the internet is an expert on the operations of foreign intelligence services
posted by p3on at 9:05 PM on March 23, 2010 [50 favorites]


Also, the British have determined that the quality of the counterfeits strongly suggest the involvement of a foreign intelligence agency.

Does that assessment mean anything? Sincerely. From a PR/propaganda standpoint, it's certainly in their best interest to portray successful forgeries as extremely hard to make or obtain. 'Only an intelligence agency would have the resources! Blah, blah, blah.'

Evidence suggests otherwise, of course.
posted by zarq at 9:05 PM on March 23, 2010


I don't have all the information needed to make a solid judgement but it seems there are two options.

Israel (more specifically, Mossad) overstepped a boundary, regarded by many other countries as unacceptable, in order to achieve a goal related to Israel's national security. It did so without appropriate concern for international reaction should things go wrong.

Or.

The UK expelled an Israeli diplomat without having any meaningful evidence that Israel had done anything wrong.

One of those is very plausible; the other is not.
posted by GeckoDundee at 9:05 PM on March 23, 2010 [11 favorites]


Badass.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:08 PM on March 23, 2010


haha i love that everyone on the internet is an expert on the operations of foreign intelligence services

I actually am a spy. (Hamburger. Or is it?)
posted by sallybrown at 9:08 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


TV ad for Israeli supermarket spoofs video of Dubai assassination team

Stay classy, Israeli ad agency.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:09 PM on March 23, 2010


Oh boy! Sleep! That's where I'm a viking wanted terrorist!
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:10 PM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


This incident is horrible but pretty fascinating - Bob Baer has lost his cred with some but has an interesting POV: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704479404575087621440351704.html
posted by specialk420 at 9:13 PM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Realistically, it comes down to this...

Either:
A> All the British citizens -- and presumably Australian, French, and Irish ones as well -- who had their passports duplicated and identities stolen were wrong when they said that they all turned their passports over to representatives of Israel.

or

B> All of these people who had their identity stolen were working for Hamas or some other enemy of Israel.

So... should we bomb first, ask questions later?!
posted by markkraft at 9:14 PM on March 23, 2010


Zarq, I love you, but the words "evidence" and "daily mail" should never, ever, appear in the same sentence. Ever. Especially not through the magic of hyperlink.

Regarding Israeli denials: Please. Only China and North Korea rival Israel for brazen denials in the face of overwhelming evidence. They still deny possessing nukes, ffs.
posted by smoke at 9:17 PM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


One of those is very plausible; the other is not.

Exactly. Playing the PNG card is huge, you don't throw that trump unless you need to, and the UK is famous for looking the other way at diplomatic issues. The fact that they were so bothered by this speaks volumes.
posted by eriko at 9:17 PM on March 23, 2010


markkraft: "So... should we bomb first, ask questions later?!"

I am missing the reference.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:20 PM on March 23, 2010


Yeah, I'd say that on an international scale of credibilty statements from Israel rate up there with Iran and Russia.
posted by Artw at 9:22 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


So... should we bomb first, ask questions later?!

What? Would you please clarify what you mean by this comment?
posted by zarq at 9:22 PM on March 23, 2010


Here's a view on the story from Israel.
posted by escabeche at 9:23 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


This has happened before: Khaled Mashal - Assassination Attempt.
posted by Chuckles at 9:25 PM on March 23, 2010


Its freaky how other worldly the photos of the alleged assassins are as were the hideous 9/11 dudes passport pics.
posted by specialk420 at 9:28 PM on March 23, 2010


"Two of the newly named alleged assassins exited Dubai by boat to Iran, the Dubai Police said, further confounding widespread speculation that the Mossad was responsible for Mabhouh’s death."
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:30 PM on March 23, 2010


"I am missing the reference."

Standard policy
. ;-)

(This is MeFi, right? Are satire tags really needed here?!)
posted by markkraft at 9:30 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Zarq, I love you, but the words "evidence" and "daily mail" should never, ever, appear in the same sentence. Ever. Especially not through the magic of hyperlink.

Ugh. My bad: I didn't think. They're like the National Enquirer (or worse) of the UK, aren't they? I never remember that when I do google searches.

A quick (revised) google search turned up this older story from the BBC from 2006, and a report of a forgery ring that was busted in 2008. Have not really done an in-depth search to see if other stories exist on how easy or hard a UK passport is to forge yet. So to anyone reading, please take my comment above about it with a grain of salt.
posted by zarq at 9:31 PM on March 23, 2010


First they were a British territory. Then they become independent. Now they want to be British again. Make up your minds already!
posted by qvantamon at 9:31 PM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


What's hilarious is how Israel publicly regrets Britain's actions, like this is somehow the fault of the UK.

Regret is a funny word.

I regret... that you found me... in this alley... with this corpse and pistol...
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:33 PM on March 23, 2010 [22 favorites]


Two of the newly named alleged assassins exited Dubai by boat to Iran, the Dubai Police said, further confounding widespread speculation that the Mossad was responsible for Mabhouh’s death.

What if they're in an assassination world tour?
posted by qvantamon at 9:35 PM on March 23, 2010


"This has happened before: Khaled Mashal - Assassination Attempt."

I never heard of this one...

So, basically the current ruler of Israel essentially admitted to Israel's complicity in the prior assassination attempt by turning over a nerve toxin antidote that just happened to be the right one?

And they used fake Canadian passports, too. Did the Canadian government do anything about it, or did they just behave like Canadians?
posted by markkraft at 9:39 PM on March 23, 2010


Regret is a funny word.
I regret... that you found me... in this alley... with this corpse and pistol...


Or I regret pouring water over your Vice President's head, and sabotaging your plans for peace.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 9:40 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's a view on the story from Israel.

And this was in the JPost. (Adding this link to to give the right wing view, so our understanding of the positions being taken on both sides is increased -- Ha'aretz is a left-wing paper and JPost is right wing.)

The editorial points out that 11 of those names fingered in the Dubai investigation are the same as people who were "olim," which is the plural version of the Hebrew word "oleh" meaning one who makes "aliyah" or religious pilgrimage to Israel. The implication being made is that the people who gave up their passports were religious, probably Orthodox Jews, who may be more predisposed to either religious fanaticism or more willing to make a sacrifice when they think that it will benefit Israel's well-being.

Personally, I think that looks far more like a smoking gun than the UK expelling an Israeli intelligence officer.
posted by zarq at 9:45 PM on March 23, 2010


"Two of the newly named alleged assassins exited Dubai by boat to Iran, the Dubai Police said, further confounding widespread speculation that the Mossad was responsible for Mabhouh’s death."

Do you have a source slightly more impartial than the Jerusalem Post, by chance?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:48 PM on March 23, 2010


The editorial points out that 11 of those names fingered in the Dubai investigation are the same as people who were "olim," which is the plural version of the Hebrew word "oleh" meaning one who makes "aliyah" or religious pilgrimage to Israel.

That's not what those words mean. Aliyah just means a Jew who moves to Israel, even if it is a secular Jew moving to Israel for non-religious reasons. Now I have no idea if the people whose identities were stolen were Orthodox Jews, but that they were called olim doesn't lead to that conclusion, as it's a term used for all Jews.
posted by andoatnp at 9:53 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Two of the newly named alleged assassins exited Dubai by boat to Iran, the Dubai Police said, further confounding widespread speculation that the Mossad was responsible for Mabhouh’s death."

Yeah, but take a look at that article. It's from a month ago, near the beginning of the investigation... and according to Dubai's authorities, there are up to 29 suspects. Clearly, they've narrowed things down a bit since then, and know quite a bit more.

To me, this sounds likely to be an early, false lead, much like we've seen after events like the Oklahoma City bombing and many others. Suspicious foreigners leaving the area suddenly -- and coincidentally -- after a terrorist attack.

Need I remind you that not every possible suspect was likely to be involved, that 29 people weren't seen going up to the hotel room, and that investigations are still ongoing?
posted by markkraft at 9:53 PM on March 23, 2010


Standard policy. ;-)

(This is MeFi, right? Are satire tags really needed here?!)


In this case... some context was helpful. I follow Israeli / Middle East politics pretty closely. Yet I'm unfamiliar with this three-year old quote, which to be honest seems pretty freakin' obscure.
posted by zarq at 9:54 PM on March 23, 2010


Some more detail on the Mashal assassination attempt (transliterated as Mishal in this article), if anyone's interested. From a review of a book about it.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 9:58 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


JPost article linked by zarq:

It is worthy of note that the Mossad was established in 1938 as a clandestine Zionist organization to defy the immigration quota system and bring Jews to Palestine during the British Mandate.

What? That's not worthy of note unless your trying to raise emotions completely unconnected with the story. Jerusalem Post, you're officially on my Daily Mail list.
posted by Sova at 9:59 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


The attackers piled into the Hyundai, but they didn’t know their way around Amman, and were chased by Mishal’s bodyguard, who did. Eventually they jumped out of their car, but got stuck in a crowded marketplace, where Mishal’s bodyguard wrestled them into a taxi and took them to the nearest police station.

That is a motherfucking bodyguard.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:12 PM on March 23, 2010 [22 favorites]


Chocolate Pickle: "Two of the newly named alleged assassins exited Dubai by boat to Iran, the Dubai Police said, further confounding widespread speculation that the Mossad was responsible for Mabhouh’s death."

The Jerusalem Post article does say correctly that two of the assassins, both carrying Australian passports, traveled to Iran from Dubai by boat, however it neglects to mention that it was more than a year before the assassination attempt. Dubai officials have speculated that they were there on a reconnaissance mission, and it is silly to suggest that Iran had to be their final destination (Just click the to: tab). Though I don't think it is inconceivable that Mossad agents with fake Australian passports would have other business in Iran or that a successful forgery might be reused.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:24 PM on March 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Has Israel admitted responsibility for that assassination? I thought there were strong indications that it was someone else, such as a rival Hamas group, had arranged it.
What?
While Israeli operatives have been known to borrow identities from other countries in the past, doing it for so many countries at the same time, and so openly, seems like it would be unnecessarily hostile diplomatically.
It totally was!

(So was announcing new settlements while Biden was visiting.)
Its freaky how other worldly the photos of the alleged assassins
Huh? They look like your run of the mill passport/ID photos. I think you're projecting a lot onto them. If you picked any 12 people's driver's license photos, they would look about the same. Some of the pictures look a little weird due to watermarking.
posted by delmoi at 10:31 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


markkraft: And they used fake Canadian passports, too. Did the Canadian government do anything about it, or did they just behave like Canadians?

How do Canadians behave, pray tell?
posted by stinkycheese at 10:52 PM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


The UK biometric passport initiative has been around for four years now (per the BBC). I must admit I've always been suspicious of them, but I guess I didn't expect people to start cloning passports for assassins either.
posted by immlass at 10:54 PM on March 23, 2010


Has Israel admitted responsibility for that assassination? I thought there were strong indications that it was someone else, such as a rival Hamas group, had arranged it.

Israel never admits involvement in clandestine operations as a matter of policy.
There have been allegations that Fatah or elements within it tipped Mossad off about his travel plans, this is possible. That Fatah or another Palestinian Hamas rival actually ran the operation is not an allegation that I've heard.
posted by atrazine at 10:57 PM on March 23, 2010


About bloody time.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:58 PM on March 23, 2010


The editorial points out that 11 of those names fingered in the Dubai investigation are the same as people who were "olim," which is the plural version of the Hebrew word "oleh" meaning one who makes "aliyah" or religious pilgrimage to Israel. The implication being made is that the people who gave up their passports were religious, probably Orthodox Jews, who may be more predisposed to either religious fanaticism or more willing to make a sacrifice when they think that it will benefit Israel's well-being.

Olim is a term used to refer to all Jewish immigrants, Orthodox or otherwise, and has nothing to do with religion except etymologically. Also, your editorial suggests that the olim in question had their identities stolen, not that they were the assassins or willingly gave their identities to the assassins. So you're basically just making up the religious angle here.

/formerly Orthodox atheist.
posted by callmejay at 11:08 PM on March 23, 2010


I know family members of one of the people who had their identity stolen. They are utterly terrified and absolutely, completely furious with the Israeli government.

The person concerned, who did nothing wrong and only wanted to live in peace in Israel, now lives under 24 hour protection, armed security people now share his house, and has been advised that they may never leave the country in safety and that wider family members could be at risk.

I've also spoken to Israeli security experts, who say that Israel were responsible and that cloning passports is quick and simple and that the victims would know nothing about it.
posted by quarsan at 11:18 PM on March 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


haha i love that everyone on the internet is an expert on the operations of foreign intelligence services
I resent this; I'm regularly contacted by various intelligence agencies (via the devices in my fillings) for my advice on field operations.
posted by Abiezer at 11:37 PM on March 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Instituting biometric passports because of the risk that foreign spies will clone your passport and use it during a oceans 11 style assassination is an absurd overreaction.
posted by delmoi at 12:04 AM on March 24, 2010


I wonder if this helps or hinders the ridiculous identity card scheme.
posted by Artw at 12:06 AM on March 24, 2010


atrazine: There have been allegations that Fatah or elements within it tipped Mossad off about his travel plans, this is possible. That Fatah or another Palestinian Hamas rival actually ran the operation is not an allegation that I've heard.

Well, I heard it the other day. It makes sense, if it was done by rival elements of Hamas or by Fatah - they kill a guy they don't like for whatever reason and simultaneously mess up Israel's diplomatic relations with Europe. I doubt the groups have the sophistication or connections needed to put together this level of operation, but you never know.

Sadly, I find it depressingly likely that Israel did run this operation themselves, and both the use of passports and the blatant nature of the operation were intentional. The goal there was probably to prevent Europeans from traveling freely in the middle east and possibly trigger a retaliatory attack against them, damaging relations between the middle east and Europe further. Relations between Europe and the Israelis have been fairly sour lately and perhaps they consider further damage (so long as it doesn't descend into actual conflict) to be no great loss.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:28 AM on March 24, 2010


Who are the family members of the person terrified OF? Hamas? Israel? I understand the anger, I suppose, but why the fear? And who's providing the 24-hour security in his house?
posted by yiftach at 12:37 AM on March 24, 2010


The Dubai police chief has announced his plans to identify and exclude travellers with Jewish features. This is both alarming and amusing: alarming because a reporter from the New York Times thinks that it's notatallracist (link to quotation and translation police chief's statement); amusing because it seems he will be ordering his staff to distinguish between visitors with the Aryan looks of Yasser Arafat and hunchbacked, hook-nosed, lisping wretches like Stephen Fry and Michael Douglas.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:31 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


They're usually a lot more slick

Well, except when murdering innocent bystanders they've mistaken for terrorists, or getting arseholed out of New Zealand and Australia for running passport-forging rings.
posted by rodgerd at 1:38 AM on March 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


The Dubai police chief has announced his plans to identify and exclude travellers with Jewish features.

Yeah, I wonder who they got that idea from...
posted by Skeptic at 2:46 AM on March 24, 2010


You know Joe in Australia, I was going to say that he just meant Israelis - most Arabs use Jewish and Israeli as near synonyms - but looking at the original quote it looks like you're right.

It's odd because the rest of his comment refers very clearly to Israeli/European dual nationals.

The reason the comment was made to an Arabic language newspaper is because there have been calls in the FNC (Federal National Council) in the UAE to no-longer allow EU passport holders to enter without a visa - there's a lot of resentment among Emiratis that they don't have reciprocal rights in the EU - obviously that would be bad for their tourist industry.

Of course the fact that this is basically just an empty load of guff to placate the mob doesn't make it less racist, but it does mean that he probably doesn't actually believe that his staff have a magical Jew-dar.
posted by atrazine at 2:53 AM on March 24, 2010


I'm surprised that no one has pointed out the inherent pointlessness in expelling an Israeli Diplomat. What difference does this make to anything? Oh wait, it 'sends a powerful message' right? I imagine when the assassination was in it's planning stage there was an item on the agenda marked 'consequences of forged documents' then a pause and then probably laughter as someone remarked our diplomat may get sent home.
posted by numberstation at 4:56 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Instituting biometric passports because of the risk that foreign spies will clone your passport and use it during a oceans 11 style assassination is an absurd overreaction.

Maybe, but it's a decent PR pretext for rolling out something you've been planning for ages. Might as well strike while the iron is hot, when people are more likely to be paranoically sympathetic to the idea.

This technology don't come cheap (whether you're talking about enrolment for biometrics or verification of issued credentials at points of entry & elsewhere) so it's not a decision that anybody would ever make on a whim, in response to an oceans 11 style assassination. Ballpark costs would be at least $50M-$100M for a country with a population the size of Britain's.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:09 AM on March 24, 2010


Actually all new EU passports are biometric and have been for 2-3 years, I think they might use this as an excuse to accelerate the roll-out.
posted by atrazine at 5:19 AM on March 24, 2010


I imagine when the assassination was in it's planning stage there was an item on the agenda marked 'consequences of forged documents' then a pause and then probably laughter as someone remarked our diplomat may get sent home.

You're probably right. Others have noted that Israel is increasingly isolating itself.
posted by vacapinta at 5:22 AM on March 24, 2010


How do you know that a diplomat you've expelled for passport forgery hasn't come straight back, eh?
posted by cromagnon at 5:29 AM on March 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


You could always forge a bunch of Israeli passports & assassinate him.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:35 AM on March 24, 2010


If you can get BBC iPlayer there is a darkly amusing interview with Aryeh Eldad, leader of the Hatikva party which form one of the National Union alliance factions in the Knesset, who basically says that the UK are hypocrites and any government in the 'War on Terror' would/should support these tactics. Lead in starts at 1:05:30 & the actual interview at 1:07:15.

He then went on to liken the British to dogs on Sky News.

I have friends who make regular trips from the UK to Israel for work. Guess what they're not going to be doing for a while?
posted by i_cola at 5:54 AM on March 24, 2010


I'm surprised that nobody's pointed out that the Dubai assassination is not technically terrorism by any objective measure. Murder, indeed, but there was no attempt to use it to terrorise third parties (in fact, it was meant to look like an accident). The word "terrorism" is one of those emotive hot-button terms that increasingly gets stretched to mean anything from shoplifting to street photography. In fact, this is probably as un-terroristic as a recent Mossad assassination gets.
posted by acb at 5:57 AM on March 24, 2010


Blair Wows Aipac Amid U.K.-Israel Tensions - "Blair didn’t mention, nor was asked, about a diplomatic tussle currently playing out in London that has the British government preparing to expel an Israeli diplomat... What could have been a delicate moment for Blair, however, turned into a love-fest between himself and the Jewish-American community. He reaffirmed the right of Israel to defend itself and said he’d double up his own efforts to strengthen the Jewish state’s security by building up the Palestinian economy and its security forces."

New Legal Moves Against America's Israel Lobby - "Tony Blair, knew of the legal filing meeting that had taken place as the AIPAC convention got underway, it is a measure of the influence of the lobbying organisation in Washington that Blair was there at all. His speech to the AIPAC Convention deserves examination more for what it did not say, than what it did. There was no direct criticism of the new, illegal East Jerusalem settlements, nor was there any remonstration for Israel for its overwhelming use of force in civilian areas of Gaza during last year’s military incursion, despite the evidence amassed in the Goldstone Report for the United Nations. While Blair was praiseworthy for some of the very real economic strides that have been made on the occupied West Bank, under the tutelage of President Abbas, there was not a single reference to the huge number of Israeli military roadblocks that threaten to throttle much of the economic progress of which Blair is justifiably proud. And herein lies the question; what on earth was Tony Blair doing speaking at the AIPAC Convention – a body as far removed from the Quartet’s Special Envoy’s job description as is possible to imagine? Unless of course, Blair does appreciate that there is some truth in the claim that AIPAC is an arm of the Israeli Government, and might just be able to exert some leverage on the Netanyahu Government."
posted by kliuless at 6:04 AM on March 24, 2010


but I guess I didn't expect people to start cloning passports for assassins either.

I wonder if they use that sixteen year old in Montana that makes all the fake IDs.
posted by anniecat at 6:39 AM on March 24, 2010


Canada totally behaved like Canadians. You insult us? We'll just go home now.
In 1997, Canada pulled its ambassador from Israel after two Mossad agents were caught using Canadian passports during a failed assassination attempt on Khalid Mashaal -- a leading Hamas official -- in Jordan.

Israel assured Canada then that Canadian passports would no longer be used for covert purposes.

However, the National Post reported in 2002 that an informant had supplied information to Israeli agents posing as Canadians while on a mission to locate a senior Hamas leader in Gaza. Militant Palestinian leader Salah Shehadeh was later assassinated by Israeli forces in a July 23 missile attack that also killed 14 others, including nine children.
posted by anthill at 7:00 AM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


haha i love that everyone on the internet is an expert on the operations of foreign intelligence services

While I am neither an expert on foreign intelligence services nor assassinations, I am still surprised that Israel would send tons of spies for such a job. What is the current rate of spies Dubai claims to have found/identified? 20? 30? This sounds strange to me for such a job.

I do think that there is strong evidence that links Israel to the execution. Maybe times have just changed. Who would have expected the Dubai authorities to identify the execution as a murder and not as a "heart attack"? The guys could have just shoot the guy with a silencer or kill him with a knife (my laymen understanding). The form of the execution makes me think they expected it not to get detected. Also things have changed. It is not 1980 or 1990, today you have video surveillance everywhere, computers link many steps, these guys all used prepaid Credit Cards from the same bank. I remember that one US secret service run into problems in Italy when they kidnapped a terrorist suspect. They all used phone SIM cards bought with the same Credit Card.

Maybe the foreign intelligence service members are not as smart as we think?
posted by yoyo_nyc at 7:26 AM on March 24, 2010


Word is that two of the assassins escaped to Iran.

I heard they went to Jordan to pick up Saddam's WMDs first.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:30 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you can get BBC iPlayer there is a darkly amusing interview with Aryeh Eldad, leader of the Hatikva party which form one of the National Union alliance factions in the Knesset, who basically says that the UK are hypocrites and any government in the 'War on Terror' would/should support these tactics. Lead in starts at 1:05:30 & the actual interview at 1:07:15.

He then went on to liken the British to dogs on Sky News.


For additional context: Eldad originally founded the Hatikvah Party on the idea that there should be no Palestinian state, and that all Palestinians should be resettled in Arab countries. They also wanted to tie the right to vote to IDF military service. (Apparently he's read his Heinlein.) More about his positions here. The secular, minority Hatikva party joined the far right-wing, nationalist National Union party in an alliance during the 2009 elections, uniting with four others on an anti-Palestinian state / pro-Zionist / anti-Oslo accords agenda.

He's a minor voice and considered an extreme nationalist, but someone worth keeping tabs on. He's highly respected in certain circles due to his military record, and because he has urged a separation from religious influence in Israeli politics.
posted by zarq at 7:38 AM on March 24, 2010


Damn, I was right.

To be honest, I was just having a bit of fun with Canada, but really... expelling *your own* ambassador?!

"Don't abuse our citizens by stealing their identity, or I'm going on a vacation, eh?! I could be gone for aboot two weeks!"
posted by markkraft at 7:41 AM on March 24, 2010


Olim is a term used to refer to all Jewish immigrants, Orthodox or otherwise, and has nothing to do with religion except etymologically. Also, your editorial suggests that the olim in question had their identities stolen, not that they were the assassins or willingly gave their identities to the assassins. So you're basically just making up the religious angle here.

So... I had to look it up. Have never heard of Aliyah or Olim referred to in a secular manner, primarily because the (American, Israeli and Canadian) Jews I know frame it exclusively in religious terms. But you're right, (as is andoatnp) and it looks like I misread/misinterpreted the editorial.
posted by zarq at 7:42 AM on March 24, 2010


What could have been a delicate moment for Blair, however, turned into a love-fest between himself and the Jewish-American community.

Well, he is a big fan of killing muslims and lying about it, aand he has Britains best intersts toheart in roughly the same way Israel does. And Bush was his boss. I expect it was one big old neocon nostalgia fest.
posted by Artw at 7:45 AM on March 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Don't abuse our citizens by stealing their identity, or I'm going on a vacation, eh?! I could be gone for aboot two weeks!"

HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! NOW DO A FRENCH GUY WITH A STRIPED SHIRT AND A BAG OF ONIONS!!!
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 7:55 AM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


"What could have been a delicate moment for Blair, however, turned into a love-fest between himself and the Jewish-American community."

Well, considering that Blair is so deeply involved in carrying water for the corrupt, unelected Fatah "government" as they repress their own people, while systemically trying to exclude the elected Palestinian majority party from *any* involvement in an actual peace settlement and turning a blind eye to the criminal blockade of a major city, well...

Words don't express that level of suckupitude.

Tony Blair is a menace and a disgrace, who should be kept away from Palestine, the EU, or anything that hints of diplomatic responsibility. How could someone once so popular and so hopeful get so much so wrong? Why do the British defer to his level of chronic failure?

Who cares if a man can debate and debate and debate some more without ever admitting to failure? It's not like that kind of stubborn arrogance somehow magically makes them less wrong, really.
posted by markkraft at 8:14 AM on March 24, 2010


Hey Britain... want to send Tony Blair somewhere, in order to keep him busy for awhile?

How about The Hague next time?!
posted by markkraft at 8:25 AM on March 24, 2010


Battered Binyamin Netanyahu comes out fighting: Britain's expulsion of an Israeli diplomat is another blow to Netanyahu, but he's defiant in the face of global pressure
posted by homunculus at 8:48 AM on March 24, 2010


Funnily enough I saw Blair at the European Parliament , talking about his work as an envoy. Perhaps overly optimistic, but what disappointed me was the questioning from MEPs, who were, to be blunt, embarrassingly bad.

It is important to remember that Blair has nothing to do with the political side of things, he's a nuts and bolts man over there, but his experience in Northern Ireland is obviously an asset.
posted by quarsan at 11:03 AM on March 24, 2010


OK, this is weird. Here is a link to a report by the Palestinian broadcaster, the Maan news agency dated the 20th of January 2010. It is the obituary of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, and says that he "died of terminal cancer in a hospital in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday."

As we now know, he had been assassinated in the evening of the 19th. His body was found "after lunch" on the 20th. So the news report went out the same day the body was discovered. Dubai is two hours ahead of the West Bank, but that still means that within twelve hours of his death his body had been identified, his associates alerted, a cover story arranged, and a report broadcast.

This doesn't sound right to me, especially since Hamas didn't claim that he had ben assassinated for nine days. The Dubai police chief announced the results of the autopsy on February 18th.

I've been trying and trying to make sense of this scenario. If Mahmoud was on a secret mission then I can understand Hamas trying to conceal it - but in that case why report his death at all? And since his (cancer-free) body directly contradicted their story, surely they ought to have waited until they either had control of it or it was destroyed. And once again: this all happened very, very fast. Did they really only discover his death after the police had identified the body? But if they knew about his death earlier, why didn't they do something about the body?
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:13 PM on March 24, 2010


Funnily enough I saw Blair at the European Parliament , talking about his work as an envoy. Perhaps overly optimistic, but what disappointed completely failed to surprise me was the questioning from MEPs, who were, to be blunt, embarrassingly bad.

Disappointed by MEPs being embarrassingly bad at their jobs? Seriously, quarsan, how long have you been in Brussels, two days. I'd be pleasantly surprised by some of them if they managed to tie their shoelaces themselves...
posted by Skeptic at 11:31 AM on March 27, 2010


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