Several Birds, One Stone
Saleh Al-NaamiTHE AGEING father of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was assassinated in Dubai two weeks ago, did not believe that his son died of a heart attack. “They killed him,” he repeatedly stated.
In the beginning, the rest of al-Mabhouh’s family and Hamas leaders believed that he had died as a result of a stroke, as stated in a preliminary report by the Dubai police. It soon became apparent, however, that the intuition of the father was correct.
One week after his death, it was revealed that al-Mabhouh was killed by a highly trained assassination unit. According to information gathered by the Dubai police and Hamas, a group of seven broke into al-Mabhouh’s room at the Rotana al-Bustan Hotel the day he arrived from Damascus, where he resided with his family. Al-Mabhouh had entered the emirate using an alias and forged passport.
The group of seven injected the Hamas leader with a poison that mimics the symptoms of a heart attack, leading Dubai police to believe his death was caused by a stroke. When it was revealed that the victim was a leading member in Hamas, and given the repeated suspicions of his father that Mahmoud was assassinated by Israelis, the police sent samples of al-Mabhouh’s blood to a laboratory in France. After the results confirmed traces of poison, Hamas officially announced that the Israeli Mossad killed al-Mabhouh.
While Tel Aviv remained silent about the assassination, soon Israeli cabinet members were strongly hinting that Israel was in fact behind the killing. State Minister Danny Hershkovitz asserted that the successful elimination demonstrates that Mossad Chief Meir Dagan is one of the most competent Mossad leaders in the history of Israel. “He is undoubtedly performing his job above and beyond expectations,”stated Hershkovitz. “Personally, I believe the Mossad knows exactly how to stop Israel’s enemies. Anyone who lays a hand on Jews is risking his life.”
Meanwhile, Minister of Minorities Avishay Braverman proposed, “We should act according to the axiom ‘kill before you are killed.’” Al-Mabhouh was murdered on the same day that Israeli Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau was attending an international energy conference in Abu Dhabi.
A highly placed security source told the popular Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot on Jan. 31: “Al-Mabhouh’s file in Israeli intelligence labels him as a clear and present threat to Israel’s security.” The newspaper claimed that al-Mabhouh was responsible for fund-raising for Hamas, as well as making arms deals and delivering them to Gaza. It further alleged that he was the right hand man to Ezzeddin Khalil, who was in charge of the movement’s finances, and that they worked together to strengthen ties with Iran and Hezbollah officials in Lebanon and Turkey. They also reportedly tapped into rich Muslim circles around the world. Sheikh Khalil was assassinated in Damascus in 2004.
The Israelis are quick to point out al-Mabhouh is one of the founders of the Ezzeddin al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, and played a principal role in kidnapping two Israeli soldiers in 1989. When he was exposed, al-Mabhouh fled from the Gaza Strip through the border with Egypt and settled in Damascus.
The assassination in Dubai is categorized by the Israeli Mossad as a “silent mission”—meaning it leaves no evidence leading to Israel. The operation apparently was retaliation to al-Mabhouh’s resistance activities, and aims to serve as a warning to Hamas military leaders who are holding captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. According to the Israeli logic, the mission was also a message that it can reach Shalit’s kidnappers, and aims to demoralize resistance movements, sow doubt in their ranks, and undermine their capabilities.
The Zionist security apparatus appears also to have wanted to bring about a new political environment, since it expects Hamas to respond to the assassination with military action. Hamas’ expected aggression would be employed by Israel to achieve two main goals. First, Israel would blame Hamas for the deteriorating security situation, improving Israel’s standing in the international arena after it was dealt a severe blow by the release of the Goldstone Report accusing it of crimes against humanity. Second, it would give Tel Aviv a pretext to strike Hamas in Gaza, especially in light of Israeli claims that the movement acquired missiles that would change the strategic balance between the two sides.
Since the Mossad is directly under the authority of the Israeli prime minister, he is directly responsible for issuing orders for assassinations abroad. The Committee of Agency Leaders, whose members include the military chief of staff, the head of military intelligence in Amman, the chief of the Mossad, the head of domestic intelligence (Shin Bet), and the prime minister’s military secretary, draws up the list of candidates to be assassinated.
Since the 1970s and until the failed attempt to kill the head of Hamas’ politburo, Khaled Meshal, in Amman in 1997, the Israeli military—represented by Sayeret Matkal, which is directly accountable to military intelligence—was in charge of killing Palestinians and Arabs in Europe. The attempt on Meshal’s life was a turning point in Israel’s assassination policy because it was the first to be carried out by Mossad on Arab soil. The Kidon unit in the Mossad Special Operations Division—known as Kissaria—attempted to kill Meshal and is most likely to have carried out al-Mabhouh’s assassination.
The question now is whether Tel Aviv will succeed in luring Hamas into another round of confrontations to serve Israeli interests. Judging by statements issued by many leading figures in Hamas, it appears that the group is very cautious in deciding how to react to the assassination. Mahmoud al-Zahhar, member of Hamas’ politburo, believes al-Mabhouh’s slaying indicates Israel’s desire to “change the rules of the game.” Al-Zahhar asserted his group’s right to defend itself, but quickly added: “Reaction to the assassination must be weighed carefully.” He also said that if the group decides to respond, retaliation would take place inside Palestine, not abroad.
Al-Zahhar stated that in seeking retribution, Hamas would be cautious not to jeopardize its relationship with Arab and Muslim countries. “We limit our confrontation with the Israeli enemy to the occupied territories, but if Israel wants to change the ground rules and open up the world stage for the conflict, it will take sole responsibility for the repercussions,” warned al-Zahhar.
Despite the bravado, it is most probable that if Hamas decides to retaliate, this would indeed take place inside Palestine. According to most experts, the group does not have any military infrastructure overseas. Hamas has never targeted Israeli interests outside the borders of Palestine.
Hamas also knows that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is intent on sabotaging negotiations between Hamas and Israel regarding the exchange of prisoners. On the one hand, Netanyahu rejects Hamas’ demands for the release of detainees. At the same time he is under immense pressure by Israeli public opinion and some security and political circles to close a deal. Hence, the assassination of al-Mabhouh is an attempt to push Hamas to a more extreme position, in order to blame it for failed negotiations.
This article first appeared in the Feb. 4-10, 2010 issue of the weekly Al-Ahram. Copyright © Al-Ahram Weekly. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
Israel Goes Rogue
By Justin RaimondoWhen is the world going to finally decide Israel has gone too far—and do something about it?
When Israel invaded and retained the occupied territories, imposing a regime that resembles the old South African apartheid system, the world looked the other way—after all, beleaguered Israel was fighting for its survival, and, besides that, peace talks were underway. The daily grinding down of the Palestinians could be accepted as a temporary and even necessary evil as long as there was some sort of vague expiration date attached to the arrangement.
When it began to look like peace might be just a pipedream, and the Israelis continued sponsoring invasive “settlements” to cement their conquest, the world looked the other way. After all, everybody knew Netanyahu had to deal with an increasingly right-wing Israeli electorate, and his government could fall apart at any moment: no one expected President Obama to get tough with Tel Aviv anyway, and so no one was too surprised when the U.S. caved on the settlements issue.
The bombing and continued blockade of Gaza, the barbaric invasions of Lebanon, and the continuing refusal to correct the widespread human rights violations documented in the Goldstone Report—all of this has darkened Israel’s image considerably, even among its staunch supporters. On account of this record, Israel is now widely considered a “rogue” nation, at least outside the U.S. One of the major reasons for this shift in perception has to do with the wide-ranging activities of the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service.
With a fearsome reputation for ruthlessness second only to the old KGB, the Israeli intelligence services are known for their boldness and their buccaneering tactics. This was once a public relations advantage: their raid on Entebbe was made into a successful movie for a reason. From rescuing hostages, however, the Mossad has lately gone in for assassinations on foreign soil, most recently in Dubai, where they offed Hamas military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.
This is nothing new for the Israelis: picking off their enemies on foreign soil is a longtime favorite sport of the Mossad. The innovation that’s got Israel’s allies in an uproar, however, is a relatively new weapon in the Mossad’s arsenal: identity theft. As the Telegraph reports:
“Ministers are understood to be furious that an alleged hit squad which murdered a Hamas leader in Dubai last month cloned the passports of six unsuspecting Britons, who are now living in fear of reprisals.
“Israel, which has not denied involvement in the murder, had previously promised that Mossad, its secret intelligence service, would never use British passports to help its agents carry out covert operations.”The six are all British citizens living in Israel, where the Mossad had full access to their essential documents: they simply cloned the passports and sent their agents into Dubai. There the Israelis reportedly assembled quite a contingent, as many as 18, enough to qualify the effort as a full-scale military operation. In effect, the Israelis carried out a mini-invasion of Dubai, a fact not lost on the Emirate authorities.
Interpol has posted the photos of the 11 (so far) known suspects, and issued a statement, including the following:
“Since INTERPOL has reason to believe that the suspects linked to this murder have stolen the identities of real people, the Red Notices specify that the names used were aliases used to commit murder. INTERPOL has officially made public the photos and the names fraudulently used on the passports in order to limit the ability of accused murderers from traveling freely using the same false passports.”If any institution embodies that vague abstraction known as “the international community,” then surely it is Interpol, which coordinates the capture of transnational criminal gangs—sex traffickers, drug lords, and, yes, Mossad assassins. That they see Israel’s intelligence agency as an obstacle in their task of limiting “the ability of accused murderers from traveling freely” speaks volumes about the degree to which Israel has truly crossed the line.
This isn’t exactly an innovation on the part of the Israelis: in New Zealand, you’ll recall, they had a large-scale passport “farm” in operation a few years ago. Their agents would identify someone completely disabled, or otherwise unlikely to travel abroad, and—unbeknownst to the victim—apply for a passport in their name. When discovered, the Israelis denied everything, but the cops had the goods and the trial of the Israeli spies was front page news for weeks. The New Zealanders all but broke off diplomatic relations with Israel over the matter, and the Israelis, while never admitting anything, made apologetic noises while the issue—mostly ignored by the Western media outside New Zealand—faded into obscurity.
Now it has arisen once again, but this time in a far more serious context: this isn’t inconsequential-albeit-lovely New Zealand but Britain, France, Germany, Ireland, and possibly other Western nations who have had their passport systems violated. However, the worst of it is that the Mossad has apparently taken to “farming” the passports of Israelis who hold dual citizenships. According to Haaretz: “Five Israelis who hold dual citizenship in Britain and Germany and whose names were on some of the passports denied any connection with the Dubai death.”
If Israel’s intelligence services are now “farming” the passports of those numerous Israelis who hold dual citizenship, then the passport system—the key to maintaining security in the age of terrorism—is no longer reliable or even functional. Israel is a multi-national “nation,” one created by a state-sponsored effort to get people the world over to move there, and many retain citizenship in their country of origin. The U.S. doesn’t compile statistics on dual citizenship, but the number who hold dual Israeli and U.S. citizenship is substantial: they are now all at risk of having their identities stolen by a covert army of assassins.
There’s just one way to solve this growing problem, and that is to ban all dual citizenship, and ask Americans to choose. Yes, there’s a Supreme Court decision standing in the way, but if it requires a constitutional amendment, then so be it. At a time when maintaining the integrity of our passport system is key to preventing terrorist attacks on our territory and against our citizens abroad, it’s worth taking the trouble to patch up this gaping hole in our national security.
That Israel has gone this far in its international campaign of murder and intimidation ought to motivate the civilized nations of the world to unite in protest. The government of Dubai is petitioning to have the head of the Mossad arrested for murder, and, come to think of it, issuing a warrant might not be such a bad idea. With a foreign minister who is the Israeli equivalent of David Duke, and a foreign policy that owes much to the Klingons, Israel, which is veering off into Asiatic despotism, needs to be pulled back toward the West. The way to do that is not to offer the Jewish state unconditional support, no matter how potty and self-destructive its policies may be, but to offer the kind of “tough love” that can bring it back into the Western orbit.
We can’t afford to look away anymore: Israel has massively compromised the security of international travel, and has brought this on itself. Now is the time for the U.S. and other Western countries to rein in their client state gone rogue—before it’s too late.
Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com and a contributing editor for The American Conservative. This article was first posted on <www.antiwar.com>, Feb. 19, 2010. Copyright ©Antiwar.com 2010. Reprinted with permission.