Answers to questions about al-Mabhouh’s assassination

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh


The intelNews email inbox is literally bulging with messages about the recent assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the co-founder of Hamas’ military wing, who was found dead in Dubai last month. Here are brief answers to a selection of readers’ questions. Q. Is there any doubt that Mossad was behind the assassination? A. Almost none. By no means was Israel al-Mabhouh’s sole enemy. In fact, his killing caused little distress among Fatah’s leadership, and at least two Palestinians are believed to have assisted in the assassination. Nevertheless, the operation has all the hallmarks of a state-sponsored action, something particularly evident in the sophisticated travel documentation forgery involved. Moreover, the tactics of the hit squad, its composition, as well as its methods, point almost directly to the Mossad.  Q. Were those passports real, or not? If not, who are the people in the photos? The eleven known members of the hit squad utilized British, Irish, German, and one French (the squad leader) passports. These passports are real, and so are the photographs in them, which are those of the actual members of the Kidon (the Mossad’s assassination unit) who used the passports to enter and exit the United Arab Emirates. The agency behind the assassination operation used stolen identities of real people, in order to apply for real passports issued under the names of these real people, but with photographs that match the members of the Kidon assassination squad. Q. Are the photographs released by the Dubai Police the actual photos of the assassins? A. Yes. The passport photographs released by Dubai Police authorities show the actual hit squad members. But the corresponding names are those of innocent individuals, whose identities were simply stolen. Q. Will these people ever be apprehended? A. The chance of something like this happening is extremely slim. All Kidon members are now safely back in Israel, and will probably never work again outside Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Some will retire from the Mossad or, more likely, be reassigned to cushy office jobs.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

5 Responses to Answers to questions about al-Mabhouh’s assassination

  1. legion says:

    My wife, who is Jewish, feels quite certain that while the passports may have been applied for with the names of real people, they were likely not people chosen purely at random… any thoughts on this? Does the Mossad make a habit of totally reaming the future international travel abilities of random yutzes (I can only imagine the hell one of those people will go through if they ever try to travel past some TSA goon…), or are they likely to be people who, shall we say, won’t complain for some reason or another?

  2. Saoirsí says:

    Regarding the passports: EUObserver reports…
    … that the governments are insisting they are forgeries. The Irish government sources are saying “the numbered passports are ‘here in Ireland in the hands of the Irish citizens, so if the Dubai passports are using the same numbers, they have to be fake.'”
    Although, in fairness, given their level of competence in other areas, I’m not saying that’s conclusive.

  3. Van says:

    Perhaps the next big mission that Mossad chooses will not involve 75% of the team members wearing the same ugly glasses.

  4. Saoirsí says:

    Haaretz reports…
    … “Britain ‘knew Mossad was using fake passports for Dubai hit’ ”

    Also, I notice how in the Sky News report linked to in the article: the Irish government there says there were no passports issued in those names. Then the next day an Irish source says to EUObserver that the passports are in Ireland with Irish citizens. Aha.

  5. intelNews says:

    Thanks for all the enlightening comments. To Saoirsí, you are right, there is some conflicting information about the travel documents (as there is about the assassination method, the use of credit cards, cell phones, etc, by the assassins). But let me state the obvious point that, if the passports were forged from scratch –i.e. not actually issued by British, Irish, French, etc, passport authorities– there would have been no reason to apply for them using actual names of actual British, Irish, French, etc, citizens. There is also the issue of the RFID chips on the passports (an issue that escapes the debate so far), which appeared to be perfectly functional. [JF]

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