Comment: Did Israel assassinate senior Hamas official in Syria?

Kamel RanajaBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The leadership of Hamas has accused Israel of assassinating one of its senior officials in Syria last Wednesday. The Palestinian militant group, which controls the Gaza Strip, announced late last week that the charred body of Kamel Ranaja had been found in his half-burned apartment in Syrian capital Damascus. Ranaja, known informally as Nizar Abu Mujhad, was said to have replaced the post of the late Hamas weapons procurer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Al-Mabhouh was killed in 2010 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, most likely by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. Citing French news agency Agence France Presse, Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz quoted an unnamed Hamas official as saying that “a group of people entered [Ranaja’s] home […] and killed him”, adding that “according to the information that we have gathered, the Mossad is behind the attack”. Reports from Reuters published in the British press suggest that Ranaja’s charred body “bore signs of torture” and that it had been dismembered. There are also suggestions that the group that attacked the Hamas official’s apartment took with them an unspecified volume of documents and computer files before setting the place on fire.

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News you may have missed #660

Margaret ThatcherBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Taiwan President accused of spying on political opponents. Taiwan’s opposition challenger for the presidency, Tsai Ing-wen, has accused intelligence services under the control of incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou of tracking her campaign events for political advantage. The allegations – unproven and denied by Ma – conjure up memories of Taiwan’s one-party past when Ma’s party, the Nationalists, used their total control of the state apparatus to persecute opponents.
►►Analysis: Has Israeli-Australian spy relationship been restored? Intelligence sharing between Israel and Australia was halted this time last year, when a Mossad hit squad with forged Australian passports assassinated senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in in Dubai. But Australian newspaper The Age reports that “the flow of top secret intelligence between the two countries has now been restored”, in a move apparently initiated by the Australian side.
►►Thatcher threatened to ban BBC program on MI5 and MI6. The Conservative government of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher threatened to “veto” a BBC investigative program about British intelligence services MI5 and MI6, because it would reveal details about how they operated and question their public accountability. In a letter marked “top secret and personal”, cabinet secretary Sir Robert Armstrong, recommended that Margaret Thatcher consider invoking the rarely used power, saying that “the government has the power to ban any program”. Thatcher wrote on the note: “I would be prepared to use the veto”.

Mossad spy network allegedly busted in Mauritania

Fares al-BannaBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Authorities in the northwestern African country of Mauritania have allegedly busted an Israeli spy network linked to the 2010 assassination of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. One of Mauridania’s leading daily newspapers, Al-Huriyeh, says that the spy ring, which allegedly consisted “businessmen and activists [from] several Arab nationalities”, was uncovered following the arrest of one of its members, identified as Fares al-Banna. A Jordanian citizen of Palestinian extraction, al-Banna was arrested for larceny, which eventually lead to a warrant issued for searching his premises. Upon searching his house, authorities reportedly found a handwritten letter, addressed to the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates in Mauritanian capital Nouakchott, in which al-Banna claimed had been recruited by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. In the letter, al-Banna also claimed that he had participated in the January 2010 assassination of Hamas weapons procurer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. The letter also alleges that al-Banna helped Mossad carry out a bombing of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET409, which blew up in mid-air on January 24, 2010, five minutes after taking off from Beirut’s Rafiq Hariri International Airport, en route to Addis Ababa. Al-Huriyeh reports that al-Banna’s letter suggests the Mossad blew up the plane in order to kill one or more Hezbollah targets who were on board. The Mauritanian daily says that police officers who searched al-Banna’s home, as well as his office at a travel agents called “United Travel Services”, found several different passports containing his picture, “dozens of credit cards”, as well as a sophisticated device believed to be a transmitter of some kind. Read more of this post

New clues in extensive recount of al-Mabhouh assassination

Ronen Bergman

Ronen Bergman

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The current issue of US-based magazine GQ contains what must be the most extensive account in English of the 2010 assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. Written by Israeli investigative journalist Ronen Bergman (author of The Secret War with Iran), the piece contains several new clues about the targeted killing of al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas official, in a luxury hotel in Dubai last January. One new element that stands out in Bergman’s account is that, two months prior to his assassination, al-Mabhouh survived a poisoning attempt by the same team of Israeli operatives, again in Dubai. The Hamas official fell ill, but recovered fully. Bergman also claims that the operation to target al-Mabhouh, which must have lasted several months or even years, involved the use of an elaborate Trojan horse virus that was implanted on al-Mabhouh’s computer, and allowed Mossad operatives to monitor his email correspondence. It was through this method that the Israelis became aware of al-Mabhouh’s itinerary during his fatal trip to Dubai. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #464 (Mossad edition)

British citizen among Mossad assassins intrigues investigators

Christopher Lockwood

Lockwood

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Only a handful of the 33 members of an Israeli assassination squad, who killed a senior Hamas member in Dubai last January, carried non-fraudulent passports. Most of the assassins, who in all probability worked for Kidon, an elite assassination unit within Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, used forged British, Irish, German, Australian, and other passports. Dubai officials investigating the murder of Hamas weapons procurer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh have identified at least one British citizen among non-fraudulent passport holders in the Mossad assassination team: he is 62-year-old Christopher Lockwood (photo), who helped facilitate al-Mabhouh’s assassination by transporting some of the Mossad members around Dubai “in a [rented] white minivan with tinted windows”. Read more of this post

Ireland not to recall passports following Mossad forgeries

Forged passports

Forged passports

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The government of Ireland has decided against recalling millions of passports issued before 2005, following the discovery of several forged Irish passports used by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. At least seven of the Mossad operatives who took part in last January’s assassination of senior Hamas military official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, used forged Irish passports to enter and exit the United Arab Emirates. An official investigation into the affair by the Irish government uncovered an extensive Israeli document forgery network in Ireland, and led to the expulsion of an Israeli embassy official from the country. But Irish government officials, tired of the long history of forged Irish passports used by intelligence agencies around the world, flirted with the idea of recalling all Irish passports issued before 2005, when sophisticated security features were introduced. Read more of this post

Germany lets captured Mossad spy suspect return to Israel

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh

Al-Mabhouh

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
German authorities have allowed an Israeli intelligence operative suspected of links to an assassination of a Palestinian official to return to Israel, despite outstanding passport forgery charges against him. The operative, whose travel documents identify him as Uri Brodsky, was arrested upon arriving in Poland on June 4, 2010. An Interpol arrest warrant for Brodsky had been previously issued by German prosecutors, who accuse Brodsky of  helping procure a forged German passport for use by a member of an assassination squad operating under Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. The user of the forged passport is believed to have used the travel document to enter Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in mid-January of this year, where he participated in the killing of Palestinian Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a Hamas weapons procurer, who was found dead in his luxury Dubai hotel room on January 20. Polish authorities decided to extradite Brodsky to Germany despite intense diplomatic pressure from Israel, who pressed Warsaw and Berlin to allow the operative to return home to Israel without facing charges. But intelligence observers, who were initially impressed with Poland and Germany’s strong stance on the issue, soon realized that Brodsky’s extradition was part of a Polish-German-Israeli deal, under which Brodsky would avoid jail sentence and get away with a minor fine for forging an official German travel document. This is precisely what happened. Read more of this post

Mossad operative to avoid jail in extradition deal

Uri Brodsky

"Uri Brodsky"

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
An operative of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, who was arrested in Poland on charges of forging a German passport, will avoid prison time for the offense, under a suspected Polish-German-Israeli secret deal. The man, whose travel documents identify him as Uri Brodsky, was arrested upon arriving in Poland on June 4. He is wanted by German prosecutors for procuring a forged German passport for use by a member of a Mossad hit squad, who used it to enter Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in mid-January of this year. The user of the forged passport is thought to have participated in the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a Hamas weapons procurer, who was found dead in his luxury Dubai hotel room on January 20.  German prosecutors believe that Brodsky, who worked in Germany under the name of Alexander Werin, assisted numerous Mossad operatives acquire forged identity papers of several European countries, including Estonia, Latvia, Austria and Switzerland. Read more of this post

Poland to extradite Israeli spy to Germany on lesser charges

Uri Brodsky

"Uri Brodsky"

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A judge in Poland has ruled in favor of the extradition to Germany of an Israeli alleged spy, wanted by Interpol in connection with the assassination of a Hamas official last January. The court ruling stipulates that Israeli citizen Uri Brodsky, who was arrested upon arriving in Poland on June 4, is to be extradited to Germany, where he will face charges of forgery. Authorities in Berlin accuse Brodsky of having helped an assassination team working for Israeli intelligence agency Mossad to acquire a forged German passport, used by an assassination team member to travel in and out of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. While there, the Israeli assassins are thought to have killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a weapons procurer for Palestinian group Hamas, who was in Dubai on a business trip. Shortly after Brodsky’s arrest in Warsaw, Poland and Berlin came under intense pressure from Israel to ignore the Interpol arrest warrant for the alleged Israeli spy, drop all charges, and allow him to flee to Israel. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #387

  • Blackwater to ‘abandon US government market’. Erik Prince, occasional CIA operative and CEO of Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, has said in an interview that he is tired of Congressional oversight regulations and plans to abandon US government business forever. Meanwhile, there are reports that Xe has just won a $100 million contract to guard CIA facilities in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
  • Congress won’t back down on CIA oversight battle. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is battling a veto threat by US President Barack Obama, as well as against the CIA and powerful House and Senate Democrats and Republicans, over Congressional oversight of US intelligence services.
  • Mossad chief to step down after eight years. Mossad Director Meir Dagan’s request to extend his term by another year has been denied, and he will step down in three months’ time, according to Israeli media reports. The chief of Dubai Police, which exposed a January 2010 Mossad assassination of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, said Dagan’s ousting is related to the botched operation.

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Germany refuses to drop Mossad prosecution, despite Israeli pressure

Uri Brodsky

"Uri Brodsky"

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
German-Israeli relations sunk to a new low this week, after the German government rejected Israel’s call to drop a public investigation into the actions of a suspected Israeli spy. The alleged spy, whose travel documents identify him as “Uri Brodsky”, was arrested upon arriving in Poland on June 4. He is wanted by German prosecutors, not for directly participating in the assassination by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad of senior Hamas weapons procurer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, as had been previously reported, but for procuring a forged German passport for the assassins. “Brodsky” appears to have traveled under the cover name of “Alexander Verin” to Cologne, Germany, where he employed the services of a lawyer to acquire the forged passport. It was later used used by Israeli Mossad agents to travel to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where al-Mabhouh was assassinated. Read more of this post

Alleged Mossad agent arrested in Poland

Uri Brodsky

"Uri Brodsky"

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Authorities in Poland have detained an alleged Israeli agent who may be connected with the assassination of a senior Hamas operative last January. German newsmagazine Der Spiegel quoted anonymous government prosecutors in Berlin, who said the man works for Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, and was arrested upon arriving in Poland on June 4. The alleged agent, whose travel documents identify him as “Uri Brodsky”, is wanted by German prosecutors for using a forged German passport to enter Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in January of this year. He then joined a team of Mossad assassins to kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a Hamas weapons procurer, who was found dead in his luxury hotel room on January 20. Read more of this post

Comment: Aussie ex-spies comment on Israeli forged passports affair

Australian passport

Australia passport

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Regular IntelNews readers are aware of the current crisis in Israeli-Australian relations, which broke out as a result of the use of several forged Australian passports by the Israeli intelligence services. The passports were among several Western identity documents employed by Israeli Mossad agents in targeting Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was assassinated in a luxury Dubai hotel last January. The revelation prompted Canberra to announce the expulsion of Israel’s senior Mossad representative in the country. The dust has yet to settle, and the recent shooting of an Australian citizen onboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla during last Monday’s bloody raid by the Israeli Defense Forces has the potential to worsen Australian-Israeli relations even further. What is the view of all this from Australia? IntelNews asked two Australian former intelligence officers, who offered their input on an anonymous basis. Read more of this post

We use false passports too, Australians admit

Julie Bishop

Julie Bishop

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Israeli intelligence agencies are not alone in using false passports. In fact, intelligence and law enforcement agencies in Australia, the country that is currently involved in a diplomatic spat with Israel due to the latter’s use of forged Australian passports in spy operations, also use forged travel documents. This admission was made yesterday by Australian senior opposition politician Julie Bishop during a live session in the Australian parliament. The parliamentary debate concerned recent revelations that agents of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad used forged Australian passports during an assassination operation against Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was found murdered in a luxury Dubai hotel last January. Australian government officials were quick to condemn Ms Bishop’s revelation as “a grievous breach of national security”. But Australian daily newspaper The Age reports that the opposition politician “merely made public an inconvenient truth”. Read more of this post