Who killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh?

When Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas official reportedly behind the smuggling of Iranian arms to Gaza, was found dead in his hotel room in Dubai, UAE, on Jan. 20, the organization was quick to point the finger at Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, vowing revenge attacks. But a preliminary investigation conducted by Hamas suggests that the assassination was likely carried out by agents of an Arab government, Israel’s Ha’aretz reports.

Both Hamas and Dubai police say that Mabhouh had enemies across the Middle East. A Hamas source told Ha’aretz that Mabhouh was wanted by authorities in both Jordan and Egypt, where he previously spent a year in prison. Hamas also reportedly suspects its Palestinian rivals in the West Bank. “It is quite possible that Palestinian Authority security forces were involved,” Osama Hamdan, a Hamas leader in Lebanon, told Hezbollah’s TV station Al-Manar. (Ha’aretz, Feb. 2)

In the latest development, Dubai police said a hit squad carrying British and other European passports was responsible for the killing. Police provided names and photographs of the suspects, along with a detailed account of how they tracked al-Mabhouh, and suffocated him within minutes of his arrival at Al Bustan Rotana hotel, near the international airport. The suspects, who disguised themselves with wigs and fake beards, left Dubai immediately after the killing on separate airlines, police said. Two Palestinian suspects in the case have reportedly been arrested in Jordan and extradited to Dubai, where they are now in custody. The UK Foreign Office said the six British passports were fraudulent and the assassins were not Britons. (The Guardian, Feb. 16; NYT, Feb. 15)

See our last post on Israel/Palestine

Please leave a tip or answer the Exit Poll.

  1. Soup thickens in Mabhouh affair
    Despite the supposed Hamas internal investigation pointing the blame elsewhere (cited by Ha’aretz, above), Hamas have limited their public pronouncements to promises of revenge against Israel. Hamas have refused to comment on what Mabhouh was doing in Dubai. (BBC News, Feb. 18) The UK has “invited” (not as strong as “summoned”) Israel’s ambassador to discuss the apparent use of forged British passports by the hit squad. (CSM, Feb. 18) Interpol has issued Red Notices for the 11 suspects identified by Dubai authorities and wanted in the killing. (The National, UAE, Feb. 18) Dubai’s police chief says he is 99% sure Israeli secret service agents were involved in Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s death, but Israel—while stopping short of a flat denial—says there is no proof. (BBC News, Feb. 18)

  2. UK slaps Israel in Mabhouh affair
    The Israeli government will not be allowed to replace the senior Mossad station chief expelled from London over the cloning of British passports used in the assassination of a Hamas commander unless it offers a public assurance that UK citizens’ documents will never be used again for clandestine operations. The Foreign Secretary David Miliband wants his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, to make the pledge. British diplomatic officials are insisting the situation is not negotiable. (The Independent, March 25)

  3. Soup thickens in Mabhouh affair —again
    Israel’s Prisoner X—revealed to have hanged himself in Ayalon prison’s top-security Unit 15 on Dec. 15, 2010, and identified last week by an Australian TV program as Ben Zygier, Australia-born dual Israeli citizen—is widely reported to have been a member of the Mossad squad that assassinated Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Israel has released parts of a report into Zygier’s death, confirming the (supposed) circumstances of his death but shedding little light on those of his disappearance the previous February. Speculation remains widespread that he was disappeared because he was preparing to spill the beans about the assassination, either to the Arab press or the Australian government.

    A Kuwaiti newspaper, al-Jarida, identified Zygier’s alias as Ben Alon, and said he had revealed his involvement in the assassination to the government of Dubai. The report said he was subsequently imprisoned him on treason charges in secrecy so total that even his cell guards did not know his identity. Reports do not indicate if he was ever actually convicted, or was awaiting trial at the time of his death.

    The report by Judge Daphna Blatman Kedrai also failed to say if there is any truth to the reports that Zygier worked for the Mossad. A full 20 of her report’s 28 pages were suppressed by a gag order.

    MK Avigdor Lieberman, who was Foreign Minister at the time of Zygier’s disappearance, denied that he had disappeared, saying that “In Israel people don’t just disappear and no one takes the law in their own hands.” He provided no details on what actually did happen. (YNet, Feb. 26; The Forward, Gawker, Feb. 20; NYT, Feb. 19; Middle East Monitor, Feb. 15; YNet, Feb. 14)