Powered by WebAds

Monday, March 29, 2010

Unanswered questions in Dubai

Edward Jay Epstein highlights some unanswered questions in the liquidation of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.
The much-publicized hotel surveillance videos, while highly diverting on YouTube, do not show any of the 26 suspects engaging in any illegal activities other than using false identities, a practice which is not unknown in Dubai. (Mabhouh himself reportedly had five different passports.) Even if all 26 identity thieves were intelligence operatives, as seems the case, it does not necessarily follow that they were all in Dubai on the same business, or even working for the same side.

Since Iran maintains its largest offshore financing facility in Dubai—which is used by the Revolutionary Guard, among others, to support its traffic in covert weapons— more than one intelligence service might be interested in Mabhouh’s trip. Consider, for example, the peculiar fact that two of the 26 Dubai suspects exited by boat to Iran, according to Dubai authorities; this is not a likely escape route for Mossad agents.

Two other individuals whom the Dubai police had named as suspects worked for the Palestinian Authority, an arch-enemy of Hamas. (They were arrested in Jordan and turned over to Dubai.) Another person wanted by Dubai for questioning returned to Damascus just prior to the killing. And then there is the question of who in Syria played a role in stripping Mabhouh of his protection just hours before his flight to Dubai.

The key missing piece in the jigsaw remains Mabhouh’s mission to Dubai—apparently important enough for him to travel there without his normal contingent of bodyguards.

Mabhouh arrived from the airport at his hotel shortly before 3 p.m., and after changing his clothes left for an unknown destination. He was gone for several hours. But even with its state-of-the-art surveillance cameras in Dubai, and extensive interviews with all the taxi drivers at the hotel, authorities claim they cannot determine either his whereabouts during these hours or the identity of whom he met.

The world-wide focus on the spooks—whose false identities allowed many of them to vanish in the intelligence netherworld—has diverted attention from the potentially embarrassing mission that brought Mabhouh to Dubai. The real intrigue here is not who killed a wanted terrorist, but what he was up to. Without this missing piece, any rush to judgment about who his killers were may be premature.
Some of you may recall that I did some speculating about this very issue back in February.
We know, for example, that the last person who saw Mabhouh alive other than his killers was probably Muhammed al-Massoud, a Hamas commander who is reported to have met with Mabhouh in Dubai and who was subsequently arrested. My guess is that the real target of the Mossad was not Mabhouh himself, but documents that Massoud gave him in their meeting. Simon alludes to this, but doesn't follow it through. After all, we know that Israel had Mabhouh in its custody in the past and released him. It seems unlikely that they suddenly wanted so badly to kill him now that they would have taken the risks that they took with this operation just to kill him.

Those documents, which likely related to Iranian weapons being supplied to Hamas, were photographed by part of the assassination team according to reports. That's likely why the team was so big.
Read the whole thing.


At 2:47 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Its possible al-Mahbouh knew something big and the killers needed to know all about it. Its likely he was questioned extensively before he was killed. The mystery behind his presence in Dubai will probably never be known.



Post a Comment

<< Home