Mossad owns up other people’s crime by golden silence

EVERYBODY ASSUMES THAT
Mossad, the Israeli foreign
intelligence service, carried out
the murder of Mahmoud al-
Mabhouh, a senior Hamas
commander, in Dubai last month.
The Israeli government will
neither confirm nor deny it, but
the average Israeli citizen is sure
of it, and quite pleased by it. After
all, who else was going to go
after him?
Well, theoretically it could have
been the rival Palestinian political
organization, Fatah, which has
been more or less at war with
Hamas for almost three years
now. (Fatah runs the West Bank;
Hamas controls the Gaza Strip.)
Proponents of this theory argue
that the Dubai hit was too clumsy
and sloppy to have been a
Mossad operation.
Would any serious spy agency
put 11 people on a hit team?
Why would seven of them be
travelling on British passports
borrowed or stolen from British-
Israeli dual citizens resident in
Israel? Would they let themselves
be caught repeatedly on video
surveillance cameras as they set
up the killing? This was just not a
professional operation.
It certainly was amateur night in
Dubai, but that doesn’t
necessarily mean that Mossad
was not behind it. The Institute
for Espionage and Special
Operations, to give its proper
name, may be “legendary”, but
some of its past operations have
been anything but professional.
Take the case of the Norwegian
waiter.
In the 20 years after Palestinian
terrorists massacred eleven
Israeli athletes and coaches at
the Munich Olympics in 1972,
Mossad killed more than a dozen
people it suspected of
involvement in the operation.
Most of them had some link to it,
but Ahmed Bouchiki had none at
all.
Bouchiki was a Moroccan
immigrant to Norway who
worked in a restaurant in
Lillehammer. Mossad mistakenly
thought he was Ali Hassan
Salameh, the planner of the
Munich atrocity, so an Israeli hit
team murdered him as he
walked home with his pregnant
wife.
But the two killers committed the
elementary error of driving to the
airport 24 hours later in the
same car they had used for the
getaway (which had been
spotted by the police).
They were arrested, and the
woman of the pair broke down
and confessed that they were
working for Israel. The man had
a telephone number on him
which led the police to the safe
house where the other three
members of the team were
staying. One of them had a list of
instructions from Mossad on him,
and they all ended up in
Norwegian jails. Amateur night
again.
Or take the Mossad attempt in
1997 to kill Hamas’s political
chief, Khaled Meshaal. It
happened in Jordan, which has a
peace treaty with Israel, but the
Mossad assassins travelled there
on Canadian passports borrowed
from Canadian-Israeli residents
with dual citizenship.
They broke into the building
where Meshaal was sleeping and
injected poison into his ear, but
two were captured by Jordanian
police and the other four took
refuge in the Israeli embassy.
Jordan’s outraged King Hussein
demanded the antidote to the
poison, and the Israeli
government reluctantly handed it
over. In response to Canada’s
furious protests about the use of
its passports, Israel promised
never to do that again. Just as it
promised Britain in 1987, and
New Zealand in 2004.
This time the hit team, though
ridiculously large, was less
incompetent: the victim died, and
they all got out of Dubai safely.
The fact that they left enough
evidence behind for the Dubai
police to figure out what
happened does not exclude
Mossad from consideration: it
has bungled operations before.
The Dubai police say they are
now “99 percent if not 100
percent sure” that Mossad was
behind the murder, and most
Western governments assume
the same.
Four Western governments are
especially angry: Britain, France,
Germany and Ireland, whose
passports were used in the
operation. Israel will doubtless
promise once more never to do
that again, and the fuss will
eventually die down.
The Dubai police chief, Lt.-Gen.
Dahi Khalfan Tamim, has asked
Interpol for a “red notice” on
Mossad head Meir Dagan, the
usual preliminary to an arrest
warrant, but Dagan need not stay
awake worrying about it. What
should be causing him sleepless
nights is the fact that all these
killings are counter-productive.
Killing off the leaders of Hamas—
and of Hezbollah, the Lebanese
Shia resistance movement—does
not improve Israel’s security. For
example, it assassinated
Hezbollah’s leader, Abbas al-
Musawi, in 1992, and got the far
more formidable Hassan
Nasrallah as his successor.
It also got the revenge bombing
of the Israeli embassy in
Argentina, which killed 29 and
wounded 242.
The leaders who get killed are
replaced by others of equal
competence, the cycle of revenge
gets another push, and Israel’s
reputation as a responsible state
takes another beating. True,
Israel does nothing that the
United States, Russia and several
other great powers have not
done when fighting
insurgencies, but they are
shielded by their great-power
status. Like it or not, there is one
law for the great powers and
another for the others.
Smaller countries are expected to
obey the rules. Many Israelis
think they don’t need to worry
about this because everyone
hates them anyway, but the
wiser ones realise that the state’s
security and prosperity still
depend heavily on the goodwill
of Western countries. Actions like
the Dubai operation, when they
become public, erode that
goodwill. But the wiser Israelis

Advertisements

About qualandar

I am a lawyer and social activist based in Delhi the capital of India. I report the nuances of our culture and life.
Aside | This entry was posted in Analysis and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s