Thursday, 25 February 2010

Israel Matzav: A skillfully planned assassination

A skillfully planned assassination

With all of the fuss over the false passports that were used, Samuel Segev reminds us that there is a lot to be admired about the skillfully planned assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

The most important lesson is the penetration of Hamas, Syrian and Iranian security services. From information gathered from the media and other sources, it's clear that the killers visited Dubai several times in the past and knew all the security arrangements in the country. They were aware, of course, of the videos and the sophisticated monitoring equipment in the airport and the various hotels. Hence, they took into consideration the possibility that their passport photos could be exposed.

But they trusted the skills of the professionals who specialize in creating fictional identities and different looks. The use of the false passports was dictated by the nature of the operation's site. Dubai, a flourishing open city, has a border policy that granted the U.S., the European Union and other countries visa waivers and other facilities. Because of its location, Dubai is often used by foreign intelligence services as a "listening post" to Iran.

Like most of the Arab countries, Dubai doesn't recognize Israel. However, like other countries in the Persian Gulf, Dubai is part of the western anti-terror coalition and as such allows low-level contacts with Israel. Israeli tourists carrying foreign passports and on their way to Asian destinations often stop at Dubai airport and frequent the magnificent duty-free stores that are considered among the cheapest in the world.

And the bottom line?

An objective analysis of the Dubai operation would lead to the conclusion that the benefits of Mabhouh's killing outweigh the political cost. Despite the European demand for Israeli explanations, no one really believes that there will be any diplomatic consequences. All countries use fake passports in their anti-terror struggle and all will continue to use them in future.

There is also no operational damage. All 11 members of the team are safe and all will continue to be active, although with a slight change in their disguise.

As the number of suspects increases to a point where it seems like half of Dubai was in on the killing, all I can think of is this.

Let's go to the videotape.

How many of you remember when tapes looked like that?

By the way, for those who were wondering, al-Mabhouh was traveling on an Iraqi passport that was arranged by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Hmmm.

Israel Matzav: A skillfully planned assassination

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