Several interesting developments in the Dubai assassination investigation. Al Arabiya reports that police authorities in Dubai claim that they have both DNA and fingerprint evidence providing 100% certainty of the identity of at least one of the killers. The report doesn’t make clear precisely what this means: does it know the real identity? Or does it have usable evidence which it can use to find the real killer? Even if the latter is the case, Dubai can now make a case for demanding DNA swabs from the Mossad to verify that its agents were not the killers. Israel of course will refuse.
Yuval Tal Interview
Clayton Swisher writes a strong post arguing the case for U.S. involvement in the investigation as financial dealings here enabled the killing. Turns out, a former officer in an elite IDF unit runs a financial services firm, Payoneer, in the U.S. and he arranged for the credit cards used fraudulently by the killers.
Payoneer also has a research and development centre based in Tel Aviv. (I find it mildly amusing that Payoneer is pimped out on the Birthright Israel website).
I also find the Payoneer connection interesting given that its CEO is Yuval Tal, a former Israeli special forces commando. Mr Tal did not exactly conceal his prior affiliations when he appeared on Fox News during the 2006 Lebanon war. He opined then that “this is a war that Israel cannot afford to lose”.
If Tal or his Payoneer firm are in any way involved in the conspiracy to help a foreign intelligence service (like, say providing Mossad operatives with credit cards), he may soon find himself in his own battle with little prospects of winning – in a US courtroom.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the lead agency with statutory authority and responsibilities for investigating foreign espionage activities on US soil. It’s a job they take seriously and with a proven record of not shying away from the numerous instances when America’s special ally played foul.
Swisher suggests grounds for the investigation and how it might proceed:
As an initial inquiry, I imagine case agents will subpoena all financial records associated with the fraudulently issued credit cards. This would include the original credit card applications, which requires such things as a delivery address (to mail the card to), social security numbers, dates of birth, and employment information.
If the applications were made on paper, then the documents may contain all manner of evidence, from handwriting samples to fingerprints. There will be a similar trail to pore over if the applications were made over the phone or electronically via computer.
I also smell money laundering, as the money was supposedly dumped into prepaid accounts to conceal its purpose and origination. So US investigators may even want to tap in on the US treasury department’s crack financial investigator, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN).
Then Swisher asks the $64,000 Question:
It’s not clear if the FBI is silently participating or if its officials are fence-sitting.
If it’s the latter, then they may want to consider the following: if a foreign national was murdered on US soil with the help of credit cards issued in the Emirates, what sort of co-operation would they demand?
If you watch the video featuring Tal explaining his product you realize that the cards he offered would’ve been perfect for the Mossad since they were pre-paid and presumably would decrease the amount of complications for them in travel by their agents from country to country. Even more strangely, Tal boasts that the cards are perfect for “publishers” or companies which have advertising affiliates since the cards can be “branded” and every affiliate or employee can have a card with the company’s logo emblazoned on it. Why not have a Mossad corporate credit card courtesy of Payoneer? Where is a good political cartoonist when I need one? To help you along, here’s the Mossad logo: get to work!
There has been a deafening silence in the U.S. media on this subject. It may not be a coincidence that Swisher published his post at Al Jazeera English. Aside from reporting a U.S. connection, I’m not aware of any media outlet which has quoted any analyst or expert suggesting that the FBI get to work and do its job; or that the Justice Department and Obama administration demand that our financial system not be exploited on behalf of Israeli state terrorism.
UPDATE: I just discovered this new report in the Wall Street Journal which raises this tantalizing prospect:
Part of the focus of the probe, the person familiar with the situation said, is to determine whether the cards were issued and used in this way, and if so, where the funds that would have been funneled into the cards originated.
Realizing of course that Mossad will have done its best to conceal the origin of these funds, I wonder whether the FBI and Dubai will have any success tracing them.
Also surprising is this judgment by the Wall Street Journal reporter:
Israel’s international standing has suffered. As the uproar over fraudulent passports grows, some analysts are starting to question whether Israel, if it was involved, made a strategic blunder despite a tactical victory.
When a markedly pro-Israel paper like WSJ starts raising such doubts, you know the Mossad’s in trouble.
Haaretz reports the strange news that the Mossad apparently photoshopped the passport photos of the agents:
…A Haaretz probe discovered that the passport photographs of the agents who assassinated Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai were doctored so the agents would not be identified.
The discovery casts doubt on claims that the espionage agency that carried out last month’s hit on the senior Hamas operative committed grave errors.
Various features of the people in the photographs, such as eye color or the line of a lip, were changed – slightly enough so as not arouse suspicion at passport control, but still enough that the real agent could not be recognized.
I find this report, written by Haaretz’s military correspondent (and someone likely to have Mossad sources and a vested interest in showcasing them), dubious in some ways. How do they know the photos would entirely prevent you from identifying the original killer? On what basis can they make that statement? I don’t see how altering the line of a lip or eye color would render positive identification impossible. And I wonder if you can discover an image was photoshopped whether you can also reconstitute the original image by stripping away the layers of photo editing.
The second sentence of the passage is typical knee-jerk Mossad apologetics, which is why I noted the possibility of the Mossad fighting back in this story against the almost universal disparagement it has suffered in the world media. For example, I find it odd that Avi Issacharoff would say that a Haaretz “probe” discovered the photoshopping. What kind of probe? What made him think to mount such a probe? What was the nature of the photo alternation? How was it done? All questions unanswered by this story.
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- The Dubai-Payoneer connection (warincontext.org)