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CIA Offered Intelligence Enabling Israeli Assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabouh

dahi khalfan dubai

Dubai police chief, Dahi Khalfan, duped by CIA into betraying Mahmoud al-Mabouh

An independent blogger in the United Arab Emirates writes (Hebrew and English) that the CIA provided critical intelligence about Mahmoud al-Mabouh enabling the Mossad to assassinate him in Dubai in 2010.    It did so since the victim was Hamas’ chief arms intermediary with Iran.  The inside information came from the territory’s police chief, Dhahi Khalfan, who passed it to the CIA without knowing it would be given to the Mossad.  As Iran is an enemy of the Gulf States, including UAE, Khalfan thought he was doing a favor to the American ally, who shared his country’s disdain for Iran.

Khalfan had not intended for the information to pass outside the realm of the CIA, but the agency double-crossed him.  Here is a translation from Arabic of the information concerning this incident:

“Dhahi became famous after the assassination of Hamas’ martyr, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, by elements of the Zionist Mossad in 2010…[He] personally provided the cover for the assassination, as he was commissioned by the CIA, five weeks before to investigate…Mabhouh.  Within three weeks he gave the CIA a complete file including account numbers used by Mabhouh, the details of his movements and activities in Dubai, and his places of residence. … Due to Dhahi’s extreme stupidity, he did not know he assisted in the assassination of Mabhouh, so he was surprised by [it].”

Without this critical CIA involvement, al-Mabouh could not have been murdered and the Mossad’s most embarrassing scandal in decades might’ve been averted.  Unfortunately, until now the CIA has not had to pay the piper for facilitating murder.  Nor has Barack Obama, president at the time of the murder.

Just after the assassination, there were media reports that two of the Mossad agents involved fled Dubai for America and that they’d used U.S. based Payoneer payment cards as part of the operation.  The CEO of Payoneer is a former senior officer in IDF special forces and presumably associated with Israeli intelligence operations.  At the time, I wonder why the Mossad would be so brazen as to implicate the U.S. in the killing in such a way.  But given how the killing was organized, this now makes perfect sense.  It appears it might’ve almost been a joint U.S.-Israeli operation.

It appears al-Mabouh became a victim of the covert war between Israel and the U.S. and Iran, which was raging at the time.  This was also the period in which the NSA was developing Stuxnet and Flame viruses to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program.  As a major Hamas arms merchant dealing with Iran, the CIA and Mossad wanted to do everything possible to tweak Iran (and Hamas).  That made al-Mabouh an inviting target.  But the Mossad’s hubris and Khalfan’s hurt pride at being duped by the CIA, turned the tables on the assassins and led to their exposure.  Perhaps now the CIA has learned a lesson and will honor commitments it makes to Arab security officials like Khalfan.

We should not be surprised by the CIA’s actions.  In the early 1960s, obsessed by the mania of ‘Communist subversion’ in the Third World, the CIA recruited a double agent within the ranks of the African National Congress.  On the day he was arrested by the South African police, they knew where Nelson Mandela was, when he would arrive there, what he was wearing, practically what he ate for breakfast.  The South Africans could not have done it without the help of our trusty CIA, ever on the watch for Communist subversion.  The U.S., though it allowed Mandela to enter the U.S. in the 1990s, did not finally remove him from the terror watch list until 2008.

The problem with intelligence agencies is that they’re responding to the crisis of yesterday without realizing the crisis of tomorrow is staring them in the face.  Instead of Communist subversion, the U.S. should’ve been trying to come to terms with liberation movements like the ANC sweeping the Third World.  Instead of murdering Hamas agents, the U.S. should be coming to terms with Palestinian nationalism (including Hamas) and its legitimate claims.

Though the Mossad does a fine job of creating mayhem wherever it operates, the CIA deserves credit where it’s due for facilitating it, as in this wretched case.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • PersianAdvocate March 31, 2014, 11:02 AM

    Letter to the Editor

    Dear Mr. Silverstein,

    The “Gulf” has not, does not, and will never exist. It’s always been the “Persian Gulf”. Please don’t contribute to this hostile strategy against Iranian heritage.


  • Sara March 31, 2014, 5:25 PM

    Why do you always refer to the killing of terrorists as murder, while using passive language for its Jewish victims? I remember regarding the butchering of the Fogel family in their home, you gave the title “Death comes to Itamar” and never posted any pictures of them.

    • Richard Silverstein March 31, 2014, 6:00 PM

      @ Sara: So al-Mabouh wasn’t “murdered?” What was done to him then? Did they tickle his toes?

      As for other questions you asked, stay on topic. That was not on topic.

      • Daniel F. March 31, 2014, 10:10 PM

        Yes, he was murdered……..Habah l’hargecha hashkem l’hargo.

      • Shoshana March 31, 2014, 11:58 PM

        al-Mabouh lived by the sword and he died by the sword.
        Who even give a crap?

        • Richard Silverstein April 1, 2014, 12:17 AM

          @ Shoshana: Horsecrap. He no more lived by the sword than Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir & Yitzhak Rabin did. If al Mabouh deserved to be assassinated then any Israeli terrorist (past, present or future) deserves the same fate. As for how he died–no, he didn’t die by the sword. He died from chemical agents perfected at Israel’s chemical & biological weapons complex at Ness Ziona.

          As for who gave a crap: I did, and Interpol, and Dubai, and those countries who expelled Mossad station chiefs when they discovered their citizens passports had been cloned to accomplish the assassination.

          You didn’t answer my question: was he murdered or not? Answer this question directly.

  • Ari Greenfield March 31, 2014, 8:11 PM

    While this sounds interesting, it doesn’t really make much sense or fit with the known timeline of events released by the Dubai investigators. This says Khalfan was recruited by CIA as an asset just 5 weeks before the hit and provided key intel a mere 3 weeks prior to the hit, but Dubai’s own investigation turned up evidence that Mahmoud was tailed for months leading up to the hit, including at least 3 previous trips to Dubai. During one of those prior trips they almost succeeded in killing him but the poison did not work as intended and only made him ill for a short time. It also doesn’t make sense for the CIA to burn one of its precious few Arab assets for a guy of Mahmoud’s stature when the group that wanted him dead appeared capable and well on their way to achieving said goal.

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