Robert Fisk’s recent provocative column claiming that Britain may have colluded with the Mossad in the Dubai assassination by providing genuine British passports (rather than the “clones” that are claimed) has been borne out in one small particular.
The Daily Mail reports that the Mossad notified British intelligence before it carried out the al-Mabouh assassination that the killers would be using British passports. But what astonishes is the following absolute temerity of the Israeli attitude:
According to the paper’s source, the [Mossad] tip-off was not a request for permission to use British passports but more a “courtesy call” to let the security services know “a situation” might result from the operation. The Mossad man said Israeli intelligence chiefs understood British authorities would have to “slap them on the wrist” and added:
“The British government has to be seen to be going through the motions.”
If this is true, either the Mossad is the most chutzpadik intelligence agency in the world or it was doing what Britain wanted it to do in killing al-Mabouh. If the latter, this might explain why Dubai informed the British of the passport use and waited in vain for six days for a reply, after which Dubai conducted a press conference and released the information to the public. That silence and delay sure begin to smell fishy.
Another question is: did MI6 keep the Mossad tip from government ministers or did it share it with them? If the former, then the intelligence agency looks even worse and has deeply embarrassed its civilian masters; if the latter then the ministers could be in deep doo-doo as they have stated publicly that they knew nothing of the operation till they were informed of it by Dubai.
The foreign office called Israeli ambassador on the carpet and asked him to cooperate fully with the British investigation. The Daily Mail says pointedly that he “refused to do so.” And yet somehow the Mossad can claim that it’s intelligence cooperation with Britain will not be jeopardized by this muck-up? More effrontery or pure bluffery?
The Daily Mail story also reveals further details about the trap set by the Mossad for al-Mabouh and Palestinian participation in it. If the story is true it will further damage Fatah’s reputation:
Intelligence sources say al-Mabhouh was lured to a meeting in Dubai by two men who had worked with him in Hamas in Gaza. He did not realise they had defected to the more moderate Fatah, bitter enemies of Hamas, and were secretly working with the Israelis.
This would mean that Fatah in some capacity colluded with Israel in order to kill this man. It would mean that Hamas’ efforts to root out Israeli collaborators were justified. It would mean that Fatah betrayed a fellow Palestinian to an enemy of the Palestinians. What possible legitimate purpose (short of cold-blooded revenge) could such collusion serve unless Fatah is completely bankrupt both as a political and national movement?
Dubai’s police chief has asserted he is “99% if not 100% sure” of Mossad’s culpability and said Dubai would call for the arrest of Meir Dagan, the Mossad’s director. In Israel, a Haaretz correspondent has already called for Dagan’s resignation. However, this is unlikely as Dagan is considered by Israelis to be a superb spook doing precisely what the country wants him to do. Here is how Sheera Frenkel characterized his perception in Israel:
“Mossad have renewed the aura that the name Mossad used to generate in the region,” Alon Ben David , an Israeli intelligence analyst, told Israeli radio…
In other words, the problem isn’t Dagan per se, it’s the very national security society and right wing government which placed him in the position to begin with.
Wired provides an interesting critique of the Dubai operation from the perspective of a former Mossad agent. What’s fascinating about this report is it is the only one I’ve read approaching the killing from within the Mossad and with a intelligence agent’s perspective. Among other things Victor Ostrovsky says is:
…The Mossad was likely surprised by how the Dubai authorities pieced everything together so well and publicized the video and passport photos of the suspects.
“Nobody thought that somebody was going to piece that all together,” he said. “After all, who really cares about a guy in Hamas? There’s a perception that . . . the Arab world doesn’t really like Palestinians and that everyone would say it’s just another terrorist killed, great. Nobody’s going to make a fuss.”
He said he’s surprised that Israel would have risked such an operation while the government is in the midst of negotiations to release Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who is reportedly being held prisoner in Gaza by Hamas since June 2006.
“It shocks that they would do [the assassination] now,” Ostrovsky said. “But that’s Netanyahu in my opinion.”
In other words, Bibi doesn’t give a crap about Shalit and is far more motivated by steely hatred of Hamas and any other Arab entity that stands in his way. And in an L.A. Times interview, Ostrovsky amplifies his view that the operation was sloppily executed and explains why this might have happened:
“It’s a rush to action which is meant to show off the long arm of Israeli justice,” he said.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.