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Dubai killing awakes ghosts of assassinations past

Jeremy Bowen assesses the fall-out in the Middle East from the alleged assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh by Mossad agents in a luxury Dubai hotel.
"Shame you are not filming on a Friday," said a local resident.
Jimmy, the BBC cameraman, was trying to get some decent pictures of the Dubai skyline, but there was a haze that was not helping.
"Why Friday?" we asked.
"Well, there is less building on a Friday," he said, "so the air is not so dusty."
Even with Dubai's well-advertised economic problems there is still a lot of construction going on, by the standards of most places.
This is my first proper trip to Dubai since the late 90s and it is unrecognisable.
Back in the 1960s, according to my uncle who was here with the British army, the runway lights at Dubai airport were barrels of burning tar.


The long war, the century or so of conflict between Arabs and Jews, cannot be defeated by property developers
When I was here first, on my way to Afghanistan in the late 80s, a fairly compact city was surrounded by a sweep of open desert, which just is not there any more.
They must have poured tens of millions of tonnes of concrete to build this sprawling city state.
As I write, I can see a burnt orange sun setting behind the Burj Khalifa, the new skyscraper that is the world's highest building. It is extraordinarily tall.
Acres of gardens and golf courses in Dubai are green and lush, in a place with almost no rain, thanks to hugely expensive desalination plants.
The climate is wonderful right now, but in the summer it is appallingly hot and humid.
Never mind, everywhere is air-conditioned, especially the indoor ski slope, where they make real indoor snow and have a black run for experts.
'Unobtainable dream'
Love it or hate it, they have tamed nature to build an incredible city.
Perhaps they never thought they could tame the Middle East too, though minds that could conceive the Burj Khalifa are not short of ambition.
But if not tame it, they were hoping to insulate this place from its dark, violent ways.
The assassination of the Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh proves that was one unobtainable dream.

It is assumed Mossad is behind Mr Mabhouh's death
The long war, the century or so of conflict between Arabs and Jews, cannot be defeated by property developers.
Its capacity to generate and export violence is unparalleled in today's world.
Was Mr Mabhouh killed by Mossad, the Israeli secret service?
I do not know for certain. But there is circumstantial evidence that he was.
Bloody hands
And he was an enemy of Israel, according to the press there, involved with arms shipments into Gaza.
In the kind of phrase Israelis use, he had Jewish blood on his hands.
Hamas gave him a hero's funeral.
Mossad has form. Assassination has been one of its specialities since the time that Israel was killing Nazis in the 1950s.
If Israel was behind the assassination, then its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might well be troubled by the ghosts of assassinations past.
In 1997, during his first stint as prime minister, he authorised a Mossad hit on an up-and-coming man in Hamas, a Palestinian called Khaled Meshaal.
Two Mossad agents approached Mr Meshaal as he was walking down a street in Amman, the Jordanian capital.

They sprayed poison into his ear. But they bungled their escape and they were captured. They were carrying false Canadian passports.
King Hussein, who had not long since signed a peace treaty with Israel, was outraged. For him, it was not just a breach of trust.
Rumours started that he was somehow complicit in the attack. With Mr Meshaal close to death, King Hussein demanded that Israel gave his doctors the formula for the poison and the antidote.
To get their two captured agents back, the Israelis were forced to release dozens of Jordanian and Palestinian prisoners.
They included the spiritual leader of Hamas sheikh Ahmed Yassin. He was a thorn in Israel's side until he too was assassinated in an air strike in Gaza in 2003
Khaled Meshaal survived and is now the most senior political figure in Hamas, living behind heavy security in Damascus.
Netanyahu's 'fiasco'
So it was not a good time for Mr Netanyahu.
King Hussein refused to see him when he went to Amman to apologise and the then head of Mossad was forced to resign.
Israelis viewed the affair as a costly fiasco. It was one of the factors that contributed to a comprehensive defeat of Mr Netanyahu in an election two years later.

Benjamin Netanyahu lost an election after a Mossad killing
But there is one very significant difference between then and now.
In Amman in 1997 the would-be assassins were captured, along with their false Canadian papers.
This time round the alleged assassins' faces have been published, along with their assumed names.
If they are Israeli agents, or freelance killers, then their identities have been blown.
But they are not in custody and that makes it much harder to prove that Israel did it.
If Israel had nothing to do with the killing, or with the theft of identities from its own citizens for the alleged assassins' passports, then Mr Netanyahu, now in his second term, has nothing to worry about.
But if Mossad is responsible - and that is the assumption in Israel as well as here in Dubai - then he has some sweating to do in the next few weeks.


Click to view image: '595cd67e3dd2-_47313724__47209035_mabhouhafp226b1.jpg'

Click to view image: '00579f6a0a20-_47313724__47209035_mabhouhafp226b1.jpg'

Added: Feb-25-2010 
By: BigDaddyHarrison
In:
Afghanistan, LiveLeaks
Tags: Dubai, Assassination, Reminder, Consequences, For, Israel
Views: 8646 | Comments: 21 | Votes: 1 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 1 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
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  • PROOF! It does the body good. Got any? Nope? Didn't think so.

    Posted Feb-25-2010 By 

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  • Comment of user 'gregory_peckory' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • Comment of user 'OwenHiggins' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • He wasn't killed in the open. He was killed in his hotel room and found in the morning with the door locked from the inside apparently dead from high blood pressure. It would have been a totally sweet op if the Dubai authorities hadn't been so thorough and spotted some suspiscious surveilance teams that were traced back to forged documents cloned from Israeli foreign passport holders.

      Posted Feb-25-2010 By 

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    • All true, but there is still no PROOF that mossad was behind it.

      Posted Feb-25-2010 By 

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    • Ah the implausible deniability defense.

      Don't care really, it's my working assumption that Israel is opportunistically killing terrorists around the globe where and when they can. I heartily approve.

      Posted Feb-25-2010 By 

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    • Comment of user 'gregory_peckory' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • A dissident is not a terrorist, this is why I don't follow you down your brain damaged path of illogic and bad analogies. If there was someone in the USA in a terrorist organization funneling arms to murderers abroad, NK or Venezuela wouldn't need to execute them in a five star hotel room. The USA would arrest and prosecute them without the need for extra-judicial intervention.

      Posted Feb-25-2010 By 

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  • can't watch or read anything by this guy Bowen - for years he has been well known as an anti semite and a Palestinian terrorist sympathiser - a bad egg, always was and probably always will be.

    Posted Feb-25-2010 By 

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  • Forgot the link:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/8524170.stm

    Posted Feb-25-2010 By 

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  • You always break a few eggs when making an omelet.

    Posted Feb-25-2010 By 

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  • Screw the UK. The Aussies are on the job. Lets hope they have the fortitude of the Kiwis.

    Posted Feb-25-2010 By 

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  • Great history, fascinating.

    Frankly this is what Mossad is supposed to do, and NOT GET CAUGHT. I'm surprised that the mission had such a big footprint but clearly this was intended to look like natural causes.

    Whatever happened to placing C4 in cellphones? More hits like that please Mossad.

    Posted Feb-25-2010 By 

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