Monday, March 1, 2010

The Dubai Affair

I recently came across an article in the Wall Street Journal which was authored by former CIA field agent cum media celebrity Robert Baer, titled: “A Perfectly Framed Assassination in Dubai”(February 27th, 2010). After reading this, I was still not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the Israeli spy service, Mossad, was the entity responsible for the murder of Hamas militant Mr. Mabhouh, but I do concede Baer made some good points in his piece and he did choose, however unwittingly, what I think is an apt title.

After reading the article, I came to the conclusion that considerable doubt should exist in the mind of any news reader (based solely on what is available from the corporate media) and commentators alike as to whether Israel is actually responsible for this latest crime.

In order to play the devils advocate in this case, as I am no fan of Israeli foreign policy, I dusted off my VCR and sat down to watch an old VHS copy of “The Sword of Gideon” and tried to think like an Israeli spymaster. This may seem like a strange methodology for better understanding world affairs but whenever I lose something, like my keys for example, I always think, "If I were a set of keys, where would I be hiding?", and before long I end up finding them jammed under the couch cushions or in my coat pocket. Without fail, that method always works.

So, here are some of the questions that came to mind as I munched on popcorn and watched Steven Baur and Michael York blowing up bad guys:

If the super-sleuthing and formidable array of biometric devices, CCTV cameras, cell phone tracking and other surveillance tools subsequently used by the Dubai detectives to discover the identity of the alleged assassins represented a “normal” state of readiness and capability in Dubai, is it likely that senior planners within the Mossad would be aware of this?

Yes. Mossad would probably have several contacts working in the Dubai security industry, police headquarters, intelligence agencies and within the specific departments such as the hotel or airport where these cameras and other security devices were deployed.

Is it also likely, that Mossad planners would assume that the Dubai investigators would treat Mr. Mabhouh’s death as a possible homicide, or in the event that evidence of foul play was discovered fairly quickly (as it appears to have been done in this case as evidenced by the immediate post-death investigation, subsequent identification of the hit team and reported discovery of a fast acting muscle relaxant used on the victim), launch a full blown investigation which would have the potential to uncover the CCTV evidence which we have seen on TV?

Yes. I fail to understand how it would have been difficult to foresee this outcome in light of Dubai’s security preparations and experience in investigating other high profile assassinations on its soil.

Is it also likely, in the event of the above scenario, that Mossad leaders could anticipate that the fraudulent passports and cheesy tennis gear would be discovered and that this discovery would lead to some very negative PR and political ramifications?

Yes, not much imagination would have been required to expect this outcome.

Would senior spy planners and political leaders be aware that such ramifications would include a reversal of support for Israel among several key allies; as was demonstrated during the recent vote on the UN General Assembly resolution demanding that Israel and the Palestinians investigate possible war crimes committed during the assault on Gaza that was launched in December 2008? Would they also be aware of the danger posed to the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who is being held by Hamas while a proposed swap deal is being decided upon or be cautious of the risk posed to the Israeli dual-nationals who’s identities were borrowed by the attackers?

Yes, these political calculations and safety concerns would have been discussed and heavily debated I bet.

Now, in light of this, I asked myself a few more questions.

Would these same decision makers willingly endanger the lives of Israeli citizens while also risking the predictable, negative and far reaching political blowback from this international incident in order to take out an apparently interchangeable and relatively insignificant (compared to top echelon leadership) Hamas figure in this embarrassing, high profile fashion?

Possible I admit, if it were based on some tactical or strategic awareness that the average news reader does not have access too, but based on what I see reported in the media, this is unlikely.

This begs the next question; despite some notable failures attributed to Mossad in the past, is it not fair to say that this fearsome agency, in light of its successful track record in these matters overall, would be capable of planning and executing a successful mission while extricating the killers from the crime scene in a more covert and less theatrical, amateurish and bumbling fashion?

Likely. It’s possible this was a last minute job, with faulty intel, hasty planning, a group of green operators who have never worked together before or bad command and control from the Vienna safe house, which might explain the screw ups, but even then, it seems likely to me that Mossad would perform better.

There’s a great scene in the film Gangs of New York when my favorite character Walter “Monk” McGin slams Amsterdam Vallon against the wall and leans in and whispers an Irish proverb in Gaelic,

An té nach bhfuil laidir, ní foláir dó bheith glic

Then he repeats in English, “If you're not strong you'd better be smart...Now I don't know if you're being too clever or too dumb, but whichever it is just remember this much...”

The wisdom inherent in that Irish Proverb reminds me of the Mossads former and still unofficial motto, which originated from the Bible (proverbs 24:6), "be-tachbūlōt ta`aseh lekhā milchāmāh (Hebrew: בתחבולות תעשה לך מלחמה‎)". In English this means: "For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory" and in common parlance, it's referred to as: "By way of deception, thou shalt do war".

If Mossad was responsible, despite all this intelligence and awareness among Israeli plotters, than it is possible that Mossad wanted to send a very public message in spite of of the risks.

But if that’s the case, they could have sent an equally loud message by taking out the target in a less grandiose way, so all the “cloak and dagger” theater seems a bit over the top and not in keeping with their motto or Mossads historical reliance on more effective subterfuge, not withstanding the odd well publicized failure, which has never been similar to this kind of circus.

Mossad operators are considered to be the best in the world at what they do and I’m sure they did not gain such a formidable reputation by being stupid.

Is it possible then that this was a “false flag” operation orchestrated by another foreign intelligence agency or state sanctioned group?

This is possible and any investigator worth his salt would be looking at this angle I suspect. If Israel wasn't responsible than they will want answers too, so that may explain why UK investigators are on the ground in Israel and they landed there without so much as a whimper of protest from their hosts.

I would also bet that any investigation would want to examine other possibilities as well, in the event that evidence is brought to light that points the finger more conclusively towards Mossad; such as the nature of the intelligence (if it could be discovered) which led to the MOD Squad being deployed in the first place and what the known status of Dubai's security arrangements happened to be prior to this attack.

The point is, Israel has already been convicted (or lauded) in the court of public opinion and I think that's wrong, as there is enough reasonable doubt to suspend any solid judgment until all the “available” facts have been presented. Despite everything I've written, I would not be surprised if Mossad was responsible for this execution and in that case the perpetrators should be handed over to Interpol and tried in the ICC but I think its only wise to examine all sides of this incident before leaping to any conclusions.

Already politicians and talking heads are falling all over themselves condemning Israel or pointing the finger at Mossad for something it may not be responsible for, which seems absurd, when you think Israel already has enough blood on its hands over the numerous war crimes carried out by the US supported Israeli war machine in the occupied territories, so why not start prosecuting people over those crimes instead of focusing on one act of skull duggery (which happens to be common practice among all the nations now “outraged” over the use of their national passports).

Something doesn't smell right about this whole “Dubai Affair” and I’m waiting for all the facts to come in, if they do at all, before announcing my verdict. Court is in recess!

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