Mossad: murder, mistakes and myth

One of the comments I have seen a number of times across a number of different news sites is that it the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai last month couldn’t have been carried out by Mossad because the assassins made too many mistakes.

This belief in Mossad’s infallibility, however, is largely myth, built up by spy novels, films and TV shows. Instead, like most intelligence agencies, Mossad are thuggish and persistent rather than particularly brilliant. Sure, there’s been a number of well-publicised successes in hunting down “legitimate” targets over a long period of time—firstly Nazi war criminals and later terrorists (and the odd national security threat like supergun inventor Gerald Bull)—but there were just as many mistakes along the way including wrong targets, botched jobs, and being caught using foreign passports.

In the Dubai assassination, there is also an underlying racist assumption at work in the argument that Mossad couldn’t have been involved, namely that there is no way a bunch of Israeli uber-spys could be rumbled by a rabble of uncivilised, tent-dwelling camel jockeys.

Let’s for a moment, however, assume that Mossad was responsible and ask ourselves what mistakes were actually made by these assassins.

Well, arguably there was only one and that was underestimating the local police, both in terms of ability and resources. When the Dubai police refused to believe that al-Mabhoub’s death was from natural causes and investigated further, then the secrecy of the entire operation started to unravel very quickly. This point is also taken up by Time:

It would appear that whoever was responsible underestimated Dubai’s security capability. The city-state used sophisticated computer programs to quickly sift through its massive pool of security-camera footage and pinpoint the movements and travel documents of the alleged killers. More embarrassingly, the Dubai authorities are claiming that the hit team stole the identities of Israeli dual-national citizens, and traveled into Dubai using false British, Irish and French passports.

If the Dubai police had accepted the death, then all of the operatives would have disappeared back into the woodwork and the people whose identities where used on the forged passports would have been none the wiser.

Copies of fake passports used in assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh

So, to finish up, a couple of thoughts on what this Dubai incident revealed to us about Mossad spycraft.

Firstly, stealing the identities of unsuspecting Israelis with dual passports is a tactic I suspect Mossad has used successfully for years. Now it’s been busted, can they use it again?

Secondly, only forgeries of old-style passports were used in the operation, indicating that new generation passports containing biometric data might be posing a few problems for spy agencies.

Finally, if we can believe that the assassination team was comprised of 26 members, then Mossad have a bigger travel budget than the national soccer team.

Observations of Tony Blair at the Iraq War Inquiry

I dropped into the live webcast of Tony Blair being questioned by the Iraq Inquiry. Only intending to watch for a few minutes, I was still there two hours later. After a somewhat nervous start, perhaps due to the fact that he no longer engages in the cut and thrust of British parliamentary question time, Blair’s old zealotry was soon on full display.

What quickly became evident here was the Continue reading

Is the re-gentrification of a city a form of colonisation?

Resistance to colonisation is now almost universally regarded as a noble struggle, where the native underdog fights against a more powerful, more advanced, often rapacious, always unwelcome invader. The colonisers, with more resources, including the ability to control Continue reading

Politics of Fear: 1. Minarets: 0.

The people have spoken, the results from the referendum are in, and the Swiss have voted to ban the construction of minarets in their country.

We pointed out yesterday that the referendum in Switzerland calling for this ban was going to be a close call, but that the proposal was likely to be rejected. Now the votes have been counted, we can see  how wrong the opinion polls were  Continue reading

Imagine if … Fox News existed in 1938

Transcript of Fox News “Fox and Friends” for 30th September 1938

Today’s Special Topic: Chamberlain, The Munich Agreement and AppeasementFox '38

Gretchen Carlson: Here today, we’ve assembled a special panel to look at some momentous news from Great Britain where the Conservative Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain has just returned from his historic meeting with German Chancellor Adolf Hitler. I’m joined by William Kristol, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limburgh and of course my co-host Brian Kilmeade. Bill, just to get us started, what’s your take on Prime Minister Chamberlain as a leader?

Bill O’Reilly: Well, he’s a leader the world can respect. Chamberlain is not one of these liberals like Roosevelt who is always talking about protecting the immigrants and trade unions. Just quietly, I suspect that democrat FDR is homosexual and will soon be legalising Continue reading

The Governator Strikes Back

Take a look at this letter sent out by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office. Fairly innocuous, right?

Now, take a closer look and this time imagine you’re a Continue reading

Turkish coffee banned for being … Turkish!

Remember how French fries were relabelled Freedom Fries in the USA after the French refused to join Bush’s incredibly well thought out invasion of Iraq. Well, the puerile pettiness of micropolitics Continue reading