The Dubai assassination and the “war on terror”

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Many courageous Jewish-Americans and Israelis have stood up to denounce the corrupt link between American and Israeli elites and the influence of Zioncons on US foreign policy, a policy that prolongs the agony in the Middle East. With a Congress and media dominated by Zionist forces, their work is not likely to bear fruit any time soon.

By Patrick O’Connor

Dateline: 2 March 2010  [print_link]

Passport photos of 6 of the 27 Mossad-connected operatives who took part in the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai.>>>

While the Israeli government has refused to confirm or deny any involvement, its intelligence agency, Mossad, is widely understood to be directly responsible for the Dubai operation. The Obama administration has maintained a strict silence over the affair, while the governments of Britain, Australia, France, Germany and Ireland have merely issued pro forma protests over the doctoring of their passports. None has condemned Mabhouh’s murder.

The assassination was a cold-blooded operation, planned down to the last detail. According to Dubai police, 27 men and women were involved in the preparation which culminated in Mabhouh being injected with a muscle relaxant drug, succinylcholine, then suffocated with a pillow. The killers reportedly left behind medicine for high blood pressure in order to give the initial appearance of a natural death, hung a “do not disturb” card on their victim’s hotel room door and fled Dubai before the authorities were notified after Mabhouh’s wife was unable to telephone her husband.

Israel has a long record of tracking down and murdering its enemies around the world, and in the last decade has waged a systematic assassination campaign against the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank and Gaza.

The more or less open acceptance by Washington and its allies of Mossad’s latest atrocity is because similar methods now form a central component of the “war on terror”. As well as being subject to indefinite detention without trial, rendition and torture, individuals identified as a threat to the security of the US state are routinely executed in countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen. True to his campaign pledge to escalate US military operations in Pakistan and Central Asia, President Barack Obama has signed off on drone air bombings in the AfPak theatre which typically kill civilians in addition to the selected target. US troops, intelligence operatives, and their proxies on the ground also continue to hunt down and kill Iraqis and Afghans involved in armed resistance activities against the foreign occupation of their countries.

It is now taken for granted in ruling circles internationally that the Central Intelligence Agency and allied intelligence agencies, including Mossad, have the right to act as judge, jury and executioner against those alleged to be involved in terrorist activities. The CIA’s murderous activities during the Cold War—including the 1961 assassination of Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba and attempts on the life of Cuban President Fidel Castro—provoked international outrage. In 1976, following a wave of public opposition after revelations of CIA assassination plots internationally, President Gerald Ford issued an executive order barring the CIA from directly carrying out assassinations or contracting them out to others. But now there are no such qualms about “targeted killing” and few restrictions are placed on the CIA and military. US Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair revealed last month that there are defined “policy and legal procedures” allowing the assassination of American citizens throughout the world.

Every national government aligned with Washington is culpable. The diplomatic protests registered by Britain, Australia, France, Germany and Ireland over the abuse of their passports are nothing but a grotesque charade. One need only ask the question—how would the reaction have differed had Iranian intelligence agents carried out an assassination in another country using forged European and Australian passports? Instead of diplomatic niceties there would be a drumbeat for full-scale war.

None of the national governments involved has any interest in pursuing the incident with the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. All are complicit in the Zionist state’s war crimes. Britain, Australia and Germany were among just 16 countries which voted with the US and Israel last November against a UN General Assembly resolution which endorsed the Goldstone Report finding that Israel had committed war crimes during its offensive in Gaza. Moreover, after a British court last year issued an arrest warrant for former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on war crimes charges, the Labour government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged to change the relevant legislation to ensure Israeli officials were shielded.

According to the British Daily Mail, Israel forewarned the Brown government as a “courtesy”. While this story remains unconfirmed, it raises the question as to whether the other countries involved, as well as the US, were pre-warned.

Whatever the case, there is little doubt that those responsible for the Dubai murder were conscious that most of the governments whose passports they were forging were themselves intimately familiar with assassination campaigns. The Labour government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown has for several years presided over an extensive targeted killing operation in Iraq. According to a new book by BBC reporter Mark Urban, British elite SAS troops have murdered between 350 and 400 “terrorist” leaders in Iraq. Similar operations have been orchestrated by other US allies—Australia’s SAS is highly valued by Washington for its role in hunting down senior resistance fighters in Afghanistan, while German forces have engaged in similar killings of alleged Taliban figures.

<<<  Dubai’s autorities have called for the arrest of Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu is a well-known reactionary and warmonger.

It is testament to the debased political and moral character of the major parties and the media in the US, Europe and Australia that there has been no discussion on the far reaching implications of the Dubai assassination with regard to international law and democratic rights. To the extent that concerns have been raised, they are strictly tactical—that perhaps the operation had drawn too much adverse publicity and that the Israeli government ought not to have forged passports belonging to its allies.

Other commentators, however, openly celebrated the killing. “It is an unfashionable thing to say, but I have a considerable admiration for the Israeli way of doing things,” Melanie Reid of the London Times wrote on February 18. “They want something, they get it. They perceive someone as their deadly enemy, they kill them. They get hit, they hit back. They don’t waste time explaining or justifying or agonising; nor do they allow their detractors to enter their country and then afford them generous welfare payments. They just act. No messing. No scruples. Not even a shrug and a denial, just a rather magnificent refusal to debate anything.”

The assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh and the official international response must be taken as a grave warning. So-called targeted killings will be increasingly relied upon by governments internationally in the coming period, applying not merely to alleged terrorists but potentially to any individual who comes to be identified as a threat to the existing social and political order.


Patrick O’Connor is a senior political analyst with the World Socialist Web Site.

•••

More details emerge on assassination of Hamas leader in Dubai

By Ann Talbot
1 March 2010

<<<< Hamas military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was killed last month in his hotel room in what Dubai police say they are almost certain was a hit by Israel’s Mossad spy agency. The killers used a muscle relaxant to tranquillize Mabhouh before suffocating him, said deputy police chief Khamis al-Mazeina, quoted by the Dubai police website. “The assassins used this method so that it would seem that his death was natural as there were no signs of resistance shown by the victim,” he said.

The authorities in Dubai have now identified 26 people whom they allege were involved in the assassination. They are said to have carried fake passports in the names of British, Irish, French, Australian and German citizens. It is reported that 12 British, six Irish, three French, one German and three Australian passports were used. Closed circuit television cameras have allowed the assassins’ movements to be traced through the airport and hotel as they made their way to Mabhouh’s room. Phone calls to a number in Vienna have been tracked, and credit cards linked to what was clearly a highly organised team.

Robert Baer, a former CIA operative, commented in the Wall Street Journalon the number of people involved: “The truth is that Mr. Mabhouh’s assassination was conducted according to the book—a military operation in which the environment is completely controlled by the assassins. At least 25 people are needed to carry off something like this.”


Bruce Riedel, a former CIA agent who is now at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, told the BBC:

“This most likely was a Mossad operation. All the signatures—European passports, the way the team moved quickly to leave the country—cumulatively paint a pretty convincing case.”


“What the Dubai authorities are uncovering now is not just the assassination team, but probably the entire Mossad station,” Riedel continued. “Dubai would be a perfect place to carry out not just a one-off operation, but a long-term one against Iran.” A retired operative for Mossad’s undercover operations division known as Michael Ross told the BBC, “It would be disingenuous to say Israel wasn’t involved in some fashion.” But he pointed to international aspects of the assassination, saying, “I think there are more aspects and international players involved in this case than are visible to the naked eye.”


One of the international aspects is the use of credit cards by many of the latest suspects from the same small Iowa-based Meta Bank. Ross regards the use of a US bank as “very odd.” He suggests that Mossad may not have expected the Dubai authorities to investigate the murder of Mabhouh thoroughly because they would not wish to upset the Emirate’s close relations with the West. Britain, France, Germany and Australia have protested at the use of their passports in the assassination of Mabhouh. But there are suggestions that foreign governments and security services may have known more about the plot than they are willing to admit. Allegations that Mossad warned Britain in advance have surfaced in the UK-based Daily Mail. The paper claims to have been told that the British Foreign Office and MI6 were informed about the operation before it took place. What the newspaper describes as “a British security source” claims to have met a Mossad agent who spoke of a “courtesy call” prior to the assassination.


The Daily Mail continues: “This is a serving member of Israeli intelligence. He says the British Government was told very, very briefly before the operation what was going to happen. There was no British involvement and they didn’t know the name of the target. But they were told these people were travelling on UK passports.”

According to the Daily Mail report, Mossad understood that the Foreign Office would have to “slap them on the wrist,” and that “The British government has to be seen to be going through the motions.” A Foreign Office spokeswoman denied the report and claimed that the British government was informed about the use of fake British passports only hours before the Dubai police announced it at a press conference. “Any suggestion that we knew anything about the murder in Dubai before it happened, including about the misuse of British passports, is completely untrue,” she said.


“Any interference with British passports is an outrage,” Foreign Secretary David Miliband declared. “We take this case extremely seriously—the integrity of our system is critical.” He vowed to “get to the bottom” of the affair and has demanded that the Israeli authorities cooperate fully with the UK investigation. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced an inquiry into the use of British passports, and police officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency have been sent to Israel to interview the UK citizens whose documents were cloned.


Israel’s ambassador, Ron Prosor, was invited to attend a meeting at the Foreign Office. He emerged after a 20 minute session with Sir Peter Ricketts, head of the diplomatic service, in relaxed mood. Prosor said he was happy to cooperate with Sir Peter’s request for a meeting, but added, “I was unable to shed any further light on the events in question.”


He refused to say what was discussed, telling reporters that it was “not the usual way to talk about what happens in those meetings.” Miliband also refused to reveal what was said. He told the BBC’s Jeremy Vine, “It’s very, very important that we don’t make accusations until we know that they’re well founded.” Miliband was one of a number of foreign ministers who met with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Brussels. Irish Foreign Minister Micheál Martin was said to be “very angry” about the use of Irish passports. Martin spoke of his “deep concern.”


Dr. Zion Evrony, the Israeli ambassador to Ireland, was called for talks at the foreign ministry, but said that he had “no information” about the affair. The French foreign ministry was said to be “demanding explanations” from the Israeli embassy. Andreas Michaelis, Germany’s Middle East envoy, held a meeting with Emmanuel Nahshon, a counsellor at the Israeli embassy in Berlin. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said, “I believe it is imperative to explain the circumstances surrounding the death of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.” Lieberman’s response to the protests from EU countries was to claim that Israel was being made into a scapegoat. “There is no proof that Israel is involved in this affair, and if somebody had presented any proof, aside from press stories, we would have reacted,” Lieberman said. “But since there are no concrete elements, there is no need to react.”


Lieberman is fully aware that relations are continuing normally beneath the public protests. Miliband has happily accepted an invitation to attend a reception at the recently refurbished Israeli embassy in London. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has protested at the use of Australian passports. He said that he was not satisfied with the Israeli response. But he cautioned that Australia must “proceed very carefully” in the matter because of “very complex security and intelligence matters.”


In reality, the use of Australian passports by the Israeli security services is not new. Ian Wilcocks, the former Australian ambassador to Israel, said that during the 1990s he twice warned Israeli foreign ministry officials not to forge Australian passports for intelligence operations. Mossad agents have been caught using Canadian and New Zealand passports in the past. The governments involved may express their shock and anger, but the practice is one of long standing. Their protests are strictly for the record. Whether or not the countries whose passports were used in the Dubai operation were warned in advance, they are well aware of Mossad’s record in these matters. The Israeli government has a well established practice of using assassination as a political weapon.


Israel has always operated in close association with the US. This latest assassination was an integral part of the US campaign in the Middle East and beyond. Robert Baer, who was himself once accused of trying to assassinate Saddam Hussein, put the assassination of Mabhouh in an international context. He said, “The CIA has fired an untold number of Hellfire missiles at Al Qaeda and Taliban operatives in the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan… In addition to the intended targets, thousands of other people have been killed.” All those countries whose passports have been used in the murder of Mabhouh have been involved in the US-led “war on terror” and are therefore implicated in countless numbers of deaths.


Ann Talbot is a senior political writer with The World Socialist Web Site.


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