Dubai's Securities and Security
The story of the 19 January 2010 death of Mahmoud al Mabhouh in Dubai under highly suspicious circumstances is now making the rounds. The smart money says that the Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, was behind it. It has created an international scandal for all sorts of reasons. I have no specific "privileged information" on any particulars; I only know what I read in the media. Accordingly, my comments, which follow (in no particular order), are of necessity mostly conjecture and speculation. Time will tell how close to or far from the mark they are:
1. For those who have time to watch, videos released by the Dubai police are, in sequential order, here, here and here (they total nearly a half hour viewing time). The use of cell phones and other modern communications is passim.
2. I will not get into the morality of such cloak-and-dagger operations, other than to say that such activities are a tangled and dirty business of which I have not had any part, and have no intention of playing any part in the future. Those who would criticize Israel for Mossad's activities of this sort are, of course, free to do so, but I insist that they hold all other countries to the same standard as the one they impose upon Israel.
3. Espionage as a patriotic act was glorified in the 1960's and early 1970's by the TV sitcom "Get Smart" (which was a spoof of "The Man From Uncle" sitcom, which in turn was a spoof of Ian Fleming's "James Bond" books-cum-movies). There was also the "Mission Impossible" drama series. More realistic in a sense, however, was the TV show "The Prisoner" which starred Patrick McGoohan. Having previously served as a spy (as documented in the prior TV show "Secret Agent"), McGoohan's character resigns from the spy agency, and is imprisoned. The plot of each episode is that The Prisoner refuses to divulge why he quit.
What little I do know about the espionage business is that once you get involved in it, you can never quit. Your handlers will continue to demand that you produce, else you be outed and turned in to the authorities. Without going into details, I know of certain people who had to look over their shoulders every minute of the day because of their past involvements in espionage. It is not a life I would choose for myself.
4. Assuming that the Dubai operation was indeed Mossad's work, the much-needed objective of eliminating Mahmoud al Mabhouh was certainly achieved. Nevertheless, it seems that Mossad underestimated the degree of sophistication of Dubai's security infrastructure. There are certainly evidence leads to be followed from the videos, which surely will complicate matters for the Mossad agents and operatives who in any way participated.
5. The smart money says that some Fatah people helped in the operation. This is probably true, but I think that the Mossad also had operatives on the staff of one or more of the hotels involved.
6. The UK and Ireland are obviously hopping up and down mad and angry about this, given the use of passport information from the respective countries. All else being equal, UK and Ireland have to follow the leads and exact some sort of diplomatic recompense from Israel. All is not equal, however, and this aspect of the game may well be completely changed if Israel were to somehow produce (A) some individual wanted by the law enforcement or espionage organizations in UK and/or Ireland; or (B) some information which, if made public, would cause significant personal and professional embarrassment to a high-ranking UK and/or Ireland government official. I would bet upon the latter, but would not discount the former.
7. Given Dubai's precarious financial position, this is the least of that city-state's worries. I also take this opportunity to note the irony of Dubai's poor condition of financial solvency and possible default on certain major debt instruments backed by its government. Dubai, you will recall, is one of the few places in the world that still has the institution of debtors' prison.
8. Meanwhile, Britain and the other civilized countries continue to vilify and condemn Israel, even as they express great relief that a particularly dangerous terrorist has been removed from the world.