Jump to content
The Education Forum

Dubai Assassins

William Kelly

Recommended Posts


To her neighbours in the nearby Rue Verdun, Penelope was just another eccentric foreigner living her life as best she could in the heart of war-torn west Beirut.

The attractive 30-year-old Englishwoman passed her days seemingly doing nothing more than looking after stray cats and sketching from her window.

Then came January 22, 1979. At 3.35pm the street was rocked by a huge explosion as a 100lb car bomb was detonated. Nine people lost their lives in the blast but it was the death of Ali Hassan Salameh, ripped apart in the back of his Chevrolet station wagon, that would send shockwaves around the world.

Dubbed the Red Prince, he had been the chief planner for the terrorist organisation Black September and was behind the raid at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games in which 11 Israeli athletes were killed.

Erika Chambers (left): Named as a Mossad assassin. One of the alleged Dubai team who posed as 'Gail Folliard' (right)

Ever since, assassination squads from Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, had been set loose on the world hell-bent on revenge. And on that January day, their hunt for Salameh finally came to an end.

Of course, amid all the chaos and the confusion, nobody would have noticed Penelope slipping quietly out of her flat.

She had first taken the trouble to fill the cats' dishes with food and had told a neighbour that the commotion had upset her so much she intended to rest in a hotel nearby.

But in fact she would never return and, to this day, her whereabouts remain a mystery.

All the hostages were killed in a botched rescue

What has, however, become apparent is that far from being an innocent Englishwoman abroad, Penelope was a Mossad spy trained to use her feminine wiles to inveigle her way into the life of one of the world's most feared terrorists - and then help kill him.

Indeed, the evidence strongly suggests that it was she, a modern-day Mata Hari, who activated the detonator that blew up Salamah and his bodyguards.

Hers is an extraordinary story and this week it gained a grim new fascination. The murder in Dubai of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh by an 11-strong team of assassins has parallels to the murder of Salameh.

Not only is Mossad widely believed to be behind al-Mabhouh's execution but, as with the killing of Salameh, a woman played a central role on the hit squad.

While doubts remain about the actual identities of the Dubai assassins, the years have provided some intriguing clues as to who 'Penelope' really was.

Evidence that has emerged over the years suggests that she was in fact a British woman by the name of Erika Maria Chambers, and she was born and brought up in London as part of a wealthy Anglo-Jewish family.

The first female assassin: The woman pretending to be Irish citizen Gail Folliard smiles as she passes under a CCTV camera during surveillance of the hotel

Living in Notting Hill, her early life, including stints of babysitting for the family of near-neighbour Labour MP Tony Benn, never hinted at the drama to come.

But having travelled to Israel to further her studies at a Hebrew university she was targeted by Mossad and persuaded to become an agent after learning more about the Holocaust, and how many of her relatives had died in it.

Having spent years as a 'sleeper' in Germany, she was activated and sent to Beirut for her one and only mission. After that, she was smuggled into Israel, where it is believed she has been in hiding ever since.

Such was her fear of PLO reprisals her only contact with her parents, both now dead, was the occasional Christmas card bearing an Israeli postage stamp.

But there is one further, extraordinary, twist to the story. Erika Maria Chambers, 'Mossad assassin', has a brother. His name is Nicholas Chambers - and he is a QC and leading civil court judge who is a pillar of the British judicial establishment.

Operation 'Wrath of God' was set up to take revenge

With six days of the 1972 Olympics left to run, at 4.30am on September 5, five Palestinian gunmen, dressed in tracksuits and carrying sports bags scaled the 6ft 6in fence surrounding the Olympic Village.

Armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and grenades they headed for the building housing the Israeli team.

Within an hour nine hostages had been taken and two athletes were dead. A list of demands was issued and, after 21 hours of negotiations, the German authorities agreed to fly the gunmen and their captives to a nearby airfield.

There, live on television, a botched rescue attempt was staged. It resulted in the death of all the hostages, five of the Palestinians and a policeman.

Determined to wreak their revenge for the Munich massacre, Mossad almost immediately embarked upon a clinically executed programme of assassinations.

Known as 'Operation Wrath of God', its targets were Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Black September guerillas believed to be behind Munich.

Within 41 days of the athletes' kidnap, Mossad chalked up its first kill. Their target was Wael Zwaiter, the suspected leader of Black September, who was shot in Rome by a hit squad as he returned to his flat one evening.

The day after his death, Israeli radio proudly reported the 'liquidation' of the first of those involved in the planning of the Munich massacre.

A woman posing as Gail Folliard stakes out the hallway

Next, in December, was the execution of Mahmoud Hamshiri, the PLO's top man in France. The hit was carried out in Paris and involved a table in Hamshiri's flat being switched with one built by Mossad that was packed with plastic explosives.

A telephone call lured him to the table and the bomb was detonated.

As the months passed, the missions got increasingly daring. A raid into the heart of Beirut involving special forces dressed as women claimed the lives of three high-ranking targets, while in Cyprus a woman agent lured a man to his death on an exploding mattress.

But then, in the small Norwegian town of Lillehammer things started to go wrong. Targetting Ali Hassan Salameh, second in the hit list only to Arafat himself, a case of mistaken identity led to the death of an innocent Moroccan waiter.

Arrests swiftly followed with the result that that five-strong team of assassins were jailed for murder. Israel was directly linked to the killing and others around Europe, forcing the cancellation of Operation Wrath of God.

But Mossad wasn't about to forget the unfinished business with Salameh.

She scored a direct hit as the car passed

Five times they would try to kill him, but every time the poster-boy of Arab terrorism escaped.

By 1979 he was chief of security of Al Fatah, the guerilla arm of the PLO and was directly responsible for Arafat's safety. Combined with his fondness for silk shirts and elegant Western suits, it earned him the nickname of the ' playboy cop' - a reputation enhanced by the fact that his second wife was Lebanon's 1972 Miss Universe.

But behind all this, Salameh was a deadly serious player and was widely regarded as Arafat's anointed heir. For this reason - and for his involvement in planning the Munich Massacre - the Israelis were determined to continue with their policy of international assassination.

With this in mind, they put together a plan to recruit an international team to facilitate his liquidation. And it was here that their English recruit - 'Penelope' - would come into play.

Following Salameh's murder, a British passport was discovered in Penelope's apartment in the Rue Verdun. It was in the name of Erika Maria Chambers and gave her date of birth as February 10, 1948.

From this document alone it is, of course, impossible to be sure that this was her true identity. Today, following the 'hit' in Dubai, it has emerged that the killers were almost certainly travelling on false British passports, using details taken from the identities of individuals born in this country but now living in Israel.

The same could, of course, be true in the case of Erika Chambers. But the evidence suggests otherwise.

Her birth certificate reveals that her parents were Marcus and Lona, who had married in London during the war.

The five-star Al-Bustan Rotana Hotel in Dubai where the murder took place

Marcus, a winner of the Le Mans 24 hour race and successful motor sport manager, came from a well-to-do English background (his father was an admiral).

His wife Lona, whose maiden name was Gross, came from a Jewish family from Czechoslovakia and had fled to Britain to escape the Nazis.

Erika and her older brother Nicholas, who was three years older, were brought up in comfortable surroundings in Holland Park, West London, and both were privately educated.

But their parents separated as they were growing up, with Erika living with her mother. She would go on to study geography at Southampton, where tutors remember her as dedicated to her work but at the same time something of a daredevil, owning a Mini Cooper that she would drive around the city at high speed.

After university she travelled briefly to Australia before moving to Israel to study. She arrived at much the same time as the Munich massacre and soon after, according to intelligence sources in Israel and Germany, she was targeted by Mossad as they 'talent-spotted' for an agent to help them kill Salameh.

Erika was perfect. Thanks to her mother she spoke German fluently (a talent cleverly exploited by Mossad's masterplan) and her allegiance to the Israeli cause was cemented after Mossad supplied her with harrowing details of how some of her maternal relatives had died in Nazi gas chambers.

'She was like a good, ordinary English girl,' explains Wilhelm Dietl, a German expert on Mossad who has written a book on the assassination of Salameh, and has had access to intelligence file on the hit. 'As far as Mossad was concerned she was clean and, crucially, didn't look Jewish.'

Several years of intensive training followed, after which she moved to Germany in 1975. She lived there for three years. The purpose was two-fold. First, it distanced her from her time in Israel. Second, following the assassination, it would suggest that the German security services were behind the killing - not Mossad.

At the end of 1978, having been given a visa for Lebanon by the Lebanese Embassy in Bonn, Erika travelled to Beirut. Using the name Penelope, she rented a flat overlooking the Rue Verdun, close to where Salameh lived, posing as an eccentric painter and PLO supporter.

After several months she penetrated the welfare organisation of the Palestinians and from there on to reach Salameh was not a problem,' one of the Mossad agents involved in planning the hit has since revealed. 'So she went to the same swimming pool as him and later on they got friendly.'

Whether or not she slept with him is unclear, but what we do know, according to sources, is that having established Salameh's daily routine another Mossad agent flew into Beirut two weeks before the hit.

Also using a British passport, he used the name Peter Scriver (both the name and the passport have been shown to be fake) and after checking into a hotel rented a Volkswagen from the Lenacar agency.

Some time on January 17, the two met up, after which Scriver drove the VW to a secret garage where it was equipped with a 100lb payload of explosives. Shortly afterwards, his work done, the mysterious Scriver left the country, with a third agent parking the VW in the Rue Verdun 100 yards from Salameh's apartment, and in view of Penelope's flat, on January 22 at 2.30pm.

An hour later, Salameh left his home in his Chevrolet, in the company of four bodyguards. As they passed the VW the bomb was detonated, mortally wounding the occupants of the station wagon as well as killing four passers-by - including a German nun and an English student. A further 18 bystanders were injured.

Although some reports suggest the bomb was set off by a timing device, the Mossad agent involved in the hit claims that it was detonated by Erika.

'Her role was only to press the button at the right time when his car was passing the Volkswagen,' he said. 'Co-ordinating it was very difficult and she was trained to do it. But she managed so well that when he passed she pressed the button and got a direct hit.'

Even as the smoke settled, there was little doubt as to what had happened. Israel - and Wrath of God - had finally got their man.

The Palestinians were furious. When Arafat learned of Salameh's death he said: 'We have lost a lion.' And he ordered those responsible to be hunted down.

But by then it was already too late. Like the hit, the Mossad agents' escape had been meticulously planned. By the time the PLO was beginning to understand the role played by 'Penelope' she was in Israel, having driven to the Christian port of Jounieh before being spirited out of Lebanon on an Israeli gunboat.

In her flat she had left a British passport - sowing the seeds of a mystery that would last to this day.

At the time it was widely assumed that the Erika Chambers's identity must have been a Mossad creation. After all, not only was it a tried and tested espionage technique but checks on her accomplice, Scriver, showed that he did not exist. Could the same be said of Erika Chambers? It would seem not.

Respected author Aaron J. Klein says the passport was genuine and that Erika had been able to use her own identity, as this was a one-off hit.

'Erika Chambers was a nice British lady who even used her own passport,' explains Klein, whose book Striking Back details the Israeli response to Munich. 'She was an ad hoc operative recruited for a specific mission. She was used and no longer needed after the operation. A common procedure.'

Wilhelm Dietl, the German Mossad expert, has further confirmed her identity. He travelled to Britain in the early 1990s and spoke with Erika's father.

'They didn't have a great relationship, but he said there was the odd Christmas card with an Israeli postmark on it,' he says. 'What was clear, however, was that she did remain in touch with her brother.'

He is Oxford-educated Nicholas Mordaunt Chambers, a QC since 1985 and civil court judge. The Mail contacted him on two occasions to discuss the alleged involvement of his sister in the killing of Salameh.

Asked if the Erika Maria Chambers named as a Mossad agent was in fact his sister, Mr Chambers replied: 'You are pursuing from your own point of view a very proper line of inquiry but you will understand that it's not something I can help you with.'

The conversation continued thus: Reporter: 'You appear to be her brother and I am intrigued to know if that is accurate and what indeed has happened to your sister.'

Mr Chambers: 'The answer is you probably <cite>are </cite>intrigued' (laughs).

Reporter: 'I am writing an article about her. I hope if the Israeli intelligence services had assumed someone's identity, your sister's, you might be able to guide me on that.'

Mr Chambers: 'It's a very fair line, but, there one is - well - it's probably really best I don't say anything.'

Contacted a second time he would only say that he hoped that 'time has moved on'.

An intriguing response, indeed. But, then, in the world inhabited by 'Penelope', a world of international espionage, of Mossad-trained death squads, and of life-long glances over one's shoulder, what else should we expect?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sykes-Picot Assassination in Dubai

Feb. 18 (EIRNS)--The international media has been filled with

reports on the investigation of the assassination of Hamas

operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh last month in Dubai, and where the

authorities have identified 11 suspects whose pictures were seen

on bogus passports from Britain, France, Ireland, and Germany.

While the Dubai authorities have said they were nearly one

hundred percent sure it was an Israeli Mossad operation, the

British, French and Irish foreign offices have summoned the

Israeli ambassadors for an explanation. But now there are

indications pointing to the possibility that this was nothing

less than a "Sykes-Picot" assassination.

The London {Independent}'s veteran Beirut-based

correspondent Robert Fisk wrote in today's edition that the real

story is that there was total collusion between Israel, the

British, and other Europeans. He writes that the United Arab

Emirates "suspect -- only suspect, mark you -- that Europe's

`security collaboration' with Israel has crossed a line into

illegality, where British passports (and those of other EU

nations) can now be used to send Israeli agents into the Gulf to

kill Israel's enemies."

He reports that he received a call by an "impeccable" source

from Abu Dhabi, who told him "the British passports are real.

They are hologram pictures with the biometric stamp. They are not

forged or fake. The names were really there. If you can fake a

hologram or biometric stamp, what does this mean?" The source

went on, "There are 18 people involved in the killing of Mahmoud

al-Mabhouh. Besides the 11 already named, there are two

Palestinians who are being interrogated and five others,

including a woman. She was part of the team that staked out the

hotel lobby."

The source sent an SMS message later, saying, "The command

room of the operation was in Austria [sic--in fact, all things

are "sic" in this report--DEA] ... meaning the suspects when here

did not talk to each other but thru the command room on separate

lines to avoid detection or linking themselves to one another...

but it was detected and identified OK??"

The source went on, "We have sent out details of the 11

named people to Interpol. Interpol has circulated them to 188

countries -- but why hasn't Britain warned foreign nations that

these people are using passports in these names?... We have

identified five credit cards belonging to these people, all

issued in the United States."

While the EU countries and Britain are cooperating, the

source said he found it very strange that, "not one of the

countries we have been speaking to has notified Interpol of the

passports used in their name. Why not?"

He concludes on a very interesting note: "Collusion is a

word the Arabs understand. It speaks of the 1956 Suez War, when

Britain and France cooperated with Israel to invade Egypt. Both

London and Paris denied the plot. They were lying. But for an

Arab Gulf country which suspects its former masters (the U.K., by

name) may have connived in the murder of a visiting Hamas

official, this is apparently now too much. There is much more to

come out of this story. We will wait to see if there are any

replies in Europe."

The question Fisk does not ask, is whether this is a

brilliant piece of intelligence work by Abu Dhabi, or was there

cooperation that could also pin it on Britain as well? [dea]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now there are 26 suspects, of which we have facial photos but no names or nationality, except for one of the two women.




Then there's the Chinese Take: Source: Xinhua

The ultimate weapon in Mossad's arsenal are "combatants," as they are known, who belong to a body known as "The Unit." The unit had many names over the years, like "Massada," but its most famous code name has been and remains "Caesarea," Mossad's special operations division.

Candidates designated for service with "Caesarea" embark on a rigorous one-to-two-year training course. Along the path to becoming certified field agents, trainees learn a host of skills: how to build and maintain a credible cover story, tailing a subject and avoiding a tail, clandestine photography, encrypted communication techniques, unarmed combat, operating various vehicles, and extensive training in weapons, explosives and an assortment of killing methods, to name a few.

The Dubai hit squad, which included two women, tailed al- Mabhouh for long hours, carefully observing his every step. Dubai's police chief, Colonel Dahi Khalfan Tamim, revealed in a conversation with Yediot Aharonot, that some of the assassins visited Dubai twice in the past three months, when al-Mabhouh entered the emirate using a forged Iraqi passport.

It is tempting to point the finger at Mossad, as Bergman and others alluded. A recreation of the assassins' every move in Dubai, established through piecing together dozens of hours of film by surveillance cameras, is in line with the Israeli agency's modus operandi. The hit squad's members arrived in Dubai and left on separate flights. They stayed at different hotels and orchestrated their lethal "dance" around their victim in small teams - a classic Mossad methodology.

Debacle or success? experts doubt Mossad's role in Dubai assassination


Israeli analysts on the Mossad cast doubt on international reports assuming the legendary spook shop is behind the killing of top Hamas commander, Mahmoud al- Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel room on January 19, and whether the operation was even a success.


"The bottom line is that the whole world, not just Hamas and not just the chief of the Dubai police are 100 percent convinced that Israel's foreign intelligence network - the Mossad - is behind the assassination."

So charged Dr. Ronen Bergman, the author of "The Secret War with Iran," and chief investigative reporter for Yediot Aharonot, Israel's largest daily newspaper.

"I don't know who's behind the assassination, and even if I knew I wouldn't be able to tell you," Bergman told Xinhua Monday in an exclusive interview, hinting at his sources in the Jewish State's security echelon. But he is highly critical of the operation, no matter the outcome.

Bergman dismissed most reports outside of Israel claiming to know specifics details of the case, and particulars about the Mossad units thought involved. When all the details of the case come to light many such articles will be found to be far off the mark, he said.

"I would put a massive question mark above these reports, that they belong to 'Caesaria,' or 'Kidon,'" or any other presumed Mossad liquidation squad, Bergman said.

Everyone connected to the Mossad and the Israeli government kept mum on the story, however, preferring to allow the clandestine deeds to speak for them.

"With Xinhua I am only prepared to talk about relations between Israel and China," laughed former Mossad chief Danny Yatom in a telephone interview with Xinhua.

However, that refusal to comment is also adding to the belief that Israel ordered the assassination of a man who is said to have killed Israelis and planned many attacks against Israeli targets.

Al-Mabhouh is thought to have played a key role in forming connections between Hamas and the Islamic Revolution Guards in Iran. He also held a major role in the coordination of arms shipments - including Iranian-made long-range rockets that can reach Tel Aviv, the country's financial and cultural hub - from Iran to the Gaza Strip via Sudan and Egypt, to the Sinai Peninsula.


The word "Mossad" means "Institute," and the anonymous Dubai assassins, as in other operations throughout the Mideast and Europe, are widely hailed by the Israelis; their techniques have been fodder for scores of spy novels and films.

In comparison to the CIA and British MI-6, the Israeli agency is considered tiny, an estimated 1,200 personnel - both men and women - in total. Most serve at Mossad's headquarters near Tel Aviv in intelligence analysis, regional desks, clerical and logistical roles. The minority comprises the organization's operational units tasked with collecting intelligence around the globe and recruiting foreign sources. A mere fraction of that minority will be sent on assassination missions, which are considered very rare.

The ultimate weapon in Mossad's arsenal are "combatants," as they are known, who belong to a body known as "The Unit." The unit had many names over the years, like "Massada," but its most famous code name has been and remains "Caesarea," Mossad's special operations division.

Candidates designated for service with "Caesarea" embark on a rigorous one-to-two-year training course. Along the path to becoming certified field agents, trainees learn a host of skills: how to build and maintain a credible cover story, tailing a subject and avoiding a tail, clandestine photography, encrypted communication techniques, unarmed combat, operating various vehicles, and extensive training in weapons, explosives and an assortment of killing methods, to name a few.

The Dubai hit squad, which included two women, tailed al- Mabhouh for long hours, carefully observing his every step. Dubai's police chief, Colonel Dahi Khalfan Tamim, revealed in a conversation with Yediot Aharonot, that some of the assassins visited Dubai twice in the past three months, when al-Mabhouh entered the emirate using a forged Iraqi passport.

It is tempting to point the finger at Mossad, as Bergman and others alluded. A recreation of the assassins' every move in Dubai, established through piecing together dozens of hours of film by surveillance cameras, is in line with the Israeli agency's modus operandi. The hit squad's members arrived in Dubai and left on separate flights. They stayed at different hotels and orchestrated their lethal "dance" around their victim in small teams - a classic Mossad methodology.


Israel's leading military and intelligence analysts are at odds over whether al-Mabhouh's assassination was a success or failure. Most crowned it a success. The mission, they said, was completed and all the agents returned home safely. But some of Mossad's methods were revealed on tape and the assassins were exposed, thus ending their ability to continue operating abroad.

Bergman thought the operation could only be termed a success on the tactical level.

"Al-Mabhouh is dead and the 11 or 12 perpetrators are long gone and the Dubai police are chasing the wind - they will never be able to catch them," Bergman said.

Al-Mabhouh's body was found in his Dubai hotel room - which was locked from the inside - 14 hours after his death. By that time, his assassins had long vanished, unharmed.

Xinhua also spoke with two leading international intelligence experts, both said the evidence would suggest that the Mossad played a role in the mission. However, they differ as to whether this was a successful operation.

"Their target is no longer alive, is he?" said Francis Tusa, editor of the London-based Defense Analysis newsletter.

He added though, there is a good chance the suspects caught on camera might not be able to work in the field again and certainly not in the United Arab Emirates.

That fact made this a seriously botched operation, according to Theodore Karasik, research and development director at the Dubai- based Institute for Near East & Gulf Military Analysis.

"This does indeed look like a Mossad operation but it is probably one of the more sloppy Mossad operations ever, if it is indeed Mossad," he said.

Bergman largely agreed.

"The diplomatic blunder, the damage to the covert relations of Israel with other countries, like Germany, like France, like Britain... this could not be termed a success."

The fallout from the hit will lead to "an ongoing diplomatic and covert blunder in which everybody views Israel as being in violation of the sovereignty of Dubai, and of other numerous laws of international judicial agreements," Bergman warned.

The British Foreign Ministry is "outraged" while the Irish Foreign Ministry is "fuming." The French, German and Austrian governments, too, are demanding immediate clarifications. Hamas, for its part, has vowed revenge.

But while diplomatic tensions between Israel and some foreign governments following the killing may be high, many Western - and Arab - observers are awe-struck by Israel's spy craft, the kind that enables them to reach anyone, anywhere, at any time.

"I have no clue who killed al-Mabhouh", a former Mossad agent told Xinhua on condition of anonymity, "but I am certain that he will not be missed by many."

Edited by William Kelly
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There seems to be an endless series of articles on the real, innocent people whose names were used for the assassin's passports, ie.


but other than that one story on one of the two women involved, Erika Chambers - the sister of a British MP, there are no stories or any identification of the individuals in the photos - the real assassins.

This is very similar to the situation on 9/11 when all of the hijackers were identified, but the people who were named were still living and not the real hijackers. Who were those guys?

While the plight of the impersonated is a touching story, the real story is the identify of the assassins.

It also might be significant to point out that the murder took place on Jan. 19, the body wasn't discovered until January 20th afternoon, and not identifed as a Hamas leader for a few days and it took ten days for them to decide it was a murder.

That sounds like the Dallas PD to me.


Edited by William Kelly
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Objective Analysis?

Dubhttp://www.tabletmag.com/news-and-politics/26813/dubai-murder/ai Murder

By Marc Tracy | 6:53 pm Feb 28, 2010


Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, the Hamas weapons procurer who played a crucial role facilitating arms shipments from Iran to Gaza, was murdered in his Dubai hotel room on the night of January 19. Dubai police claim the assassination was a Mossad operation—the list of suspects now numbers 26—and basically all reporting agrees with that assessment. But there are also assorted oddities that suggest that the Mossad may not have done it, or at least not alone. Fatah, several Arab governments, and maybe some elements within Hamas also wanted al-Mabhouh dead. The Mossad, per its usual practice, has neither confirmed nor denied its involvement.

For now, assume it was the Mossad—the rest of the world certainly assumes it. Because the assassins used forgeries of other countries' passports, those nations are ostensibly angry with Israel, and because the Mossad looks to have been unusually inept (among other things, the assassins were captured on Dubai's extensive security-camera system), the intelligence agency's reputation has ostensibly suffered. At the end of the day, though, Mossad is way too useful to the West for diplomatic repercussions to follow. And—inept or not, harmed reputation or not, and Mossad or not—the mission was certainly accomplished: like Generalissimo Francisco Franco before him, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh is still dead.

The only reason this story has received more attention, leaping to the front pages of Israeli and British tabloids and receiving extensive media coverage around the world (including the United States), is the less geopolitically significant cloak-and-dagger element—less geopolitically significant, but totally awesome. Here's a primer on that fun stuff.


At least one member of the assassination squad—which according to Judith Miller's reporting for Tablet Magazine trailed al-Mabhouh's movements on two previous visits to Dubai—was waiting for al-Mabhouh at the Dubai airport terminal when he flew in from Damascus (where he lived, along with much of Hamas's senior leadership) on January 19. Security cameras captured two assassins, wearing fake beards and looking like typical European tourists, checking into his hotel immediately after he did, even riding up the elevator with him to watch him enter his room, Room 230. An hour later, the squad had ascertained that the room opposite his was unoccupied, booked it, and used it as their staging ground. That was Room 237—why, yes, that is also the

with the creepy old lady in The Shining.

The rest of the assassins had spent the previous day switching hotels, patrolling in pairs, and paying for everything in cash (we know all of this because of those security cameras). At around 8 p.m. on January 19, someone tried to reprogam the lock to al-Mabhouh's door. At 8:24, al-Mabhouh arrived at the hotel. At 8:48, four assassins—big men—departed the hotel. Al-Mabhouh was discovered the next day at 1:30 p.m. Nothing indicated forced entry. And a "Do Not Disturb" sign hung on the door of Room 230.

How was al-Mabhouh killed? Some reports suggest a drug-induced heart attack, others electrocution followed by asphyxiation, and still others just asphyxiation. In other words, we still don't know. Though we can pretty sure that he did not succumb to cancer, as Hamas initially claimed on January 20, when his corpse was first discovered. (Blood tests have confirmed murder.)


The 26 suspects used passports from Britain, Ireland, France, Australia, and Germany. (Those entering Dubai with Israeli passports are, presumably, automatically red-flagged; travelers from those countries are not.) Most if not all of these were forgeries, though at least the single German one appears to be real. Most carried the names of real, innocent Israeli residents, usually ones who were actually, say, dual British-Israeli citizens and carried British passports. (Some of the real-life people are pissed, but at least one is amused). The pictures on the passports (which are now in the public record—see here) are not pictures of those named on the passports. Instead, they are doctored pictures that resemble the assassins who held them enough that they were able to get past customs, but not so much that we can easily identify them now. In other words: well done, whoever you are.


The assassins' fake passports implicated innocent Israelis—would the Mossad really want to do that? Two of the killers, both holding fake Australian passports, escaped to Iran afterward, which you would not think would be the most hospitable place for two Mossad assassins on the lam. And two former Fatah security personnel connected to powerful P.A. official Mohammed Dahlan have also been arrested in connection with the plot.

Then there's al-Mabhouh. The guy spent two decades wanted by the Mossad for the 1989 killing of two Israeli soldiers. The Egyptian and Jordanian authorities, to say nothing of the Palestinian Authority (which considers Hamas an enemy almost as much as Israel does), had it out for him, too. (Hamas's initial investigation concluded that al-Mabhouh was killed by an Arab government.) In other words, this is someone used to keeping an anonymous profile. He was given to traveling in disguise, complete with colored contact lenses; it's even rumored that he had cosmetic surgery so as to permit anonymity.

Given all this, he was astonishingly careless. He told an aide (since arrested) and his family of his travel plans, in detail. He traveled under his own name, and without bodyguards—a rarity for him. Allegedly, the bodyguards couldn't get plane tickets. (Raise your hand if you remember the part in The Godfather when Michael's two bodyguards suddenly flee from the front of his house in Sicily, and that's how Michael knows his car's ignition has been wired.)

All of this points to the prospect that, whether institutional or individual, something or someone that was not the Mossad nonetheless colluded with the Mossad in the killing. That is, assuming it was the Mossad that killed him.


That's the smart money. It's not just the clean method of dispatching the target (say what you want about the assassins appearing on the Dubai cameras, that we still don't know how al-Mabhouh was killed says something about the professionalism of his killers); or the way al-Mabhouh's death fits perfectly into the Mossad's pattern of assassinating Israel's enemies; or Judith Miller's report that it was the Mossad, The Times of London's report that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally approved the job, and the Dubai police chief's assertion that he is "99 percent" sure it was Mossad, followed by his claim that he possesses DNA evidence of at least one assassin. It's all of the above.

There are two major aspects of the job that were uncharacteristic of the Mossad: first, getting caught (sort of), and, second, sending 26 people to do the job instead of, like, three. The former fact can be explained simply by Dubai's having an incredibly extensive security-camera system, so that not getting picked up on it would be extremely difficult; and in fact, the assassins gave every indication of knowing they were probably being taped. The large hit team could be explained, as Haaretz spy correspondent Yossi Melman suggested, as the Dubai police chief's deliberately throwing out false or tenuous evidence, as well as with reference to the fact that this was a complicated job, and perhaps that many people were just what was necessary.

To believe that it was not the Mossad, you must believe that some country or entity other than Israel had: a motive to assassinate al-Mabhouh strong enough to trump fears of being implicated (while also knowing it was so valuable to the rest of the world that diplomatic consquences would be minimal); the information on which dual British-Israeli citizens carry British passports; the manpower and money to orchestrate an extensive, months-long, complex operation; and the training and expertise to stalk and stake out al-Mabhouh, kill him so that his death could not be confirmed for almost 24 hours and his murder could not be confirmed for over a week, and manage not to have a single agent, out of as many as 26, be apprehended. Could Egypt's spies pull it off this well? Could the CIA, for that matter?

Anyway, Mossad's job opening Webpage has never been busier, and sales of "Don't Mess With The Mossad" t-shirts are up tenfold. Q.E.D.

Edited by William Kelly
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

assassination suspects identifiedMay 6, 2010


(JTA) -- Five more suspects have been identified in the investigation into the assassination of a Hamas commander in Dubai, The Wall Street Journal reported.

One of the suspects, identified as Zev Barkan, also is being sought in New Zealand in connection with passport fraud there, an unnamed source told the newspaper.

In 2004, two Israeli citizens were convicted of illegally attempting to obtain New Zealand passports; they were widely believed to be agents of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency. Their conviction led to the suspension of high-level diplomatic contacts for one year and the closure of Israel's embassy. The embassy recently was reopened.

The new suspects bring to 32 the number of people accused by Dubai police of assassinating Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a hotel room in January. The Mossad has been blamed for the slaying, in which Mabhouh apparently was suffocated after being drugged.

In March, an investigation by Britain's Serious and Organized Crime Squad found that the Mossad provided members of an assassination team with forged British passports.

The assassins used forged passports from Britain, Ireland, Australia and Germany to enter and leave Dubai. One of the newly identified assassins used a French passport.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied its involvement in Mabhouh's assassination.

Meanwhile, Britain this week refused to allow the Mossad to send a new representative to Israel's embassy in London since the Foreign Ministry has refused to sign a commitment not to forge British passports in future operations. Britain expelled an embassy official, believed to be a Mossad representative, in March, following the completion of its investigation into the affair.

Hamas chief Mahmoud al-Mabhouh's murder: Briton is a suspect

EXCLUSIVE: By Justin Penrose 16/05/2010

The hunt for the hit squad who posed as tennis players to assassinate a Hamas leader in Dubai took a new twist last night as a Briton was named as a suspect.

The 62-year-old man, who was born in Glasgow, is one of five new suspects in the murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

Intelligence sources believe he could have been a "sleeper" - a secret agent who lives an apparently normal life - mobilised just for January's hit. The Dubai authorities have accused Israeli spy agency Mossad of being behind it.

The UK Government was furious with Israel because 12 cloned British passports were used by the assassins.

A British intelligence source said: "There are five new suspects. It was our understanding the other squad members were from Israel so we were shocked that a man with a British passport was a suspect."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Got one. 31 more to go.

'Mossad agent' arrested over Dubai hotel hit


By Middle East correspondent Anne Barker

Posted Mon Jun 14, 2010 8:20am AEST

r505687_2699618.jpgKilled in hotel room: A Hamas supporter holds a picture of Mahmoud Al Mabhouh (Reuters: Khaled Al Hariri)

Authorities in Europe have arrested the first suspect over the assassination of a Hamas commander in a Dubai hotel room last January.

Nearly 30 suspects linked to the hit on top Hamas man Mahmoud al Mabhouh were found to be travelling on false passports from Australia, Britain, Ireland, France and Germany.

Investigative German magazine Der Spiegel is reporting that German intelligence helped Polish authorities arrest a man - who they allege was connected to the assassination - as he arrived at Warsaw Airport 10 days ago.

The man, known as Uri Brodsky, is now in custody in Poland and is suspected of being an Israeli Mossad agent who helped obtain false German passports for the assassins.

One of the alleged assassins identified by Dubai police was travelling on a passport issued in the German city of Cologne, in the name of Michael Bodenheimer.

Brodsky - which may or may not be his real name - is accused of helping secure a false German passport for the assassin who travelled to Dubai as Michael Bodenheimer.

In February, one Michael Bodenheimer was found to be an ultra-Orthodox Israeli rabbi living on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, who apparently had no connection to Germany.

Germany is now seeking Uri Brodsky's extradition, but the magazine says Israeli diplomats in Warsaw are urging Polish authorities to reject the request.

Israeli government minister Stas Misezhnikov says Uri Brodsky should instead be sent back to Israel, which has no extradition treaty with Germany.

"Poland needs to inform Germany that it is returning the Israeli citizen to Israel," he said.

"And if there is a warrant against him, then we also have legal standards that are in line with international laws."

Uri Brodsky's arrest comes at a difficult time for Israel as it tries to deal with international criticism of its deadly commando raid on a flotilla of aid ships bound for Gaza. Nine people died during the raid.

The arrest has already caused some diplomatic friction.

Hamas leaders in Gaza though, including Sami Abu Zuhri, have welcomed the arrest and are hoping there will be more.

"We hope that this international effort continues to arrest the killers of the martyr Al Mabhouh and they will be brought to justice," he said.

Regardless of Uri Brodsky's immediate fate, Dubai authorities say they will not be seeking his extradition if his only crime was committed in Germany, unless it is shown that he too took part in the assassination in Dubai.

As to the identity of the man posing as Michael Bodenheimer - or any of the other assassins - it remains as much a mystery as ever.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...