Front page of the Gulf News yesterday in Dubai.
Mahmud al-Mabhuh, a senior Hamas military commander and a founder of the Al-Qassam Brigades, was assassinated in the luxurious Al Bustan Rotana Hotel in Dubai on 19 January (or 20th January, accounts differ). On the day of the incident, the Al-Qassam Brigades announced that he died of terminal cancer in a hospital in the United Arab Emirates, but nothing more was said publicly. The news of his murder was only made public ten days after the assasination occurred. The account of his murder is unclear — he was either suffocated, electrocuted, poisoned, or injected with a drug that induced a heart attack.
The Dubai police have asserted that the assassination team consisted of eleven suspects holding various European nationalities. Also, two Palestinians were arrested in Jordan and handed over to Dubai, suspected of giving logistical assistance. One has been reported to be a security official in the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority, which begs the question from Hamas and others: is Fatah teaming up with Mossad to target Hamas? (Rumors are rampant, however, and some think that this was a Hamas inside job, while others suspect Mossad.)
Of course, all of this is reminiscent of the film Munich, which narrates the allegedly true story about Israel’s covert assasination of people involved in the attack on Israel Olympic athletes in Munich in 1972. Seeing the newspaper, however, one of my (Muslim) colleagues said it reminded him more like the hooligans from Oceans Eleven.
Fun gossip and rumors:
* This could be evidence of expansion of Israel’s assasination policy.
* Police chief Dahi Khalfan has said he will issue an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if investigators show Mossad was behind the killing.
* Meanwhile, there was no comment from Dubai-based diplomats from the countries linked to passports carried by the alleged assassin cell: six with British, three Irish and one each from France and Germany.
* A former high-ranking Mossad official, Rami Igra, told Israel Army Radio that the assassination, despite looking like a professional job, was far too amateurish to be Isaraeli, noting that the assailants were seen on a security camera.
* Poor Jerusalem-based British citizen Melvyn Mildiner was shocked to see his name and passport number listed as one of the suspects. He told Reuters news agency that he has never been to Dubai and had no connection with the Mossad or the assassination.