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Dubai.. The Details of al-Mabhouh Assassination
Book reviewed by Dr. Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations
Entitled "Dubai", this book is released one year after the assassination of Hamas' military leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. It poses questions that deal primarily with security and intelligence dimensions, such as: Is the Mossad really responsible for the assassination of al-Mabhouh? How the latter was actually lured to Dubai and then tracked down? Does the book provide any new insight on this event that agitated the whole world? What really happened in Dubai? and many other questions.
The author does not straight forward adopt the responsibility of the Mossad for the assassination, despite the obvious Israeli signatures in it. The operation, considered by many as a "settling of an old account" with a Palestinian leader who have led groups of active cells that killed and imprisoned some Israeli soldiers. The traces included the wide efforts of the Mossad chief in person and some high-ranking Mossad officials, through visits to some "friendly" Arab capitals during the few weeks that followed the event.
Book Title: Dubai.. The Details of al-Mabhouh Assassination (in Hebrew).
The Hit Squad
Throughout its chapters, the book is extensively involved in shedding lights on some private details of the Mossad agents who participated in the murder. Their number was said to be more than twenty males and females, holding fake Italian, Belgian, Dutch, German, and British passports. In addition, a European embassy in the United Arab Emirates was used as a station for the hit squad. The identity of this embassy was not revealed by the book however, possibly because of the Israeli military censorship.
The author then takes the reader to three previous attempts by the Mossad to assassinate al-Mabhouh during the past twenty years, all of which were met by failure. The first was in Dubai, the second in Beirut, and the third in Damascus two months after the assassination of Hizbullah's military commander ‘Imad Mughniyah. This fourth attempt of Dubai in January 2010 was accomplished in a highly orchestrated hit.
It is not peculiar in this aspect to read within the text complimentary remarks on the assassins, based on criteria mentioned by Bruce Riedel a former high-ranking CIA agent for 30 years, who described the assassins as "highly professional, resolute individuals, with astonishing athletic capability, and an impressive record of achievements". [quote translated from an Arabic translation of the Hebrew text].
In an attempt to contain military censorship imposed by the Israeli army on such books, the author draws a virtual supposition of the tasks of the members of the Kidon Mossad unit that was assigned to the assassination job. It goes as follows: two committed the assassination, two for guarding, a woman for coordination, and a driver who prepared an alternative escape strategy in case something went wrong in the execution of the original assassination plan. It is also possible that some other participants were involved without being noticed or identified until today, because a similar operation requires more than seven individuals on ground.
The book narrates a "dramatic" episode of the assassination in a cinema-like style, reading as follows: "Al-Mabhouh returned to his hotel room, lied down on the bed and opened the Television. Although the drapes were dropped, invisible eyes were tracing his movements. The door opened directly with a pre-made duplicate of the key, and one member raided upon al-Mabhouh bringing him down, while the other guarded the place. He was electrocuted beneath his ear, and his body showed signs of his last struggle for life.
The author, Eini, remarks: I could conjecture that preparations for the operation took at least one year, where al-Mabhouh was always traced through. The operation's commander has issued an order of hunting him at the earliest possible opportunity, then leaving. Most probably, and if the target [i.e. al-Mabhouh] had a laptop, the hit squad focused on formatting it and taking the data. In sum, the process went smooth and silently; and in brief, it is a perfect assassination if it was not for the last moments that dragged the Mossad into the mud.
The controversy is that the book author has previously supervised many secret Mossad operations. Once, at least, he used a fake passport in accomplishing a task assigned by the then Mossad director Nahum Admoni. Such a legal breach, according to Eini, led the Britons to feel all bitter towards the continuous use of fake British passports by Mossad especially that in 1987 Israeli pledged not to use fake British passports.
The Plasma Screen
The details of the assassination are remarkable in the book, where the author takes advantage of his wide connections with the Mossad. But yet in addition, the author sheds light on the implications of the assassination on the military and security levels, noting the relevant sides: the Mossad and its degree of success or failure, the Palestinian sides and the complicity of some members in intelligence and security coordination, and the Israeli penetration of Arab security apparatuses.
The book also sheds light on the Israeli penetration into the Gulf area, and its implications not only in the security field but also on political levels and inter-state relations. It explores the implications of the assassination on the strategic relations between Israel and western countries, namely revisiting the long-shared statement of Israel being the guardian of the western interests in the Middle East.
Although the text is obviously dedicated to the narration of the assassination elaborateness, a more careful reading would reveal a "defensive" and somehow "sympathetic" approach towards the Mossad. The latter has lost much of its face and image as a professional, efficient and belligerent cadre as the operation was unraveled in media along with the passports used and the squad's movements.
Actually the whole operation has rather turned out into a notorious account, embarrassing not only Israel but also supporting western countries. The degree of success or failure of this operation could be measured on many scales, among which are the tools used to achieve the goal, the political and material cost, and the moral and humanitarian aspects of its results.
Then, Eini narrates the "charges list" against al-Mabhouh, whose code name within the Mossad was Plasma Screen. al-Mabhouh deserved death in light of this list according to the Israelis. This is why tracking al-Mabhouh has been intensified by the Mossad following the Israeli aggression against Gaza Strip, in late 2008 and early 2009 (referred to by Israel as the Cast Lead operation), and in light of the Israeli–American intelligence and security cooperation that followed the war which aimed at stopping the smuggling of arms to Hamas.
Among the tactics employed to achieve this goal was the fervent tracking of sea vessels and land convoys even when far away, the penetration and rending of arms smuggling networks. Worth noting here is that the author does not disqualify the possibility of Israel perpetuating the assassination in cooperation with many intelligence agencies, and that it was commissioned to assassinate. Israel is the only party whose intelligence enjoys a high level of mystery and capable of facing accusations in the international arena without stirring any internal crisis.
The author had disomfitting remarks concerning the crime scene of the assassination. Any intelligence service, no matter how small or insignificant, knows in advance the presence of CCTV cameras in hotels. This is not the hit squad’s first assassination, still they were seen calm with wide smiles and looking directly at the cameras. It seemed as if the Mossad is acting in its own home and yard, especially when dispatching this large number of operatives to assassinate one individual, not to mention that they have the unequalled advantage of surprise factor. What happened was considered on the Israeli level 'a tactical success but a strategic failure.
The Author's Security Profile
The book gains its significance from its author's notable security background in Israel. Yommi Eini has worked long years in Israel's "intelligence society," and is considered one of the leading founders of the Unit 8200 known as the treasure of the Israeli intelligence corps. This unit has provided the various Israeli security services with unparalleled quantitative and qualitative information of huge strategic value, presenting it to the Israeli decision-makers on both the political and military levels.
Eini reached high ranks in this unit, being in charge of the collection unit in the Israeli southern command, and participated in the six-days-war of 1967 when his intelligence activity played an important role in accomplishing the job so fast.
Later, Eini joined the Mossad where he was in charge of its executive offices in some European and African countries. He is owed a major role in the establishment and reform of the Research Department in the Mossad, that enabled this department of playing a crucial role in the fast transmission of information to decision-makers in the government and the army.
After his retirement from the military in 1976, with a total of 24 years of continuous service, Eini embarked on a business career that mainly focused on trade exchange with Arab countries especially Syria and Lebanon (that do not recognize Israel as a state); through his business, Eini succeeded in recruiting a number of agents and spies for the Mossad.
His intimate companions affirm that he has miraculously survived death twice during his intelligence career, one time was when Hizbullah's military commander Imad Mughniyah allured him with an Ukrainian lady, but Eini's alertness saved him in the last moment.
Eini holds a BA in the history of the Middle East and political science, and an MA in behavioral science. He is also a graduate of the Israeli Forces' staff college's most advanced intelligence course. He commands expert knowledge of Arabic. He has published thirteen books revolving around his security and intelligence career, some of which were translated to other languages like Arabic, English and Russian. Most significant among his publications are: The Syrian Army, The Leap of the Condor (Secret Love), and the Towers of New York.
Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, 9/2/2011