We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) November 14, 2012
It’s an impressive bit of video but little is known about the drone or its origins:
From the moment that it was identified, a squadron of F-16I fighter jets were scrambled from the Ramon airbase in the Negev, and accompanied the UAV. The air force was able to shoot down the UAV at any time, but chose to fly along with it for several minutes. For safety reasons, the air force took a decision to shoot down the UAV over the northern Negev.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz received real-time updates throughout the incident, the IDF said.
IDF ground forces collected the fragments and were analyzing them.The IDF did not believe that the UAV was on an attack mission, but rather sent to gather intelligence. There were no explosives attached to the air craft, and it did not originate in the Gaza Strip, contrary to Palestinian reports.
It remains unclear where the UAV took off from.
While facts are hard to come by at the moment speculation is tightly focused on Lebanon, Hezbollah, and of course Iran. And it should be. Miri Regev, a former IDF spokeswoman, quickly offered her thoughts on her Facebook page:
This may have been something like Hezbollah’s Mirsad-1 but I haven’t seen any mention of that specific platform. It would be helpful if there was a less destructive way to take these out of the sky so they could be analyzed. The giant fireball of death brought forth by the IDF is cool and all but it probably doesn’t leave much to look at.
Anyway, is going to be a increasingly common challenge for Israel. There are plenty of state sponsored bad actors who can get within drone distance of their territory and that problem isn’t going away. However, this technology is getting cheaper and more accessible by the minute. State sponsorship or particularly deep pockets are not required to build a moderately capable UAV and it is getting easier and cheaper with each passing day. Building and deploying weaponized UAVs poses an even greater challenge but advancing technology continues to boost the killing power of the individual and so that too will get easier and more common.
Still, DIY ISR and weapon delivery platforms are likely to remain just an annoyance for some time. The value of the intelligence they generate is questionable at best. And if the aim is to kill or destroy the impact will be minimal unless someone gets extremely creative with the payload. In most cases these platforms are more likely to benefit conventional forces, rather than non-state actors, who can deploy them with greater frequency and effectiveness.
Michael Ross was born in Canada and served as a soldier in a combat unit of the Israel Defence Forces prior to being recruited as a “combatant,” (a term designating a deep-cover operative tasked with working in hostile milieus) in Israel’s legendary secret intelligence service, the Mossad. In his 13 year career with the Mossad, Ross was also a case officer in Africa and South East Asia for three years, and was the Mossad’s counterterrorism liaison officer to the CIA and FBI for two-and-a-half years. Ross is a published writer and commentator on Near Eastern affairs, intelligence and terrorism. He is the author of The Volunteer: The Incredible True Story of an Israeli Spy on the Trail of International Terrorists. You can follow him on Twitter.
John Little: You left the Mossad in October 2001. You have cited the isolation and personal sacrifices made (chiefly the impact on your family) during your intelligence career as motivators. With a decade behind you are you happy with your decision? What’s life like for you now?
Michael Ross: To be honest, there are times when I wish I was back in harness simply because it would have been a most interesting and dynamic period to be a spy but then, it wasn’t exactly dullsville during my tenure either as I was in the field when 9/11 occurred. Having said that, I think I was ready to move on to other things and return to Canada. I realized that my lifestyle in Israel didn’t always include meaningful interaction with others outside the profession – which I believe to be an essential element to maintaining good mental health in this business. It’s also important to add parenthetically that my marriage had faltered and while it would be easy to blame this on my work, there is no doubt that it played a contributing factor. My life now is very good although I wish I could see my sons more often. I certainly feel that I have much to contribute in an advisory, teaching or consultancy role given that I had such a unique and rich insider’s view of a part of the world – that for obvious reasons – has an increasing impact on our lives in the west whether we want it to or not.
John Little: The Israeli position is never a dull one is it? I know you moved on in the aftermath of 9/11 but what is your sense of how the Mossad was impacted by those events? The impact on the US intelligence community was, and continues to be, significant. Do you think the Mossad experienced similar expansion, structural changes, or cultural shifts?
Michael Ross: I was off and on in Mossad headquarters well after 9/11 and after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. There were some fundamental changes primarily in the realm of counterterrorism (CT). The branch dedicated to al Qaida – which we called “Global Jihad” due to the amorphous patchwork confederation of Jihadist entities we were dealing with – increased significantly in manpower, resources, and scope. Traditionally, those of us at the sharp end of CT operations were regarded as the poor cousins of the intelligence world. Nobody considered terrorism to be anything more than a major nuisance and we were always reminded by our peers working counter-proliferation that terrorist entities did not constitute any strategic threat to national security in the manner that non-conventional weapons pose. Of course no clear thinking individual thinks that way anymore. In many ways however, the U.S. has been concentrating so much on al Qaida that it has been overlooking other terrorist threats. The Mossad appears to be the only intelligence service that is devoting any significant resources to Hizballah and their Iranian sponsors. It didn’t seem to alarm the U.S. very much that a senior Hizballah commander, Ali Mousa Daqduq, was caught helping Shi’ite militias target coalition forces in Iraq or that the Taliban are carrying Irainian-manufactured weapons.
John Little: And now Hizballah, along with everyone else in this struggle, is trying to cope with the scope, pace, and chaos of the Arab Spring. Despite the opportunity for positive change the landscape has rarely been this unstable and unpredictable. Do you have a sense for how the Mossad is prioritizing and adjusting? How do you think they and their partners in allied intelligence communities should be positioned in this environment?
Michael Ross: Hizballah has been on the ropes for a while now. While they claim that the 2006 war with Israel was a great victory, in the scheme of things, it had a very detrimental effect on this wholly-owned subsidiary of the Iranian regime. Nasrallah is in perpetual hiding and the arch-terrorist, Imad Mughniyeh, is dead leaving behind a significantly diminished operational capability. Hizballah is also in financial dire straits and has lost billions from its coffers (hence the increased criminal enterprises aimed at making money for the organization popping up around the world) but the greatest set-back has been the international pressure on Iran and the civil war in Syria. This has Hizballah very worried because they are not only losing a chief sponsor and logistical corridor in Syria, the Syrian regime has been shooting at Lebanese citizens across the border. For an organization whose raison d’etre is the ostensible defence of Lebanon from foreign threats, this has placed them in a very awkward position. You only have to imagine a scenario where the IDF shoots a Lebanese journalist across the border to grasp the situation. The Lebanese are very savvy and as the body count rises in Syria and the conflict spills over into Lebanon (and it will) with Hizballah supporting the Assad regime, it’s not going to bode well for Hizballah’s already tattered support in Lebanon.
I don’t envy the analysts in the Mossad or the CIA these days. The ground is shifting so quickly underneath their feet, it must be very hard to come up with a cogent analysis of what the future holds anywhere in the region. The Mossad has a clear advantage from a finger-on-the-pulse perspective as it lives in the neighborhood and there is a sense of urgency simply because what happens in Syria can quickly escalate to something on your immediate doorstep as it has with Turkey and Lebanon. Israel has maintained a very low profile throughout the so-called “Arab Spring” but that doesn’t mean it’s asleep and I think this is a very wise course of action. Now is the time for subtlety in Middle East diplomacy and intelligence services should be active partners in determining the best course of action for policymakers to take. It’s one of many reasons why I advocate a hands-off position vis-a-vis Syria.
John Little: There is obviously something to gain for Israel and its allies if Syria transitions to a more reasonable posture but can you foresee a scenario where regime change occurs without also triggering significant downstream violence and weapons proliferation issues? Israel arguably has the most to lose if Syria slips into chaos and chemical weapons fall into the wrong hands. From Israel’s perspective could the unintended consequences of intervention currently pose a bigger threat than Syria itself?
Michael Ross: Knowing the status of and providing options to secure Assad’s prodigious chemical weapons (and deployment systems) arsenal is a top priority for the Mossad and western intelligence services. I participated in an unsuccessful foiling operation against rogue Russian General Anatoly Kunsevich in the late 1990′s who was assisting Syria obtain nerve agents for their Scud missiles. Syria has been developing a non-conventional weapons capability for some time (and until the 2007 Israeli raid on al-Khibar, a nuclear weapons program).
It’s an axiom of the intelligence world to hope for the best but to prepare for the worst and this absolutely applies to Syria right now. First off, I’m not convinced that Assad won’t prevail and successfully crush the uprising. He may end up significantly weaker than he was, but still retain power over the majority of the country. The Allawite regime still enjoys Russian – and to a lesser degree – Chinese support so this civil war is far from over. In fact, right now I see it as a Middle eastern version of the Third Balkan War circa 1992-1995. It could still go in several directions for a long time.
If Assad loses and a strong faction of anti-western jihadists emerges as the dominant power in Syria, a potential scenario arises where a terrorist entity brandishing non-conventional weapons threatens Israel and the west. We have to monitor this situation very closely and especially the intervening foreign factions that could ultimately radicalize Syria. Syria still is a secular nation and its people not easily given to Islamic extremist urges, but we’ve all seen how quickly Islamism can take root when there is a power vacuum in the region. My hope is that the Syrian resistance relies on that strong secular base of support and a new Syria – divested of both Iran and Hezbollah – emerges with a more reasonable geopolitical posture.
John Little: Mossad officers are probably faced with a wider array of hostile operating environments than any other service. As a result they periodically catch some heat for their false-flag operations and cover methods. Some of that criticism has come from “unnamed sources” within the US intelligence community. In your experience do these types of issues ever impact the level of professional cooperation between the Mossad and the US intelligence community or is this background noise?
Michael Ross: There is no doubt that there is a vocal constituency of U.S. intelligence officials that for whatever reason, don’t like the Mossad. It’s been my experience however, that the loudest critics of the Mossad are the furthest from the bilateral intelligence dialogue and operational relationship. The Mossad is indifferent to these critics and it would be fair to say that some of these negative sentiments are reciprocated but at the working level and especially while in the pursuit of joint operational objectives, there is a warm and intimate relationship that is appreciated by both sides.
The negative grumbling really is nothing more than background noise. Mark Perry wrote a piece in Foreign Policy last January describing Mossad officers posing as CIA while in London as a means to recruit Iranian dissidents. The Mossad never uses U.S. cover because of a bilateral agreements and to be frank, U.S. cover is only marginally better than Israeli and to even consider a scenario where it would be conducted in London under the noses of one of the best security services in the world (MI5) is beyond ludicrous. The Mossad also doesn’t need U.S. cover to recruit and train its own cadre of Iranian dissidents. Suffice it to say, you can pretty much say and/or write whatever you want about the Mossad and it will go unchallenged and to be quite frank, as a service it could care less what a journalist or conveniently unnamed CIA official writes or says.
It’s worth noting that it’s the CIA that employs a press office and small army of communications professionals to keep its image untarnished. Imagine if all that money, time and effort were expended in putting case officers in the field to recruit foreign sources of intelligence? The Mossad is on the ground in places where Angels fear to tread and as a result has operational cover imperatives that other services either refuse to employ or take for granted. I find it somewhat ridiculous that competing intelligence services disingenuously make heavy weather out of the fact that the Mossad uses foreign cover to conduct its operations as if this is supposed to be out of bounds. Of course this never stopped any service from accepting the extremely valuable intelligence (obtained at high risk by Mossad combatants and case officers) and shared via the Mossad’s liaison division.
For an interesting insight into the CIA’s organizational culture, I highly recommend my friend Ishmael Jones’ book, “The Human Factor: Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture.” It’s quite an eye-opener.
John Little: While we’re discussing identity and operations – The reconstruction of the 2010 Mahmoud al-Mabhouh assassination highlights the surveillance capabilities increasingly deployed by private entities and local governments and the challenges those systems pose to covert activities. Are technological advances in surveillance, biometrics, and other forms of identity management outpacing tradecraft or are they creating as many opportunities as they are barriers?
Michael Ross: While I believe that there is more to the al-Mahbouh assassination than meets the public eye, there is no doubt that it was a wake-up call for anyone conducting covert operations in these sensitive milieus. Clearly there was a gross underestimation of the willingness of the authorities in Dubai to pursue this case. The overlooked and unreported irony in the whole story is that al-Mahbouh was traveling on alias identities, was known to the Dubai security services, and was conducting clandestine meetings with Iranian officials concerning advanced weapons systems for HAMAS. These activities apparently failed to arouse the interest of the Dubai authorities which in itself says a lot.
Biometrics and advanced surveillance/security systems pose real challenges for covert operations and will affect intelligence service’s overseas clandestine activity on just about every level. This is especially problematic now that European companies like Germany’s Trovicor and Italy’s SpA have been selling and implementing cutting edge hi-tech intelligence platforms aimed at providing rogue regimes with communications interception and monitoring capabilities. Much of this technology has been used in Syria and Iran against dissidents and it’s entirely possible that this technology was used by the regime in Syria to locate foreign journalists in Syria by locating their satellite phone signals. Once you have this geo-location technology, it’s a simple matter to transfer that information to an artillery battery or when spy-catching, to a team of Mukhbarat thugs.
Having said that, one of the Mossad’s great strengths is its incredible ability to innovate and adapt to new obstacles be they technological or otherwise and even more importantly, to engage in a lessons learned process and improve its capabilities. Dubai notwithstanding, the Mossad is also adept at tackling hurdles in advance of the emerging technology. I saw some inventions in the Mossad’s Science and Technology Division that would make anyone in the private sector go very green with envy.
John Little: There were online communities when you were active but I assume they weren’t pervasive enough to require much thought except in very specific cases. Now virtually everyone in the developed world, and many beyond, has a social presence online. Have you thought much about the impact that social media is having on intelligence? The upside from a mass collection / data mining perspective is pretty obvious but it is also presents intelligence professionals with a unique operating environment in its own right doesn’t it?
Michael Ross: Social media and the possibilities for open source intelligence collection have expanded exponentially with the advent of all the various social media platforms available online. It also opens up a whole world of operational cover and networking possibilities that in the past involved a lot of leg-work when I was in harness.
Social media has both strong offensive and defensive elements in its makeup. For a “poacher” like myself, I can mine a considerable amount of data on a potential target for recruitment (including vulnerabilities or avenues for exploitation) long before I even come into any contact with the target. For my “gamekeeper” colleagues in the counterintelligence realm, it offers a number of possibilities in determining potential for attack and what the “poachers” are targeting.
Social media and the internet are a double-edged sword also because they are open to abuse by outfits like Stratfor that sell jargon, open-source information, and fabrication as a finished intelligence product for corporate and government consumers. The other edge of the sword is that people like myself and others can access social media and set the record straight.
The most interesting aspect for me however, is that I can interface with someone in say, Beirut and find out in real time what’s happening in the southern suburbs of that city while I sit at my table Laphroaig at elbow. Now that’s social media.
John Little: The Mossad brand is a powerful force multiplier. It is a relatively small force but its enemies see it lurking everywhere. It has maintained this fearsome image though its share of embarrassing episodes and high profile failures. The organization seems to shrug off mistakes and boldly plow forward. How does the Mossad deal with failure and how much brand self-awareness is there in the senior leadership’s decision making processes? Is there tension between the need to work covertly while still making their presence felt or reinforcing their public image?
Michael Ross: The Mossad brand is very powerful and I have to admit that I am quite surprised by this simply because to me it’s comprised of a small number of human faces that I worked with. Admittedly these are very talented and dedicated people, but people all the same.
Outsiders tend to disproportionately concentrate on the sensationalized subject of assassinations. This comprises probably 0.01% of the Mossad’s activities as an intelligence service. When you put it into perspective, the majority of the Mossad’s time is spent determining and analyzing the intentions of Israel’s enemies using the full suite of collection platforms available – much in the same way as the CIA or MI6. I think people would be surprised by the similarities between top tier intelligence services at the operational level. Much of the tradecraft is similar among these services and it’s a little-known fact but the Mossad was actually based on post-war MI6. If I was to single out the one aspect of the Mossad that remains misunderstood by the public, the media, and other intelligence services, it’s that the Mossad is operating like the OSS or MI6 during the Second World War. Sometimes my colleagues in Washington DC tend to think of Tehran, Damascus, Amman, Cairo and Beirut as distant exotic locales reached after a long jet-lag inducing flight. For the Mossad, they’re next door neighbors in a very unstable and threatening neighbourhhood.
When you are a very active intelligence service operating 24/7 365 days a year then mistakes are going to happen. Some of them have been significant mistakes but the Mossad is a learning organization with a culture of integrating lessons learned. At the completion of every operation, regardless of size and scope, there are sessions where everyone sits down and asks, “How we could we have done that better?” It’s not a punitive process but rather a necessary element to maintaining the upper hand through continual improvement. The Mossad makes mistakes but you never hear of the incredible successes – and they are legion.
The Mossad does not think about or concern itself with image. It never enters into the equation. We know we have a fierce reputation but nobody really thinks or talks about it. The fearsome reputation has been an unintentional consequence of the Mossad simply getting the job done.
John Little: You titled your book “The Volunteer”. What advice do would you give to other volunteers following in your footsteps at the Mossad or other intelligence services? They’re choosing a difficult path aren’t they?
Michael Ross: I don’t think my particular path of recruitment could easily be re-created or is in anyway typical but then I believe that in the Mossad’s case, no two recruitments are ever alike. I know the CIA likes to troll the Ivy League schools but the Mossad is looking for qualities that don’t exclusively involve academic scholarship. I didn’t get to university until later in my career. If you are smart, can think on your feet, cope with uncertainty, and above all maintain a sense of humor in all situations, then you have the prerequisites.Some of the funniest people I know are spies because like good comedians, they have a nose for the absurd and are very keen observers of human nature. Mossad selection is very rigorous but anyone interested should go to their website. Likewise for the CIA and MI6. My only advice is that being a spy is anything but glamorous. A lot of it involves meetings in dingy hotels in third world hell-holes trying to convince some person – often afflicted with only a passing acquaintance with personal hygiene -that they should sell their country’s secrets. Honestly, does it get any more fun than that?
The pro-Pollard buzz that was building in the Israeli press, blogs, and social media channels throughout last year has culminated in an official plea from Netanyahu:
Dear Mr. President,
On behalf of the people of Israel, I am writing to you to request clemency for Jonathan Pollard.
At the time of his arrest, Jonathan Pollard was acting as an agent of the Israeli government. Even though Israel was in no way directing its intelligence efforts against the United States, its actions were wrong and wholly unacceptable. Both Mr. Pollard and the Government of Israel have repeatedly expressed remorse for these actions, and Israel will continue to abide by its commitment that such wrongful actions will never be repeated.
As you know, Mr. President, I have raised the question of Jonathan Pollard’s release numerous times in discussions with your administration and with previous U.S. administrations. Previous Israeli Prime Ministers and Presidents have also requested clemency for Mr. Pollard from your predecessors.
Since Jonathan Pollard has now spent 25 years in prison, I believe that a new request for clemency is highly appropriate. I know that this view is also shared by former senior American officials with knowledge of the case as well as by numerous Members of Congress.
Jonathan Pollard has reportedly served longer in prison than any person convicted of similar crimes, and longer than the period requested by the prosecutors at the time of his plea bargain agreement. Jonathan has suffered greatly for his actions and his health has deteriorated considerably.
I know that the United States is a country based on fairness, justice and mercy. For all these reasons, I respectfully ask that you favorably consider this request for clemency. The people of Israel will be eternally grateful.
Fairness, justice and mercy. These are precisely the reasons why Jonathan Pollard should not see the light of day.
The intelligence community, the one which Jonathan Pollard betrayed, is overwhelmingly composed of patriots. Most of them quietly shoulder the burden of secrecy. They do this, not for personal gain, but because it is a requirement of their service. They tolerate the rules, regulations, and the invasions of privacy. They may struggle with strained relationships, long hours, and sometimes even great personal risk. They do this quietly and at a government pay grade because they are patriots.
For about a year after the time Pollard met Avi Sella, he gathered computer printouts, satellite photographs, and classified documents from his department three times a week and brought them to various Washington apartments. There, they were copied and returned to Pollard, who restored them to the Navy the following day. In exchange for his services Pollard received, in addition to the agreed salary, a lavish collection of gifts for himself and his wife, including a honeymoon in a private compartment aboard the Orient Express.
Pollard did not sacrifice for his country. He traded it for diamond rings, bundles of cash, and expensive vacations. He betrayed every American and every patriot who served with or before him. So yes, fairness is important. How could releasing Pollard to a hero’s welcome in Israel be in any way fair to the countless Americans and patriots he betrayed? Fairness demands some measure of…
Pollard’s apologists have conjured up so many silly arguments over the past two plus decades that (and this is part of their strategy) casual observers may understimate the impact of his betrayal:
Joseph DiGenova, the former U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case, said Tuesday that Pollard was a spy who was paid and who tried to entice others to join his operation.
Mr. DiGenova said Pollard received about $500,000 a year plus expenses for giving intelligence documents to Israeli agents.
“By the time he was caught, he caused enough damage to U.S. intelligence that, according to the Defense Department, it cost between $3 billion and $5 billion to fix because of what he compromised,” Mr. DiGenova said. “That the country he spied for is seeking clemency is not only unprecedented, it is a joke.”
The bits and pieces of the Pollard damage assessment that have leaked out over the years are shocking. It’s easy to understand why the U.S. intelligence community continues to oppose his release:
THE men and women of the National Security Agency live in a world of chaotic bleeps, buzzes, and whistles, and talk to each other about frequencies, spectrums, modulation, and bandwidth — the stuff of Tom Clancy novels. They often deal with signals intelligence, or SIGINT, and their world is kept in order by an in-house manual known as the RASIN an acronym for radio-signal notations. The manual, which is classified “top-secret Umbra,” fills ten volumes, is constantly updated, and lists the physical parameters of every known signal. Pollard took it all. “It’s the Bible,” one former communications-intelligence officer told me. “It tells how we collect signals anywhere in the world.” The site, frequency, and significant features of Israeli communications — those that were known and targeted by the N.S.A. — were in the RASIN; so were all the known communications links used by the Soviet Union.
The loss of the RASIN was especially embarrassing to the Navy, I was told by the retired admiral, because the copy that Pollard photocopied belonged to the Office of Naval Intelligence. “He went into our library, found we had an out-of-date version, requested a new one, and passed it on,” the officer said. “I was surprised we even had it.”
The RASIN theft was one of the specifics cited in Defense Secretary Weinberger’s still secret declaration to the court before Pollard’s sentencing hearing. In fact, the hearing’s most dramatic moment came when Pollard’s attorney, Richard A. Hibey, readily acknowledged his client’s guilt but argued that the extent of the damage to American national security did not call for the imposition of a maximum sentence. “I would ask you to think about the Secretary of Defense’s affidavit, as it related to only one thing,” Judge Robinson interjected, “with reference to one particular category of publication, and I fail to see how you can make that argument.” He invited Hibey to approach the bench, along with the Justice Department attorneys, and the group spent a few moments reviewing what government officials told me was Weinberger’s account of the importance of the RAISIN. One Justice Department official, recalling those moments with obvious pleasure, said that the RASIN was the ninth item on the Weinberger damage-assessment list.
The compromise of RASIN alone would justify life in prison but the piece goes on to detail the compromise of the Rota reports, DIAL-COINS, and the National SIGINT Requirements List. Pollard compromised not only individual intelligence systems and methods. He compromised the security of every single American citizen. So please Mr. Netanyahu don’t talk to us about justice. Justice was served and it was served with…
Jonathan Pollard is alive. He is alive after betraying the patriots at his side. He is alive after betraying the government which trusted him. He is alive after betraying those who fought and died, sometimes quietly and without public acknowledgment, for this country. He is alive after betraying every single American man, woman, and child. Jonathan Pollard is alive and he is treated humanely. He is a living testimony to our mercy.
As I have said before, I support Israel as an ally. I even respect Mr. Netanyahu’s (now) persistent support of the spy Israel once betrayed. However, Jonathan Pollard was never a harmlessly naive ideologue. His betrayal was cold, calculated, and immensely damaging. May he stay in prison indefinitely where he can reflect on America’s fairness, justice, and mercy.
I will leave you with video of Jonathan Pollard in action:
Wikipedia Bio: Mahmoud al-Mabhouh
Mahmoud Abdel Rauf al-Mabhouh (February 14, 1960 – January 19, 2010) was a senior Hamas military commander and one of the founders of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Al-Mabhouh was assassinated in the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel in Dubai on January 19, 2010, having arrived in the country earlier that day from Syria. It is suspected by Dubai police that he was murdered in his own hotel room, with accounts of the cause of death ranging from suffocation to electrocution. A controversy over the murder has arisen over speculation that it was an Israeli government sanctioned assassination
Israeli Envoys Meet British, Irish officials over Dubai Killing
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the government was determined to get to the bottom of the passport issue in the international murder mystery, in which the official was killed last month in his Dubai hotel room.
Miliband Denies Going Soft on Israel over ‘Mossad’ Killing
The Foreign Secretary insisted today that Britain was not “going through the motions” over the cloning of six British passports in a suspected Mossad assassination after Israel’s Ambassador denied he was rebuked by the Government.
Miliband: Israel Must ‘Cooperate Fully’ in Fake Passport Probe
Israel’s ambassador to the Republic of Ireland, Zion Evroni, said Wednesday that he too had received a summons from the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs and would be meet Minister Michael Martin on Thursday. In Jerusalem, Foreign Ministry officials declined to comment on the matter, but an Israeli diplomat said on condition of anonymity that the government has decided to withhold a public statement until the British message is received, and would then choose how to respond.
Six More Hunted in Dubai Assassination
The identities of the new six have not yet been made public, but among the group there is thought to be at least one more female in addition to the woman originally identified as “Gail Folliard from Ireland”, until the Irish authorities said that no such person existed. The second, as yet unnamed woman, was caught on CCTV camera following al-Mabhouh to his hotel room and identifying him at close quarters, before other members of the team moved in for the kill. She had arrived at the hotel dressed as a tourist and wearing a large summer hat and was accompanied by a large man in a Panama hat and beard.
France Demands Israel Explain Dubai Passport Affair
“We are asking for explanations from Israel’s embassy in France over the circumstances of the use of a fake French passport in the assassination of a Hamas member in Dubai,” the Foreign Ministry said in an electronic news briefing.
UK, Ireland Envoys: ‘Nothing to Add’
Ambassador Zion Evrony said after the hour-long meeting he had nothing useful to tell Ireland because he knew nothing confidential about the Dubai assassination.
Analysis: Dubai Hit Was Not a Botched Job
Irrespective of who carried out the January 19 assassination of senior Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, the operation was meticulously planned and successfully executed, and despite a surprisingly impressive investigation by Dubai police, the hit cannot be considered a botched job.
Analysis: Long-Term Fallout with UK from Dubai Hit Unlikely
While the British government (and the governments of France and Ireland, whose passports were also reportedly used in the operation) will be understandably angry, past experience shows that disputes in this area tend to be treated as belonging to the special, sealed-off category of ‘national security.’ Where states have good reasons to maintain healthy ties with one another, such incidents are rarely allowed to muddy the waters for long.
‘Israelis with Names on Assassins’ Passports not Protected’
Israeli law protects citizens from privacy violations, but not necessarily that of the seven Israelis whose names appeared on passports allegedly used by the team that assassinated Mabhouh.
Worth Watching: haaretzonline