According to the official police report, the killers first injected Al-Mabhouh with a poison, then smothered him with a pillow. Saeed Hamiri, M.D., of the Dubai forensic lab, said the crime-scene investigators found a trickle of blood on Al-Mabhouh’s pillow, bruises on his nose, face, and neck, and an injection mark on his right hip. Along with signs of struggle in the room—a damaged headboard, for example—these details would seem to suggest that the target was smothered to death. But one has to wonder about the plausibility of these conclusions. (The Dubai chief of police did not respond to several requests from GQ for an interview.)
Why did the Mossad permit things to go so wrong in Dubai? In a word, the answer is leadership. Because Dagan refashioned the Mossad in his own image, and because he drove out anyone who was willing to question his decisions, there was no one in the agency to tell him that the Dubai operation was badly conceived and badly planned. They simply did not believe that a minnow in the world of intelligence services such as Dubai would be any match for Israel’s Caesarea fighters.
Wow, what a cool article and it really shed some light on this assassination performed by the Mossad’s Caesarea. I posted a deal about this incident when it first came out and it was very interesting to see how this played out on the world stage.
Of course some folks called it an embarrassment for the Israelis, because the operatives and operation were revealed by the Dubai police. And others called it a success and that maybe the Israelis wanted to show the world that the finest security out there could not stop them from doing what they had to do. Either way, the Hamas jackass they targeted is dead.
Now that some time has passed and folks have been able to put the pieces together, we are now getting a better picture on how this went down. I didn’t know back then if they used poison or a stun gun to incapacitate Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, so that they could smother him with a pillow. I guess it was poison and toxicology boiled it down to succinylcholine. *
But with this stuff, the drug itself could have killed him. The pillow could have been used to muffle the target’s voice while waiting for the drug to do it’s thing. The big benefit of this drug is that it is one of the fastest acting muscle relaxants out there, so the struggle would have been minimal.
The other part of this story that was interesting, was the commentary on Dagan–Mossad’s director. If it is true that he is not seeking feedback or other people’s opinions then that is not good. Ultimately, an organization must be a learning organization if it wants to continuously improve. And because Dagan has forced out or shut down anyone that disagrees with him, now he is at the mercy of what Irving Janis calls groupthink. Not good. –Matt
One year ago, an elite Mossad hit squad traveled to Dubai to kill a high-ranking member of Hamas. They completed the mission, but their covers were blown, and Israel was humiliated by the twenty-seven-minute video of their movements that was posted online for all the world to see. Ronen Bergman reveals the intricate, chilling details of the mission and investigates how Israel’s vaunted spy agency did things so spectacularly wrong
By Ronen Bergman
Monday, January 18, 2010. MorningAt 6:45 a.m., the first members of an Israeli hit squad land at Dubai International Airport and fan out through the city to await further instructions. Over the next nineteen hours, the rest of the team—at least twenty-seven members—will arrive on flights from Zurich, Rome, Paris, and Frankfurt. They have come to kill a man named Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, a Hamas leader whose code name within the Mossad—the Israeli intelligence agency—is Plasma Screen.
Most of the operatives here are members of a secretive unit within the Mossad known as Caesarea, a self-contained organization that is responsible for the agency’s most dangerous and critical missions: assassinations, sabotage, penetration of high-security installations. Caesarea’s “fighters,” as they are known, are the elite of the Mossad. They rarely interact with other operatives and stay away from Mossad headquarters north of Tel Aviv, instead undergoing intensive training at a separate facility to which no one else in the agency has access. They are forbidden from ever using their real names, even in private conversation, and—with the exception of their spouses—their families and closest friends are unaware of what they do. As one longtime Caesarea fighter recently told me, “If the Mossad is the temple of Israel’s intelligence community, then Caesarea is its holy of holies.”