Daniel R. DePetris: The Political Docket

Who Assassinated a Senior Hamas Commander in Dubai?

Posted in Middle East and North Africa by Dan on February 17, 2010

UPDATE:  The British Government has asked the Israeli Ambassador to the U.K. for a meeting in order to discuss the assassination case further.

Close to a month ago, a group of hit-men in Dubai killed a senior Hamas commander in his hotel room.  Apart from the obvious question of why UAE authorities had absolutely no idea that their country was hosting an assassination plot, one has to wonder who actually conducted the attack.  Was this assassination ordered by a government, or a non-state organization?  Was the killing payback for something we don’t yet know about, or is there something deeper to the entire affair?

There are a couple of possibilities here.  The first and obvious party that could have sponsored and ordered the assassination is Israel’s Mossad.  Over the last decade- indeed over the last few years- Israel has been responsible for a number of targeted killings, both against Hamas militants and against Hezbollah commanders.  The assassination of a top Hezbollah figure in Damascus in 2007 is the most recent example of Israeli fortitude.  If Mossad can infiltrate into a hostile Arab country and successfully carry out a national-security mission, there is no challenge that the Mossad can’t meet.  The fact that 7 out of 11 passports used by the hit-men were traced back to Israel only adds some more skepticism to the equation.  Evidence seems to have the markings of a typical Israeli operation; use fake passports, assemble an effective team and execute the killing on foreign soil, away from Israeli territory.

The Palestinian Liberation Organization or perhaps Fatah could also be a possibility (either with or without Mahmoud Abbas’ blessing).  Fatah is already carrying out an extensive campaign of sabotage against Hamas, particularly in the West Bank where secular Palestinians desperately want to exert control.  Islamic preachers sympathetic to the Hamas movement are being arrested by the dozens, and mosques that are considered headquarters for militants in the West Bank are being shut down.  And of course, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there is an extreme rivalry between Hamas and Fatah in Palestinian politics.  Each side is trying to one-up the other, and perhaps killing a top Hamas military commander is part of the game.  It’s cynical, but again…within the realm of possibility.

Maybe the hit-men involved in the murder were just rogues taking matter into their own hands, for whatever reason.  But this seems too simplistic.

A business deal gone bad?  Who knows, I suck at economics.

I’m relying on CNN, the New York Times, Newsweek, and ForeignPolicy.com to start providing some details in the next few days.

-Daniel R. DePetris

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**Comments courtesy of Newsweek’s Declassified**


5 Responses

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  1. alhart4newsweek said, on February 17, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Why are governments using such lame security? All passports should be verified online with a biometric such as thumb print from the passport holder. Carrying around an easily forged document and expecting that to be secure is completely negligent.

    • jstumbo said, on February 17, 2010 at 6:22 pm


      With how much computer systems get hacked, could you imagine how secure the servers would be that contained the passport information for every country in the world? Each country would have its own system, and some would not be very secure.

      • ntincny said, on February 17, 2010 at 6:25 pm

        @ jstumbo

        And problem with computer security, is that it ALL can be hacked. Even the latest in quantum encryption that uses photons… If someone wants the information bad enough, they will get it.

  2. DS9A said, on February 17, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    when I worked for NSA and the DIA I had a Spanish and a couple of other passports all supplied to me – each country does it – but it will be interesting when all passports are electronic and the information on them can be verified like fingerprints.

  3. dubai7 said, on February 18, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    dubai police is behind these people and they will be in prison

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