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Was Hamas Weapons Man Killed by Mossad?

Sure looks that way

Marc Tracy
February 01, 2010
Hamas chief Khaled Meshal speaking yesterday about the death.(Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images)
Hamas chief Khaled Meshal speaking yesterday about the death.(Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images)

Reporting from the Herzliya Conference for Tablet Magazine, Judith Miller notes that the death of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the Hamas official thought to be the crucial weapons-smuggling link between the group and Iran, certainly bears all the trappings of Israel’s intelligence service: “The strike was vintage Mossad—precise, without fingerprints, and deniable, the kind of operation in which [Meir] Dagan has specialized since becoming chief of the spy agency seven years ago.” It would be a stretch simply to report that Mossad is responsible for the fact that al-Mabhouh is no longer alive. However, at this point, it would probably count as surprising if it turned out Mossad wasn’t responsible.

For what they’re worth, a couple interesting facts:
• Al-Mabhouh’s body was actually discovered all the way back on January 20th; the death was announced nine days later, and even then only quietly.
• Though he usually travels with bodyguards and under an assumed name, on this trip—said to be directly related to arms smuggling—al-Mabhouh traveled as himself and with no apparent protection.
• He was reportedly injected with a drug that induces heart attack.
• The alleged hit squad reportedly photographed the contents of his briefcase and, upon leaving his room, left the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the doorknob.
• The alleged squad’s members held passports from several different European countries.
• Hamas thinks Israel did it.
• According to Miller, al-Mabhouh has been on Israel’s hit list for two decades.

A couple questions. What happens if it gets out, and is credibly accepted, that Mossad was indeed behind this? Does any negative P.R. outweigh the presumably positive consequences of eliminating this weapons link for Hamas?

Also: was Mossad also behind the slain Iranian nuclear scientist?

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.