Meir Dagan, the director of the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence organization allegedly behind the assassination of Mahmoud Al Mabhouh

Police in Dubai are just now starting to release information regarding an assassination that occurred nearly a month ago. On January 19, top Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was found dead in his Dubai hotel room with a number of electric shocks on his body, and blood on a pillow was indicative of suffocation. According to sources, a team of professional assassins carrying European passports murdered al-Mabhouh.

Al-Mabhouh was an official of Hamas’ military wing and had been on the Israeli most-wanted list for over 20 years. He was responsible for the kidnapping and murder of two Israeli soldiers in 1989, yet Israel has not denied or confirmed any connection with the assassination. Furthermore, Dubai police have stated that there is not enough evidence to associate the attack with Israel, or any other organization. However, at al-Mabhouh’s funeral there seemed to be little doubt that Mossad, Israel’s equivalent to the C.I.A. was behind the assassination. In fact, al-Mabhouh’s mother has gone on record saying that she had been expecting his assassination for years.

According to analysts, policies by which governments secretly authorize the assassination of targets offer two benefits. First, if evidence cannot link the assassination to a government, there can be no international response resulting in sanctions. Additionally, if a nation is falsely accused of carrying out such an attack, it only strengthens the country’s reputation by weakening the credibility of its detractors and further enables it to eliminate targets whenever it deems necessary.

Although policies that engage in covert assassination may be effective, there is something highly disturbing about the process by which they are carried out. Top-secret assassinations offer little to no accountability to a nation’s citizens. Governments ought to act as representatives of their citizens, so it is disturbing to think that governments are engaging in policies that would not be approved by their nation’s people. The assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh is just another reminder of the top-secret world that governments and intelligence agencies operate within—a world that we have little access to.

(Article by Dan Rebnord. He can be reached at derebnor@wustl.edu)

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