The man found dead under unclear circumstances in a Dubai hotel room almost two weeks ago was one of the heads of a joint Hamas-Iranian apparatus arranging and overseeing the smuggling of rockets, weapons, explosives, and trained Palestinian terrorists from Iran into the Gaza Strip.
This also appears to be the reason al-Mabhouh arrived in Dubai on January 19. The Persian Gulf emirate serves as a center for civilian cover companies through which Iran and its allies disguise the import and export of weapons and strategic materials serving terrorists and the Iranian nuclear program.
Dubai is home to the headquarters and branches of international trade and shipping companies from which Iran purchases and transports military products prohibited by the Security Council sanctions imposed on it.
Hamas was quick to determine that al-Mabhouh was assassinated by the Mossad. Hamas heads, and particularly its political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal, have good reason to suspect Israel is behind the killing. In 1997, Mossad agents attempted to assassinate Mashaal himself in Jordan by using some kind of poison administered to his ear. The unconscious Mashaal was hospitalized in a Jordanian hospital and his life was saved only due to King Hussein’s insistence that Israel send the antidote to Amman.
Mossad’s high capabilitiesThe lethal symptoms attributed to al-Mabhouh are very similar to the ones suffered by Mashaal in the wake of the assassination attempt. Moreover, Israel has good reason to settle the score with al-Mabhouh, who was among the founders of Hamas’ military wing, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, during the first Intifada. Most of all, he planned and played an active role in the abduction and murder of two IDF soldiers, Avi Sasportas and Ilan Saadon.
After his involvement was revealed, the IDF and Shin Bet launched a manhunt for him and even blew up his Gaza Strip home. Yet al-Mabhouh was able to escape unharmed and fled to Egypt and from there to Libya and to Sudan. He eventually arrived in Damascus and joined the operational headquarters supporting Izz al-Din al-Qassam operations in the Strip from abroad.
According to Hamas sources, al-Mabhouh attempted to execute further abductions as of late. Hence, Hamas may assume that Israel had an interest in killing him in order to send a warning signal to the Hamas activists who abducted and are holding Gilad Shalit; at the top of this list we find Muhammad al-Jabari, the current Izz al-Din al-Qassam commander in the Strip.
If Hamas is indeed correct to accuse the Mossad of orchestrating al-Mabhouh’s death, the operation attests to very high capabilities by Israel’s spy agency in respect to monitoring the movements of Hamas men and reaching them. Al-Mabhouh was not a senior figure like terror mastermind Imad Mugniyah in Hezbollah, but we can see similarities between their acts over the years and the roles they played at the time of their mysterious deaths.