Friday, February 5, 2010

Justice, Israeli Style

On January 20th last, Mahmoud Al Mabhoud was found dead in his hotel room in Dubai. It is believed he suffered an electric shock before he was smothered and poisoned. Al Mabhoud was a Syrian based Hamas operative who allegedly was the organiser of a weapons smuggling operation that transported arms from Iran to Gaza. It's pretty obvious that this was not the work of an irate hooker or a rival terrorist group as they will no doubt claim in Jerusalem. This was Mossad doing what they do best, making Israel's enemies terrified for their lives, no matter where they go.

So, was it murder or legitimate war time assassination. In my opinion it was murder and if it happened in Ireland I would expect the Gardai to go after these boys big time as if it were your average gangland "hit". There is in my mind too thin a line between stalking a guy, smothering him with a poison soaked pillow and the world of Tony Soprano. Having said all that I kind of admire the guts (I think the Jews call it chutzpah) and the honesty of the Israelis to say "we can fight dirty too". The Brits participated in dozens of extra judicial killings in the North but rather that do it themselves they merely contracted the job out to loyalist terrorists. At least the Israeli's do their own dirty work even though I am a bit miffed that the Mossad apparently used Irish passports to sneak into Dubai. I can't imagine the Department of Foreign Affairs will be too pleased either. I would say Mossad are dreading that phone call from Micheal Martin.


Paul said...

'So, was it murder or legitimate war time assassination’? Surely you can see how an ambiguous statement like 'legitimate war time assassination' is a cover all for murder anyway? I can and will condone say a Predator strike against an Al Qaeda member in Pakistan. But if the Israelis did murder their man in this fashion then that is a step too far. However as I'm sure you're aware what is widely believed by Arabs to be the work of Mossad is frequently not that.

I could comment at length about your statement Re Loyalists being 'contracted'. However there are quite rightly so ongoing legal inquiries into these and other matters. However I will say that whilst I firmly believe some collusion occurred at a local level in places like Portadown; it was not government policy. In fact the UK government imprisoned more Loyalists than Republicans by the early 90's. I understand why you say what you say. Indeed some individuals involved in Loyalist terrorism do look like State actors. However they weren't, or if they were no more than the likes Of Stakeknife etc were on the other side. I could go on but don't want to get subpoenaed!

If you want a good source for explaining the killings by some sectors of the UK state apparatus. Mark Urban's 'Big boys Rules' is perhaps the best. However that is a separate subject to collusion.

Ted Leddy said...

Thanks Paul as always for your articulate comments.

Believe me I know from my time in the Arab World that many Arabs blame Mossad for bad weather. However in this case I suspect the accusations are accurate.

Regarding drone strikes versus assassinations like in Dubai. I wonder if sometimes we are too squeamish. Bill O'Reilly made an excellent point recently on fox news. Water boarding is seen as torture, assassination as murder, but a drone strike is acceptable. But it is the latter that will cause civilian casualties. O'Reilly says that if he were President he would find the decision of whether or not to order a drone strike where there might be innocent civilians nearby, a more difficult decision than having a known terrorist assassinated or tortured. Its an interesting point. But as you pointed out, legitimate assassination is a vague term that could be used to justify anything.

Regarding the North, my view is simple. It was a dirty disgusting war full of informers, counter informers, infiltration and collusion where nobody comes out clean. I come from a nationalist background but I never had a glamorous view of the sectarian slaughter that occurred.

I will definitely look out for mark Urban's book.

Paul said...

You make a good point about assassinations of course. However there is really no clean way of doing it. The Lillehammer affair from 1978 I think (look it up on Wiki if you want) was a case in point. An Algerian waiter in Lillehammer was murdered by Mossad who took him for a Black September member. I think the Israelis were right to go after those guys, not least as Europe at that time could not be trusted to arrest and lawfully extradite such people. About this guy in Dubai, I would have to be convinced that he posed a real and present serious threat to Israel for him to meet such a fate. Otherwise it is murder and revenge.

On the North aye agree on what you say. I do wish however that some from the British side were less reticent in explaining some actions. The conflict was vicious and tragic, but the UK should say ‘look we fought a war’. Rather than these attempts to employ double speak and fudge issues legally. For instance the law rightfully imposes upon the State a duty to only employ lethal force as a last resort or for self defence. However Urban’s work clearly shows that during 1976-78 and 1983-1992 the SAS shot armed terrorists whenever they encountered them. Such actions can be justified militarily and to some people morally. But they are not legal even though the Soldiers themselves always cited self defence in their statements to inquests. But the war was vicious and the Provos themselves never took prisoners. Just glad it’s over more or less. Another cracking and indeed rather chilling work is Toby Harnden’s ‘Bandit Country’. It only mentions the SAS with regards to a couple of operations. But it does show what the Troubles was like for ordinary people, the ‘players’ and the British themselves in South Armagh. It reads a bit like a microcosm of the troubles and some of the other issues we have already discussed.

Ted Leddy said...


I think you nailed it really. If the Dubai assassination was about ridding Israel of a high level terrorist who killed and was going to continue to kill then it would be difficult to argue with it. But if the target does not pose a "real and present serious threat" then it smacks of revenge, and that is too gangster like for me.

I was aware of the Lillehammer incident. It was like an innocent bystander getting killed in a feud between criminals.

Interesting points on the north. I think you would have been pleased with the performance of a former British soldier who appeared on Irish TV on our prime time Talk show "The Late Late Show" last Friday night. He appeared alongside a man who he blinded 30 years before when he shot him with a plastic bullet. The man was a ten year old boy at the time. The former soldier deeply regretted the situation and fully acknowledged the catastrophic effect him pulling the trigger had on the man's life. However he was not particularly apologetic. He blamed the situation. He said it was his intention to disperse a crowd of rioters, not blind a ten year old boy. It was an excellent piece of TV.

I am aware of "Bandit Country". Never read it though, its on my list of must reads.