Dubai Assassination Tied to Israel and U.S.

The invaluable Paul Woodward of War in Context has been closely following the assassination of Mahmoud al Mahbouh in Dubai. The story’s been unraveling like a brilliant spy novel (or not-so-brilliant spy) right on Paul’s blog, where he’s been highlighting news clips and giving his usual incisive commentary.

Though Israel has staunchly denied any involvement, all signs seem to point to Israel’s Mossad as the culprits of the hotel room murder. And it looks like they tread about as lightly as a Merkava.

Today Paul picks up on a Wall Street Journal article that links the money trail of the assassins to financial institutions in the U.S., including one with an apparent Israeli at the helm:

The company Payoneer Inc., based in New York, has been named in the case – a company that helps facilitate Taglit-Birthright Israel trips. Payoneer provides financial services for trip participants and as the Wall Street Journal reports, the company’s chief executive, Yuval Tal, is a former Israeli special-forces soldier.

Tal appeared on Fox News during the 2006 Israeli war against Lebanon, notes the Journal.

The paper also mentions that the incident has started to diplomatically affect the U.S.:

United Arab Emirates officials have contacted U.S. authorities for assistance in the probe, according to a person familiar with the situation. (Dubai is one of seven emirates that make up the U.A.E.) A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi declined to comment.

No comment, as yet. I wonder if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will look into the incident and request that Israel cooperate in an investigation as British and Irish foreign ministers did with regards to forged passports from their countries. (Australia, Germany, and France, whose passports were also used, have yet to make such a request.) Israeli F.M. Avigdor Lieberman rejected the pleas, denying involvement in the incident and blaming it on Arabs, natch.

Somehow, I doubt Clinton will come knocking. Which makes me wonder:

With Israel’s right wing leadership repeatedly making a mockery of the U.S. administration, why didn’t Israel just sic one of its new ‘super-drones’ on al Mahbouh.  After all, that’s the U.S.’s chosen method for covert extraterritorial assassinations, and you wouldn’t have to bother with all those Europeans.

Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.



  1. Important piece. The headline gave me a start, as I thought you might be implicating the U.S. government in the killing. But I see you aren’t.

    No question the Dubai affair was Mossad. I thought the Iranian physicist’s murder was, too. Anybody have any new info on that?

    Are you being tongue-in-cheek about the drone option? No deniability there, whereas an assassination successfully carried out by human operatives can (however implausibly) be denied. And what platform for the drone was within range? What about collateral damage?

    Here we (i.e., the U.S.) are, in effect, enabling murder by the Israelis. And yet where is the outrage? Where are the signs of the U.S. public distancing itself from this rogue state? Will anything the Israelis do provoke revulsion in the U.S. body politic?

  2. The US public won’t demand we break with Israel. We will most likely just continue to go down the toilet with Israel.

    ..Unless you have a magic wand to zap the US media into actually telling the truth and reporting news about Israel-Palestine, the whole US-Isr scheme and the Israel fetish in congress that regularly screws the US interest.

    Here’s the kind of thing about Israel and their “operatives” in the US that would get our average Joe Blow’s going though. I was poking around Ackerman’s site the other day and looked at his pork request for 2010. $10,000,000 for a hospital to be built in a city in Israel.

    No joke…another 10 mil more for Isr sneaked into pork in the midst of the US’s own health care, unemployment and financial crisis.

    You know some Jews get all upset when anyone likens their loyalty to Israel to the old canards of not being loyal to the countries they live in.
    Rightly so, of course because it isn’t accurate to apply that collectively to all Jews. But it’s also not accurate to say there are no well connected Jewish hierarchy groups in the US that see the US and it’s people as simple minded fools and nothing more than a bottomless pit of money and power to be used for Israel’s benefit.

  3. The US body politic cannot rouse itself when the Justice Department harbors torture advocates (Yoo, Bybee, Bradbury), and fails to properly investigate Guantanamo “suicides,” let alone care what Israeli assassination squads are up to. The US body politic, with at least a modicum of outrage, watched the shooting into the fishbowl Gaza with the outcome being near unanimous consent from Congress that Israel was justified, blameless… That Jew Goldstone is a traitor to his people…

    No, we have no outrage. Nothing surprises us or outrages us anymore…

  4. Curious, where is the call to investigate Obama’s continued assassination (via drones) of people within Pakistan?

    I must have missed it. I’m sure that article is floating around here somewhere.

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