MahmoudAl Mabhouh Assassination

Backgroundof individual or operation

JabaliaCamp in Gaza Strip was the birthplace of Al-Mabhouh. During his earlyyears, he tried some professions before becoming a renownedterrorist. Some of these professions included car mechanic, weightlifter, and even a garage owner. In his 20s, he opted to join theMuslim Brotherhood, where he was mainly involved in attacking coffeeshops. He was later arrested and charged with assault riflepossession. It was during his time in the Israeli prison that he gotentangled with the Hamas the group he joined immediately after beingreleased. Targeting high-profile Israeli, were some of the terroristactivities that Al-Mabhouh was tasked with when working as anoperative for the al-Qassam Brigades. He was promoted to the levelwhere he was supervising the procurement of weapons for the militiagroup because his hard work and dedication towards the al-QassamBrigades.Also, he wasinvolvedin forging connections that linked the Al-Quds Force and thegovernment of Hamas (Russell, 2013).

Mahmoudsuccumbed to his death in Dubai, on January 2010. His arrival inDubai was not legal as he had entered the country with a forgedpassport under an alias name. Postmortem report suggested that beforedying his killers took the initiative of drugging him beforesuffocating him with oneof the pillows that was in the room where his cold body was found(Russell, 2013).

Thethesis of the paper is that, although terrorism is bad, it is notupto the intelligence agencies to take the law into their own hand.

Targetsof espionage or intelligence activity

Overthe years, espionage was focused on acquiring military orintelligence from other organizations or countries throughunscrupulous means. Although the primary targets are still important,espionage has now spread and evolved into other fields likeengineering, scientific research, IT and communication technologies.Now the targets are not just governments but also commercial firmsand agencies.

Intelligenceagencies have that specific task that they give to a squad that istasked with a given espionage act. For example, in the MahmoudAl-Mabhouh assassination, it is clear that the intelligence agencywas directed to make the Hamas operative in question the primarytarget. Military secrets, industrial secrets, political secrets, andtargeting dissidents are a common target of espionage.

Undermilitary secrets, espionage may be used to gather sensitiveinformation regarding weapons, coordinates, and movement of wartroops or even the defense database of the military. It is from theinformation gathered here, that the enemy country can use to launch asuccessful attack as they already know the weak points of theiropponents (Goodman, 2016).

Whenit comes to industries as a target for espionage, the focus isusually on the products of the targeted industries as well as theirplan and even future projections. Here the target of the espionageact is to get hold of a commercial product or even future inventionsof the industry to enable the beneficiary to have an advantage overits competitors.

Whenthe act of espionage is targeting political secrets, the focus ismainly on getting confidential information on politicians so that infuture they can use the knowledge to focus the person who was atarget into doing something that he or she might not be willing to dounder normal circumstance,

Anothertarget of espionage that is somehow unique when compared to othertargets is where the act is targeting dissidents. Mainly, governmenttargets the movements of those individuals that they feel may be athreat to their nation. A good example of this can be the case ofMahmoud, who was tracked by the Israeli government.

Typesof covert activity and tradecraft

Therea quite some covert activities and tradecrafts that can be used inespionage. In the assassination of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, some of thesetechniques were used that help in the success of the espionagemission.

Whenthe agents that assassinated Mahmoud tried to break into his room,the type of covert activity being used here was the black bagoperation. In this type of tradecraft, agents’ gets into thepremises of their targets forcefully so as to obtain information thatthey can use to bring down their targets. Some of the activitiesassociated with this type of covert activity may include electronicsurveillance, lock picking or just breaking. All of these activitieswere performed by the assassination squad that assassinated Mahmoud.

Individualsthat assassinated Mahmoud entered Dubai as single identities to helpprotect their covers as agents. Their random and independent entryinto the country made it hard for the task force assigned ininvestigating the assassination to produce an accurate reportindicating that they were from a given organization or were agents ofa particular country. The moment the agents tried to conceal theagency they were working for, they used the tradecraft frequentlytermed as a false flag operation. False flag operations give theagency involved to deny any obligations just in case their agents’are captured. It is mostly because of public relations that agovernment agency may decide to use such a technique.

Itis believed that there were surveillance teams at both the airportand at least two hotels that were placed to monitor the movement ofMahmoud. The people place at the airport were to observe the arrivalof their Target and alert the other members of the hotel thatAl-Mabhouh checked and also update the rest of the team anyunexpected activities that may arise. Also, after the assassinationof Mahmoud, the police used the footage in the CCTV to try andidentify the people that were involved in the process. When such atechnique is used in espionage, then the term that is used todescribe it is surveillance.

Apartfrom the mentioned covert activity, there are other techniques thatwere used though they were not documented in the reports as nobodywas sure whether they were applied.

Resultsof activities

Somehigh ranked organization condemned the assassination of Mahmoud. Forexample, the United Nations through its reporter who deals withextrajudicial killings Philip Alston distance its self from such anact by saying that the killing of the highly ranked commander amongHamas should be categorized as an extrajudicial killing if at all theintelligence body that conducted the act was not locally based.

Someintelligence agencies started pointing fingers at the Israeli agency“the Mossad.” Both the Mossad and the Israeli government cameunder immense pressure of being the main suspect in Mahmoudassassination (Richard, 2013).


TheUnited Kingdom government did not want to associate itself with suchan act and expelled an Israeli diplomat who was highly ranked in theembassy. Expulsion of the senior Israeli diplomat was a politicalmove by the United Kingdom to pass a message that their governmentcannot work with a diplomat whose motives were in question.

TheFrench government summoned the Israeli chargé d`affaires in Parisand issued a statement claiming that they were not happy to hear thatsome of their passports were used in the assassination. TheAustralian government claimed that have allocated sub sequentialamount of resources and workforce into trying to understand how theagents involved in the espionage were able to use their mobilephones. Germany also tabled a detailed report about theirinvestigation on the Germany passport that was used I theassassination. The Germanys even went a step further by discussing intheir parliament about the involvement of their traveling documentsin the assassination and accused the Mossad directly of being theintelligence body that conducted the operation (Barnes, 2013).

Israeligovernment publicly denied any involvement in the assassination ofMahmoud and challenged other government to have concrete evidencebefore accusing them. Also, the Israeli condemned the actions of theUnited Kingdom that involved the expulsion of an Israeli diplomatfrom the United Kingdom.

Fallout:Prosecution, policy changes

Inmid-2010, the Germans prosecutors publicly claimed that they hadarrested a suspect in Mahmoud assassination that was specificallyinvolved with the forgery of the German documents that was used onthe day of the assassination (Corke, &amp Corbin, 2010). They evenwent ahead and informed the public on the exact place where they hadcaptured the suspect. The nations whose passports were involved inthe execution of the Hamas commander told their citizens that theyhad installed policies that will only allow them to surrender theirpassports to Israeli officials only and only if there is the need todo so.


Barnes,D. (2013).&nbspNodeSecurity.Packt Publishing.

Goodman,M. E. (2016). Civil War spies.

Russell,J. (2013).&nbspAssassinationof mahmoud al-mabhouh.Place of publication not identified: Book On Demand Ltd.

Richard,L. (2013).&nbspMossad:Killers of the state.Place of publication not identified: Java Films.