Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons
Dubai's police chief, Lt.-Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim, has been indefatigably reporting his new discoveries in the Mahmoud al-Mabhouh case to international media, turning him into the darling of Arab and European media. He now claims to have evidence of the involvement of nearly 30 agents in the killing of the Hamas operative. What's more, Tamim has announced new plans to train UAE security officials in recognizing Israelis trying to enter the country with foreign passports by their appearance and manner of speaking. This should be a lot of fun. Meanwhile, Britain and Australia have dispatched investigators to Israel to question those dual nationals whose identities were allegedly used by the suspects. Of course, everything is based on the release of their photos by Tamim, who probably could have saved these people a great deal of grief by being more circumspect. But both he and the Dubai police seem to be enjoying the attention, judging by the agency's web site.
Photo Source: Dubai Police
It's hard to take seriously the outrage of the British about the use of their passports. Do MI-6 agents on sensitive missions routinely travel with the Queen's documents? Prime Minister Brown is certainly aware of the hypocrisy of his position. But once Tamim publicized the origins of the passports used by the alleged assassins, those governments could not but react.
For all of Tamim's crowing about a "99% certainty" that the Mossad assassinated al-Mabhou, no evidence has yet come to light that conclusively links Israel to the killing. Interestingly enough, the U.S. has refused to comment at all on the matter. It is hard to believe that if this was indeed a Mossad operation that American intelligence officials were not apprised of it beforehand or actually involved in it.
There are many commentators who have judged the operation a failure, due to the negative publicity. But condemnations of Israel in the international media come and go - one cannot base policy on them. The more relevant yardstick for an intelligence agency and a country's leaders is whether the investment in resources can be justified by the return. If Israel was behind the operation, one would hope that the disruption to Hamas's weapons smuggling networks will actually prove significant enough to affects the organization's usual functioning. Perhaps the killing will sow more fear among Hamas cadres about internal leaks. But Tamim may ultimately be replaced by someone equally or even more capable than him.