The turning of the worm 2

In a DebkaFile report on the unlikely yet apparently thriving Saudi-Israeli co-operation in the face of the Iranian threat, a clue may be found as to just who is directing operations againt Iran’s nuclear program, and most probably sent it the Stuxnet worm:

Riyadh has signaled its intention for the secret Saudi-Israeli meetings on Iran taking place for more than a year to continue after the changing of the guard at the Mossad… This was one of the first messages Tamir Pardo found on his desk as head of Israel’s external spy agency when he took over from Meir Dagan this week. The Saudis were clearly not put off by any possible awkwardness from the WikiLeaks disclosure that they had been pressing the US to attack Iran’s nuclear sites before it developed a weapon.

The meetings between Saudi General Intelligence Director Prince Muqrin bin Abdaziz and Meir Dagan, most of which were held in the Jordanian capital Amman, dealt extensively with clandestine cooperation between the two agencies and plans for attacking Iran. Arab and Western sources reported that they reached agreement in the course of the year for Israeli fighter-bombers to transit Saudi air space on their way to bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities. The Saudis were even willing to build a new landing strip in the desert with refueling facilities for the use of the warplanes en route to their mission.

Western intelligence experts on Saudi Arabia found special significance in the publication by the Saudi Arab News site of Monday, Nov. 29 of a long report on Meir Dagan and his retirement after eight years as head of Israel’s external espionage agency. The Saudi official media never, ever report on Israeli military or intelligence affairs. …

Still more out of character was the tone of the Arab News report [which admiringly describes] the outgoing Mossad chief … as … “widely seen as responsible for a wave of covert actions including the sabotage of Iranian nuclear projects.”

Western sources found a connection between this comment and the attack 24 hours earlier in the heart of Tehran on two senior Iranian nuclear scientists, killing Prof. Majid Shahriari on the spot and leaving Prof. Feredoun Abbassi-Davani critically injured. …

Pardo’s job is termed “at the heart of Israel’s secret war against Iran.”…

The WikiLeaks disclosure, which also showed the Obama administration rejecting the Gulf Arab rulers’ demand for military action against Iran, may even have spurred the Saudis to insist on carrying on with their backdoor meetings with Israel so as to underline their abiding conviction that Iran’s nuclear program must be wiped out.

And we understand that Meir Dagan did not bow to King Abdullah. In a manner of speaking, the obeisance is being paid the other way about.

The mystery deepens 1

Roger L. Simon, who has written detective fiction, raises some puzzling points about the murder mystery in Dubai (see our post below Murder mystery in Dubai, February 19, 2010). He assumes that Israel is behind whatever happened.

The first notable clue is those “eleven” agents. Why send eleven for an assassination when two or three would do? Why not just knock the Hamas man off with a bombing or cell phone some place? It would be far less risky. And the Israelis clearly had remarkably precise advanced knowledge of al-Mabhouh’s itinerary. The Hamas leader had only left Damascus that morning, supposedly, according to some reports, en route to China via Dubai. And yet the Mossad had a minimum of eleven people in place, waiting for him. No wonder Hamas was so shocked that, when they learned of his “murder” on January 19, they immediately announced terminal cancer had over taken their leader. Hamas itself must have had something closer to a heart attack. To have this much warning of al-Mabhouh’s itinerary, the Israelis must have permeated them pretty thoroughly. The embarrassment alone, not to mention the internal finger-pointing and suspicion, must have been extreme. (From the Gulf News of Feb 19: An additional suspect arrested in Syria is believed to be a senior Hamas fighter.)

Meanwhile, there are false-flags on false-flags. The once revered Mossad chief Meir Dagan is under attack in Israel. How could he have been so sloppy as to allow his agents to be videoed by hotel security cameras or to have used the passports of “normal” Israelis as cover? But perhaps all that was deliberate and the agents videoed were disguised and the “normal” Israelis part of the plot themselves. Then what? Not even John le Carré in his prime could have designed a plot so intricate. Dagan is George Smiley in the flesh.

Nevertheless, the Israelis still must have had some motive for employing so many agents for a hit. After checking into a blacked out room at the Al Bustan Rotana hotel that day, al-Mabhouh went missing for four hours – and this may provide some clues. A meeting with an Iranian official has been reported and denied, also some Palestinian group. In any case, he was doing something and there was information to be gleaned from this man, most probably key information regarding Hamas and its allies (Iran, Syria, etc.) that certainly accounts in part for the elaborate assassination. In a world rapidly becoming nuclear one can only speculate what that information is, but we can be sure it’s not particularly appetizing. It’s also worth considering what al -Mabhouh wanted to obtain from the Chinese. The Mossad was out for al-Mabhouh’s knowledge even more than the revenge that is commonly reported. (al-Mabhouh was responsible for the killing of two Israeli soldiers, but that was years ago and the Hamas leader has been in Israeli custody since and released.)

The information grabbing intent also accounts for the multiple agents with varied expertise – from photography to “exotic” drugs. It may also account for the differing initial reports of the cause of death, which range from electrocution to suffocation. The time of death, always difficult to ascertain, is also in question. How long were the agents with al-Mabhouh and did they get what they wanted? Was his death untimely or – and here’s a wild speculation – is he dead at all? Do we have DNA of the body? Nothing so far from the Dubai police. All we know is this, again from Gulf News:

“Dubai police has [sic] denied that it had intended to bury the body of Mahmoud Al Mabhouh, a Hamas leader in Dubai. The police also added in a press release that they held the body of the deceased for one week to finish the investigation procedures, and then handed it over to Al Mabhouh’s son who came to the UAE after the death of his father.”

Habeas corpus anyone?

As of Feb 19, no photos of al-Mahbouh’s corpse in any form turn up on Google images. Perhaps there are videos, but none that identify the body in anything near a definitive way. Yes, I know this is strange, but it is remotely possible that al-Mahbouh was kidnapped. Dubai is, after all, a port, providing a means for escape. The Dubai police are promising that we will know all soon, but they have been promising that for a while now.