While Israel continues to remain silent, the international community has already decided the Mossad is responsible for the January 2009 assassination of a senior Hamas terrorist, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. The international community should be full of praise following the elimination of another arch terrorist, a person who busied himself with smuggling long-range rockets into Gaza and focused his life’s agenda on undermining democratic and Western values, maintaining close ties to Iran, but the European community prefers to use the opportunity to express outrage over the use of passports.
When he arrives in Brussels next week, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will come under fire and he will be expected to provide explanations to senior officials. Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin is one such individual, telling the press he plans to speak with Lieberman this week, demanding answers. He and his colleagues in the UK continue to capitalize on the media focus, speaking of his “deep concern” and the seriousness of the offense, demanding full accountability. British Foreign Minister David Miliband will not be outdone, telling the media he too plans to interrogate Lieberman during the EU foreign ministers forum in Brussels next week.
Joining the array of high-level officials probing the alleged Mossad assassination is Germany. According to a report in the Der Spiegel, German officials now report one of the passports used was not forged, but a legitimate passport.
This brings us to Bnei Brak, focusing on resident Rabbi Michael Bodenheimer, whose name was mentioned among the 11 assassins identified by Dubai Police Chief Dahi Khalfan. While he does appear on the Dubai wanted list, the chareidi rav does not fit the profile of a Mossad agent, yet alone assassin. According to the rav, he does not and has never held a German passport. Rav Bodenheimer is a rosh kollel in Modi’in Illit.
Speaking to members of the press on motzei shabbos, Rav Bodenheimer acknowledges that his parents indeed were from Germany, but he was born in the United States and he does have an American passport. “I never held a German passport and never requested a German passport. The entire affair does not worry me. There is a ‘Borei Olam’”.
The Der Spiegel report states that a legitimate passport issued by the Government of Germany was used by one of the assassins, Michael Bodenheimer, issued in 2009.
Der Spiegel however concludes that its investigation with officials in Cologne, there is no one with the name Michael Bodenheimer at the address appearing on the ‘legitimate’ passport.
The Times Online continues to provide colorful details of the alleged Mossad operation, stating that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in early January traveled to “The Midrasha” (Mossad HQ in N. Tel Aviv) to meet with the intelligence agency’s director Meir Dagan. At that time, the prime minister was briefed in detail regarding the planned assassination, meeting with some of the team members. One must understand that ultimately, if the Mossad was to embark on such an operation, the final clearance must come from the prime minister himself.
Not too long afterward, Mossad agents observed the takeoff of an Emirates flight from Syria on which the victim traveled, who by the way was also known by the nom de guerre of Abu al-Abd. Mossad officials had confirmation from their ‘man in the Damascus airport’ that the intended victim was onboard the flight, heading to Dubai on schedule. (A former resident of Gaza, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was deported by Israel about two decades ago, prompting him to establish his home in Damascus, a fine venue for a professional terrorist).
The Times report adds at present, “the Mossad is deeply embarrassed” over the international community learning of the use of the forged passports, angering Germany, the UK and Ireland. This is due to the fact that Dubai’s extensive CCTV cameras camera caught the actions of the hit team on video from the moment they landed.
Dubai Police Chief Dahi Khalfan now reports that some of the passports used by the hit team members were used in Dubai before. The report adds that preparations for the hit were ongoing for some time, months, and when Mabhouh arrived in Dubai, the agents were already on the ground, in position, having first flown to Paris, Frankfurt, Rome and Zurich. Khalfan adds his investigation has revealed that about three months ago, when Mabhouh traveled to China, he had a Mossad tail, agents using some of the very same forged passports. Two months ago, he was also followed on another visit to Dubai.
When he checked into the hotel on the final visit, in January, one of the Mossad agents was very close to him at the check-in desk, trying to hear what room he was being assigned. The other agents, the ones seen dressed in tennis clothes, followed him to verify the room information. The report adds that Mabhouh asked for a room without a balcony, presumably for security reasons.
The next stage if speculative since Dubai investigators are unwilling to release the footage depicting the exact events, but it is known that someone tampered with the electronic lock of the room at some point, so the theory is the agents entered the room while the victim was out, waiting inside in ambush for his return. The other theory is the evidence of the tampering of the lock reveals they did not succeed in entering during his absence and therefore, the woman seen on the cameras went into action, persuading him to permit her to enter the room after he returned.
It does appear that the assassination was intended to appear a natural death and the exact cause of death appears to remain a mystery, either strangulation or drug-induced. The assassins left promptly after their assignment was completed, not forgetting to place the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door, heading to different destinations including Paris, South America and Hong Kong.
The following day, when Mabhouh did not respond to his wife’s telephone calls to his cell phone she notified Hamas officials. When they entered the room, he appeared asleep and was unresponsive. A physician was summoned and he confirmed the death. The doctor found the hypertension medication in the room [reportedly planted by the Mossad] and he determined the cause of death was natural, a heart attack.
Government officials in Britain reject all reports that they had any prior knowledge or warning of the Mossad operation, as was reported last week.
Reports state that diplomatic relations between Israel and the UK are frozen as a result of the Mossad operation but in Jerusalem, officials last week played down the magnitude of the fallout of the alleged Mossad operation.
In a related note, as the Mossad and Israel are targeted in the alleged far-reaching assassination, Britain appears off the hook on making good on promises to amend its law to prevent the arrest of senior Israeli diplomatic and military officials for alleged war crimes relating to Operation Cast Lead, the 2008 counter-terrorism offensive against the Hamas terror regime in Gaza.
In closing, during an interview with Gulf News, Dubai Police Chief Dahi Khalfan stated quotes attributed to him in Friday’s Yediot Achronot are simply untrue, insisting he never spoke with anyone from Yediot.
In short, the world is blaming the Mossad, demanding explanations from Israel. Some analysts explain it may very well be that the ‘fingerprints’ left an intentional trail to Israel, seeking to place the heat on Jerusalem.
In reality, to date Dubai has released photographs but there is no forensic evidence to attest to allegations that the Mossad carried out the operation. In addition, the photos showing the alleged assassins don’t exhibit law-breaking, so for now, they are just photos of Israelis traveling in Dubai, not in itself a crime. One could have obtained the names of Israelis from airline flight records possibly.
Placing the blame on Israel suits the agendas of many nations, but at the end of this investigation, what is certain is the fact that the world is rid of one more master terrorist.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)