You bungle, I cry foul.

September 25, 2010

On this day in 1997:
Two Mossad agents bungled an assassination in Amman, Jordan. The target was Khaled Mashal, a member of the Hamas leadership. (He was, in 1997, the “Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau”).
As is not uncommon, they were carrying non-Israeli passports. (Stealthy spy stuff aside, an Israeli passport will not get you far traveling around the Middle East).
In this case, this time, the passports were Canadian.

Its not really very surprising that Mossad was able to get their hands on foreign passports.
It is quite possible that these were forged from scratch.  They may have been fabricated by altering passports belonging to Canadian-Israeli citizens. Dual citizens, living in Israel, have complained of being asked (pressured) by authorities to lend their foreign passports for use by such hit-squads. In other cases, dual citizens have protested that their identities were stolen by Mossad.
A little further, it is not impossible that foreign states have helped Mossad create their fake identities. Of course, they make a show of protesting when the media reports note that a hit-squad was carrying their passports.   It seems like a pretty simple favour to do for a state considered a friend… and besides, the governments involved are hardly sympathetic towards Hamas.
In the 1997 case, very little — a show of finger-wagging, and the temporary recall of the ambassador — was done in response. This unfortunately is the norm… the Israeli government continues to sign off on Mossad’s use of foreign passports.
The problem?
(a) The practice troubles (border hassles to personal safety) those who travel in the Middle East on (real) Canadian passports.
(b) If  we confine ourselves to bit of protest over the use of forged passports, we are missing a golden opportunity to condemn a state’s use of  murder to eliminate their opponents.
(c) We must accept that — partly our own fault — the practices will continue… both the forging of (more) reputable passports the use of murder. Indeed, continue it does. Most recently, a Mossad hit-squad killed  Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. (A Hamas figure, reportedly a target because of his role in the killing of two Israeli soldiers twenty years ago). The hit-squad was traveling using forged British, German and French passports.

I want to tell myself that it slips by because we are distracted,
but maybe we don’t see a problem with murder?


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