19 February 2010

Death in Dubai: The shadow of Suez

Robert Fisk, a man who knows a thing or two about the Middle East, had rather a lot to say yesterday about the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh:

Collusion. That's what it's all about. The United Arab Emirates suspect – only suspect, mark you – that Europe's "security collaboration" with Israel has crossed a line into illegality, where British passports (and those of other other EU nations) can now be used to send Israeli agents into the Gulf to kill Israel's enemies.

This morning, the Daily Mail is reporting that MI6 and the Government were both tipped off that there was going to be an ‘overseas operation’ by Mossad:

A member of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, said the Foreign Office was also told hours before a Hamas terrorist chief was assassinated in Dubai.

The tip-off did not say who the target would be or even where the hit squad would be in action. But the claim from a credible source that the Government had some prior knowledge of the abuse of UK passports will strengthen calls for ministers to come clean about what they knew and when.


A British security source who met the Mossad agent, and has a track record of providing reliable information, told the Daily Mail:

“This is a serving member of Israeli intelligence. He says the British Government was told very, very briefly before the operation what was going to happen.

“There was no British involvement and they didn't know the name of the target. But they were told these people were travelling on UK passports”

This last point, if true, is very significant indeed.

Back to Fisk:

Collusion is a word the Arabs understand. It speaks of the 1956 Suez War, when Britain and France cooperated with Israel to invade Egypt. Both London and Paris denied the plot. They were lying. But for an Arab Gulf country which suspects its former masters (the UK, by name) may have connived in the murder of a visiting Hamas official, this is apparently now too much.

He concludes:

There is much more to come out of this story.

Even if there has been no ministerial complicity, this murder could prove a real headache for Gordon Brown and David Miliband, at a time when they wish to concentrate on domestic matters.

Collusion may be a rather strong word to use at this stage, but Fisk’s article and the Mail's report do need to addressed directly by the Government.

As Fisk says, we have been here before.

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