Hamas Leader Al-Mabhouh Assassinated Posters for Al Mabhouh in the northern Gaza Strip. Photo: EPA

January 19, 2010

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas military commander and founder of its Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, is drugged and suffocated in his hotel room hours after his arrival Dubai. A Dubai police report attributes his death to a “professional criminal gang” that flees before the body is discovered the next day.

Dubai investigators blame the Mossad for the assassination, identifying more than two dozen people traveling on forged British, Irish, Australian, French and German passports as being involved in the killing. At least six of those passports are in the names of Israelis who hold dual citizenship.

Under its “policy of ambiguity,” Israel never comments on the case but is widely blamed for al-Mabhouh’s death. For example, the Australian foreign minister, Stephen Smith, issues a report finding “no doubt that Israel was responsible for the abuse and counterfeiting of Australian passports.” Australia halts coordination with Israeli intelligence and expels an Israeli diplomat, Eli Elkoubi.

While Al-Mabhouh had many enemies, including rival Palestinian faction Fatah, and was wanted by Jordanian intelligence, he was considered to be a particular target of the Israeli government and was imprisoned by Israel several times. He was behind hundreds of deadly attacks on Israel over a quarter-century, such as the abduction and slaying of two Israeli soldiers in 1989. He also played a leading role in acquiring weapons for Hamas from Iran.