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Mahmoud Abdel Rauf al-Mabhouh
February 14, 1960(1960-02-14) – January 19, 2010 (aged 49)
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.jpg
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh
Place of birth Jabalia Camp, Gaza
Place of death Dubai, UAE
Resting place (Damascus, Syria)
Allegiance Hamas
Rank Senior commander

Mahmoud Abdel Rauf al-Mabhouh (Arabic: محمود عبد الرؤوف المبحوح; February 14, 1960[1] – January 19, 2010[2]) was a senior Hamas military commander and one of the founders of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. He was involved in several actions against Israel, including the abduction and murder of two Israeli soldiers.[3][4] In recent years, Mabhouh was also alleged to have played a key role in forging secret connections between the Hamas government in Gaza and the Al-Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards in Iran.[5]

Al-Mabhouh was killed in the five-star Al Bustan Rotana Hotel in Dubai on January 19, 2010, having arrived in the country earlier that day from Syria using one of his five passports, under the fake name of Abdul Raaouf Mohamed.[6][7] The Dubai police have voiced their suspicions that he was murdered in his hotel room, with accounts of the cause of death ranging from suffocation to electrocution. Controversy has arisen over speculation that his death may have been an Israeli government-sanctioned assassination, and allegations that the assassins used fraudulently obtained European[8] and Australian [9] passports. Mabhouh was at the time of his death wanted by the Israeli, Egyptian and Jordanian governments.[10]




Al-Mabhouh was born in Jabalia Camp, Gaza, on February 14, 1960.[11] As a young man, he pursued weightlifting. He quit secondary school, trained as a car mechanic and later became a garage owner.[12] Al-Mabhouh had 13 siblings, and was a married father of four.[12]

In the 1970's, he joined the Muslim Brotherhood, and in the 1980's, he was reported to have been involved in sabotaging coffee shops where gambling was taking place. In 1986, the Israeli security forces arrested him for possession of an assault rifle. It has been reported that after his release, he became involved with Hamas.

According to his aide, Al-Mabhouh was involved in the 1989 abduction and murder of two Israeli soldiers, Avi Sasportas and Ilan Sa'adon, whose murders he celebrated by standing on one of the corpses.[13][14] In a video taped two weeks before his death, and broadcast on Al-Jazeera in early February, Mabhouh admitted his involvement, saying he had disguised himself as an Orthodox Jew.[15][16] In May 1989, a failed attempt was made to arrest him for his involvement in the murder of the two Israeli soldiers and he subsequently left the Gaza Strip; his home in Gaza was demolished by Israel in 1989 as retribution for the attack.[17]

According to a report in The Palestine Chronicle, al-Mabhouh had survived two assassination attempts; the first was a car bombing; the second took place in Beirut in 2009 and involved the use of poison which rendered him unconscious for 30 hours.[18]

Al-Mabhouh was believed by Israel to have been involved in smuggling weapons and explosives into Gaza.[1] He spent most of 2003 in an Egyptian jail.[10] He had been arrested and released several times by Israel. At the time of his death, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was wanted by the Israeli, Egyptian and Jordanian governments,[10] and living in Syria.[19]

In recent years, Mabhouh is alleged to have played a key role in forging secret connections between the Hamas government in Gaza and the Al-Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards in Iran.[5]


An Al Bustan Rotana Hotel room in Dubai.

On January 19, 2010, al-Mabhouh was killed in his room in a hotel in Dubai, after being followed by at least 11 individuals carrying fake or fraudulently obtained passports from various European nations, seven of which assumed the names of Israeli dual citizens. Reports indicate that al-Mabhouh was tracked by his killers from Damascus to Dubai.[20] He was travelling without bodyguards, and was en route to Bangkok.[21][22]Although it has been reported that he carried five passports under different names, Hamas officials in Syria reportedly stated that at this time he was using one issued in his own name.[23]

He checked into the Al Bustan Rotana hotel on the afternoon of January 19.[10][24] He left the hotel about an hour after check-in, and there are conflicting reports as to what he did during the few hours before he was killed.[22][25] At approximately 8:25 p.m. Al-Mabhouh went back to his room.[24] He failed to answer a call from his wife a half hour later.[10]

According to Dubai police, he was dead by 9 p.m. that evening.[2] On January 20, the following day, his body was found in his hotel room.[20][26] Al-Mabhouh's remains were transported to Damascus for burial.

Hotel surveillance footage released to the public shows the suspects, who had arrived on separate flights, meeting in the hotel. While the suspects used personal communication devices among themselves to avoid surveillance, a number of telephone calls were made to a number in Austria. When al-Mabhouh arrived around 3pm, two of the suspects followed him to his room. They then checked into the room opposite al-Mabhouh's. At 8pm al-Mabhouh left the hotel and while several of the suspects kept watch, two tried to gain entry to his room, but were disturbed when a tourist exited the nearby elevator. While another suspect distracted the tourist, four suspects allegedly entered the victim’s hotel room using an electronic device, and waited for him to return. Hotel computer logs indicate that an attempt was made to reprogram al-Mabhouh’s electronic door lock at this time.


Cause of death

Initially, Dubai authorities believed al-Mabhouh had died of natural causes.[27] Results from a preliminary forensic report by the Dubai police found that al-Mabhouh was first paralyzed by an injection of succinylcholine (suxamethonium), a fast-acting muscle relaxant. He was then suffocated with a pillow[28], though their investigation and final report on the matter would not be ready until the beginning of March.[2] Signs indicated that al-Mabhouh attempted to resist as he was being suffocated. The hyper-relaxation mode induced by this drug applies only to muscles - the victim remains conscious.[29] Dubai authorities stated they were ruling the death a homicide and were working with the International Criminal Police Organization to investigate the incident.[30]


Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Lt. Gen. and Dubai's police chief, announced on February 18 that, "Our investigations reveal that Mossad is involved in the murder of al-Mabhouh ... It is 99% if not 100% that Mossad is standing behind the murder."[31] Dubai police said the killers spent little time in the emirate, arriving less than a day before the murder, killing al-Mabhouh between his arrival at 3:15 p.m. and 9 p.m. that night, and leaving the country before the discovery of the murder.[2]

The Israeli government initially did not comment on claims that it was involved in Mabhouh's death.[32] On February 17, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman refused to confirm or deny any Israeli involvement, citing Israel's "policy of ambiguity" on such matters, and claimed a lack of solid evidence for Israeli involvement.[33] Later the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, said "there is nothing linking Israel to the assassination."[34] However, Israeli media and public opinion have generally accepted Mossad's responsibility for the operation.[35]

The identities used by eleven of the suspects have been publicly identified, based on passports that the Dubai police said were not forgeries,[36][37] though both the British and Irish governments said the passports bearing their countries' names were "either fraudulently obtained or [are] outright fakes."[38] The total number of suspects stands at eighteen, all of whom entered the country using fake or fraudulently obtained passports.[39] Passports used by the assassins were from the United Kingdom (6),[40] Republic of Ireland (5)[41], Australia (3) [42], France (1 - suspected of being the hit squad leader and logistical coordinator),[43][44] and Germany (1).[44]

The names used on the six UK passports and the German passport belong to individuals who live in Israel and hold dual citizenships.[45]

The photographs of 11 of the suspected assassins were added to Interpol's most wanted list on February 18, with a note specifying that they had been published since the identities adopted by the suspects were faked. Dubai airport officials carried out routine retinal scans on 11 of the suspects sought in the assassination when they entered the country and Dubai police said they would publish the scans through INTERPOL.[46] Viewable here: [1]

Two Palestinians, Ahmad Hasnin, an intelligence operative of the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA), and Anwar Shekhaiber, an employee of the PA in Ramallah, were arrested in Jordan and handed over to Dubai, suspected of giving logistical assistance.[47] Hamas said the two were former Fatah security officials that both worked at a construction company in Dubai owned by Mohammed Dahlan, another senior Fatah security official, and that they rented cars and hotel rooms for members of the Mossad hit team alleged to have carried out the killing. Dahlan and Fatah denied the charges.[48] Recruitment of Ahmad Hasnin by the Mossad may have occurred while he was imprisoned by Israel for a month in June 2007 for his involvement with Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Fatah's paramilitary wing. He came to the UAE in 2008, according to a family source.[49]

On February 19 Dubai police chief Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan called for Interpol to issue a "red notice" to approve the arrest of Israeli Mossad chief Meir Dagan, causing the Israeli government to deny he has enough proof.[50]

Western government reactions

In the wake of the revelation that passports of British citizens had figured prominently in the operation, the United Kingdom's Serious Organised Crime Agency launched its own investigation into the matter.[51] The British Foreign Office also summoned the Israeli ambassador on February 18 to share information on the matter.[52][53] The Daily Mail cited a previously reliable "British security source" as stating that Mossad had tipped off the UK that their passports would be used for an operation,[54] but this was denied by the UK government.[55]

Britain's Foreign Office believes that the passports used were fraudulent;[56] one report indicated that they had issued the passports in January, the only difference between the actual identities being the photographs.[57]

Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs declared that the passports used by the suspects were counterfeit[58] and stated that it was "unable to identify any of those three individuals as being genuine Irish". According to the department of foreign affairs, Ireland has never issued passports in those names.[59]

According to a spokesman of the French Foreign Affairs ministry, the French passport was counterfeit.[60] The Israeli chargé d'affaires in Paris was summoned on February 18 and the French Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing, "deep concern about the malicious and fraudulent use of these French administrative documents."[61]

German officials said that the passport number which they received from the authorities in Dubai is either incomplete or does not exist.[56]

After learning of the alleged use of Australian passports by Mossad, the Australian Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, publicly summoned the Israeli ambassador to Australia, Yuval Rotem. Mr Smith told the ambassador that if Israel was responsible for the passport forgeries that "Australia would not regard that as the act of a friend". Soon after this occurred, Australia, who is usually a strong supporter of Israel at the United Nations, abstained on a UN motion to investigate Israeli war crimes committed during the Gaza War, a motion that Australia had previously opposed. In the Australian press there was widespread speculation that the move was retaliation for the passport affair. [62]

Australian and British investigators came to Israel to investigate the case.


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  3. ^ Robert Baer (February 27, 2010). "A Perfectly Framed Assassination". Wall Street Journal. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Yossi Melman and Dan Raviv (February 23, 2010). "From Dubai with Love". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  6. ^ Stephen King - Irish Examiner, 7 March 2010
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  13. ^
  14. ^ After al-Mabhouh's death, Sa'adon's mother was quoted as saying, "I am happy that [his death] has been avenged, but sad that 20 years passed before this happened." ("' Israel killed Hamas member in Dubai'". The Jerusalem Post. 2010-01-29. Retrieved 2010-01-31. )
  15. ^ Yaakov Lappin (February 17, 2010). "Mildiner: I woke up a 'murderer'". Retrieved 2010-02-22. 
  16. ^ "Slain Hamas militant admitted role in killings". AFP. February 7, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Brother of killed Hamas man says electrocuted to death". Ynetnews. January 29, 2010.,7340,L-3841395,00.html. 
  18. ^ Tammy Obeidallah (February 11, 2010). "Israel Gets Away with Murder .. Again". Palestine Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-02-20. 
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  28. ^
  29. ^
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  32. ^ "Iran: Assassination was Zionist terror". Reuters. Ynetnews. 2010-02-02.,7340,L-3843019,00.html. Retrieved 2010-02-02. 
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  34. ^
  35. ^ John, Lyons (2010-02-27). "Locals accept Dubai assassination was Mossad operation". The Australia. 
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  37. ^ For pictures and passport information, see Details of the prime suspects from Gulf News
  38. ^ "Instant briefing: 'Dubai Hit Squad'". The Week. February 18, 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-20. 
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  43. ^ From correspondents in Dubai (2001-09-11). "'Hit squad' named in Dubai hotel murder of Hamas figure Mahmud al-Mabhuh". Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
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  47. ^ "Interpol adds suspected Dubai assassins to most wanted list". Haaretz. 2010-02-18. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
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  49. ^ "Al Mabhouh suspects’ credit cards were in fake names". The National. February 19, 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  50. ^ BBC News, 02/19/10
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  53. ^ Borger, Julian (2010-02-17). "Britain summons Israeli ambassador over Dubai murder". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  54. ^ "Did Britain know about Mossad hit? Israeli agent claims MI6 was tipped off". Daily Mail. 2010-02-19. Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  55. ^ Black, Ian (2010-02-19). "Britain denies advance knowledge of Dubai killing". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  56. ^ a b By BRIAN MURPHY and BARBARA SURK (AP) – 2 days ago. "The Associated Press: Dubai seeks global dragnet for Hamas slaying". Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  57. ^ "Dubai assassins stole identities of six UK citizens". The Guardian. 2010-02-17. Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  58. ^ "Ireland says passports used in Dubai fake - Israel News, Ynetnews". 1995-06-20.,7340,L-3850012,00.html. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  59. ^ "Ireland confirms 'Irish' Dubai killers don't exist - Haaretz - Israel News". Haaretz. 2006-12-24. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  60. ^ 2 – ASSASSINAT D'UN CADRE DU HAMAS A DUBAI, Point de Presse, February 18, 2010
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  62. ^ "Australia abandons Israel in UN vote". Sydney Morning Herald. 2010-03-01. 

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