A Quick Review!
The Mossad’s Mission
Covertly and clandestinely locate and kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh – a known Hamas Commander and Arms Dealer – and make it look like a heart attack. Was this the first attempt on his life? No, the Mossad attempted to kill him on 3 other occasions.
Snapshot of the Assassination
A team of males and females arrived in Dubai, in alias, some arrived as couples, but most arrived as individuals. They set up surveillance at the airport and waited for the target to arrive. He was identified without pause by the team, then a “discreet/not to lose” surveillance was conducted to his hotel.
Once at the hotel, the team determined his room with more intrusive surveillance techniques without compromise. Once the target was in his room, another team arrived and assassinated him. All of this was done in the very busy Dubai urban environment, undetected, and in less than 24 hours. And when I say less than 24 hours – all members of the team were out of the country and headed home in less than 24 hours. The operations was very successful and impressive regardless of the media attention it attracted.
The Difference Between Covert and Clandestine
- Covert definition: To conceal the sponsor or source. That simple. A covert act done properly will never be tied to an agency or government.
- Clandestine definition: To conceal the action. A clandestine act done properly will never be identified, detected, or compromised by the target or third parties.
Previously, I left you with several concluding questions that led to great comments and posts. I would like to add to the conversations and leave you with more to ponder about. The questions were simple:
Was it Covert?
This is debatable, the diagram above would have most say, NO WAY – THE ASSASSINATION WAS NOT COVERT! But I ask you this – did the team give up what country they worked for? Did the team give up what agency they worked for? Did they leave a stealth helicopter in the hotel swimming pool?
Covert is very hard to pull off these days – lets face it – there are only a few countries that waste time and money building and implementing expensive illusions. These are the same countries that have been fighting terror overtly for decades. Regardless of the true name vs. alias name debate and the identities that were revealed from this “glitch” in their cover plan (diagram above) – if the public says you did it - then you did it.
Which leads me to the wonderful world of deception and misinformation. The question secret agencies ask these days is “how do we influence the media to report something other than the truth?” Basically, secret agencies are embracing the media and utilizing it to influence the public’s thought process, hmmmm…maybe the US pulled this operation off exactly as planned – and I mean exactly as planned and televised – making the world believe it was Mossad…Okay, okay – well maybe not this particular operation…
Was it Clandestine?
In retrospect, the operation wasn’t very clandestine – the mere fact that the Dubai Police Department (not exactly varsity level) was able to piece the assassination together via surveillance footage and interviews discounts the surveillance and kill teams’ tradecraft. There was discussion that technology won – that is correct – but could have been defeated with proper use of tradecraft – I emphasize PROPER. Tradecraft is a tool to protect actions – those actions could be meetings, passing of information, or in this case; kill someone.
Even without the cameras, the assassination may have been uncovered due to the struggle that occurred between the kill team and the target, the cross contamination of the team members seen together at other locations, and their entry in and out of the United Arab Emirates. It was a “clandestine act in time” -meaning what they did during the surveillance and the kill was not caught or observed leading to compromise (no one was handcuffed, the struggle wasn’t heard, no one reported a suspicious group of people following a bad guy) – a successful operational act.
BUT – it was discovered later via investigation and video – making the longevity of the act depreciate from clandestine to murder – and ultimately compromising the surveillance/kill team.
In conclusion, the operation was successful regardless of its very short clandestine/covert shelf life. There are thousands of salient point to draw from its blunders, but at the end of the day – a bad guy is dead and that’s all that matters.