As the liaison between Hamas and Iran for weapons-smuggling operations into Gaza, Mr. Mabhouh had a lot of enemies: He was wanted in Israel for the 1989 kidnapping and killing of two soldiers; he was loathed by members of Hamas’s rival Palestinian faction, Fatah; and Jordanian intelligence was looking for him. Egypt, where he spent all of 2003 in jail, also wanted him. The man had survived several assassination attempts.
But while many might have wished him dead, Dubai police say the evidence points to Israel as being behind his murder.
As details of this killing have been carefully assembled by the Dubai police force, the case has triggered global curiosity and incredulity. It has pulled the curtain back on what is widely assumed to be Israeli spycraft, leaving the heralded Mossad spies looking more like Maxwell Smart than sophisticated players in a John le Carré novel. Does it really take 27 agents in cheap wigs and fake beards to kill one Hamas smuggler?
The episode has also re-ignited debate over the morality of targeted assassinations. And it has revealed Dubai as a kind of modern Casablanca, a Middle Eastern crossroads of arms dealers, espionage, oil money, and a much underestimated Dubai police force.