Charlie Kimber looks at the issues surrounding the use of British passports in the assassination of a Hamas leader.
Ask yourself a question when considering the news that an Israeli hit squad used British passports during the assassination of a Hamas leader: What would the reaction of the British government have been if Iranian agents had used such documents in order to eliminate an opposition leader living abroad?
Not only would there have been a fierce storm of protest, it might have led to a missile strike.
But in this case Ron Prosor, the Israeli ambassador to London, only had to endure a request to “share information” about the incident. He was then allowed to get away with saying that he could make no comment.
This isn’t the first time Mossad, the Israeli secret service, has used forged documents.
In 1973 Mossad agent Sylvia Rafael was arrested after an assassination attempt in Norway ended with the killing of a Moroccan waiter. She was travelling using the forged identity of a Canadian photographer.
Her fellow assassins had forged or borrowed identities of British and French citizens.
In 1987, an Israel Military Industries courier left British passports in a public telephone booth in Germany that were meant for use by Mossad agents. The British government said it received assurances that steps had been taken to prevent future occurrences.
In 1997, a Mossad assassination squad used altered Canadian passports in a failed attempt to kill Khaled Meshal, now the leader of Hamas. Two agents were arrested in Jordan after trying to spray poison into his ear.
The Israeli government, then as now headed by Binyamin Netanyahu, was forced to hand over an antidote that saved Khaled Mashal’s life. It also released Hamas’s spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
In 2005, two Israeli agents were jailed for six months in New Zealand for obtaining the country’s passports illegally.
There remain unanswered questions over the most recent incident.
How fake were the “fake passports”? There is real suspicion that far from being duped, the British government and others colluded with Israel.
After all, they work with the Israelis over vile crimes like the invasion of Gaza, so why not over the relatively small matter of assassination?
One of journalist Robert Fisk’s sources in Dubai said of the passports, “They are hologram pictures with the biometric stamp. They are not forged or fake. The names were really there.
“If you can fake a hologram or biometric stamp, what does this mean?”
It has also emerged that five of the suspects had credit cards issued in the US.
The Daily Mail last week wrote that a Mossad agent had told it, “The British government was told very, very briefly before the [assassination] 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.”
And behind all of this is the question of assassinations itself. What right did Israel have to murder Mahmoud al-Mabhouh?
The truth is that the US and its allies in the “war on terror” have taken upon themselves the right to murder people across the world as they see fit.
The 44 strikes carried out by US drones in the tribal areas of Pakistan last year, killed five “Taliban leaders”—without any trial. But they also saw the slaughter of over 700 civilians.
There is a long history of assassinations by the US CIA—including conspiracy to murder Congo’s Patrice Lumumba and repeated efforts to kill Cuba’s Fidel Castro. It has organised a trail of murder through Central and South America, the Middle East and Indochina.
In 2001 George Bush went even further and issued a secret order setting up special hit teams.
Behind the passport scandal is imperialism’s bloody cooperation with Israel against the Palestinians. No wonder the British government is trying to close down questioning.