A team made up of up to 17 members traveling from four different European countries came to Dubai in order assassinate one man, Palestinian Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. The team used high-tech communication tools and modern procedures in order to accomplish this, however despite all of this Dubai was able, and in just 24 hours, to uncover the tiniest details of their movements since their arrival in Dubai to their departure. This is a remarkable achievement which is in the interests of the security of Dubai, and a good indicator of how modern cities can significantly contribute to their own security with regards to detecting criminals, documenting crime, and providing evidence. This is what compelled me to write my previous article in which I said that no crime goes unpunished in Dubai. The video recording that the Dubai police released on Monday shows that the criminals, despite their professionalism, never imagined they were committing a crime in a city that had all of these capabilities, especially with regards to the surveillance cameras which are omnipresent. None of these criminals imagined that just days after committing this crime their pictures would appear on "Wanted" posters.
Nobody can blame Dubai for failing to prevent this crime. This man knew that he was wanted and was being pursued wherever he went, so how could he go – or indeed how could his organization allow him to go – to Dubai under an alias, and without giving prior notice to the Dubai government who could have ensured suitable protection for him?
Therefore the Dubai Police Chief General Dahi Khalfan Tamim has every right to say "Anybody who works behind our back must watch his back." Anybody who watched the video released by the Dubai police cannot help but have noticed how the victim was moving around without protection, and perhaps without caution and vigilance, and this is what caused him to fall into the trap laid by those who came to Dubai from four different countries to assassinate him.
The team consisted of up to 17 criminals who could not have arrived in Dubai prior to al-Mabhouh unless he was betrayed by one of his own people. Who told the assassins when al-Mabhouh would be arriving in Dubai so that they could wait for him from the moment of his arrival?
There has been an exchange of accusations between Hamas and Fatah with regards to the affiliation of the two Palestinians arrested on suspicion of being involved in this case. We are not concerned here with whether these two Palestinians belong to Fatah or Hamas, and if it is proved that they were involved in the killing this is something that does not change the nature of the tragedy, for there is nothing more painful than treachery.
Here the question is; would the international community, or to be more accurate, Interpol have handled the investigation into these criminals in a more professional manner than Dubai, who revealed the names, photographs, nationalities, and movements of those involved? Will we soon see them facing trial or do they have a safe haven protecting them from justice?
*Published in the London-based ASHARQ ALAWSAT on Feb. 19, 2010.