More than meets the eye - in Dubai
More than meets the eye - in Dubai
By Maurice Ostroff
The brouhaha over the death of senior Hamas operative Mahmoud Mabhouh would be hilarious were it not so tragic and serious. Whether or not Israel is in fact responsible, the media seem to be totally oblivious of their responsibility to report events free of bias and based on all, rather than carefully selected bits, of available evidence. The unreliability of media reports about this event is illustrated starkly by the many different speculative versions that have been presented as factual.
To the observant reader, it is obvious that a small part of the story has taken up disproportionately huge amounts of space in the media, perfectly fitting Pareto's 80- 20 principle. Only 20% of media attention comprises factual information and over 80% is speculative.
The only firm fact that has emerged is that Mahmoud Mabhouh is dead. It is not even certain that it was not a suicide, as one must ask how supposed murderers managed to leave the room with the door locked and securely latched with a chain from inside.
This intriguing, but overlooked information was supplied by the Media Office of the Dubai Government to Gulf News TV. I quote precisely, "On Wednesday the 2oth January 2010 at 1.30 pm, Al Bustan Hotel's administration opened the door to the victim's hotel room, which was locked from the inside with the latch and chain in place, (the emphasis is mine) after several repeated attempts to reach him on the telephone. Initial medical reports stated that the cause of death was due to an increase in blood pressure on the brain".
The door being locked from inside suggests the likelihood of suicide and this line of thought is strengthened by the fact that Mabhouh had changed his routine. On this trip he travelled without a security detail and rather than using an assumed identity, he booked his ticket under his real name. According to a January 31, report in The National, He has five passports, one of them with his real name the other with different names, and this time he travelled under his actual identity, http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100131/FOREIGN/701309828/1133
Reports of the cause of Mabhouh's death vary widely, all nevertheless presented as factual.
According to an article in Winnipeg Free Press of February 23, Mabhouh was carrying an Iraqi passport with a false name, issued by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and that he came to Dubai to organize another Iranian arms shipment to Gaza via Sudan.
The article surmises that when Mabhouh left his hotel room for a meeting in Dubai four of the hit team, using a sophisticated electronic device, entered his room. They overpowered him on his return and he was dead within 10 minutes. Note the article surmises "With the aid of the same electronic device, they relocked the door from the interior". No mention of the latch and chain.
During the evening, Mabhouh's wife tried to reach him in vain. She alerted Hamas leader Khaled Mash'al who instructed Hamas representatives in Dubai to check. Together with the hotel's manager and the security officer, they forced the door. A local autopsy detected signs of burns from a stun gun on his chest, under his ear and in his groin. Pathologists also discovered that his nose bled before he died. Blood was found on the pillow that was used to smother Mabhouh.
Contradicting the Winnipeg story, Timesonline of Jan 31 reported that there were no suspicious signs and that local doctors diagnosed a heart attack, induced by a drug injected by the hit squad. It reported further that only nine days after the body was found and blood samples sent to Paris for analysis showed signs of poison, did Hamas announce his death and blame Mossad.
Faiq al-Mabhouh, the deceased's brother told AFP by telephone, that the first results of a joint investigation by Hamas and the United Arab Emirates show Mahmoud was killed by an electrical appliance that was held to his head. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3841395,00.html
On January 31, Emirati Law reported that without commenting on whether Mabhouh was electrocuted or tortured, Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Chief of Dubai Police, said that forensic examination point out that the deceased was suffocated with a pillow in his hotel room by a professional criminal group. http://www.emiratilaw.com/default.aspx?action=DisplayNews&type=2&id=5250&Year=31/01/2010
Doubts that Mahmoud Mabhouh was murdered are reinforced by a news item published by Ma'an the Palestine News Agency announcing the death of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, "who died of terminal cancer in a hospital in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday".
Strangely, the Ma'an report was published on the date of Mabhouh's death despite the fact that the official announcement was made only nine days later as reported in Timesonline.
It is interesting to speculate how Ma'an knew of Mabhouh's death almost instantaneously if not before it happened and why it was unable to coordinate with the Dubai authorities as to the cause.
Assuming that Mabhouh was in fact murdered, it is interesting that contrary to the kneejerk reaction of Western media in accusing only Israel, the Dubai Police chief pointed a finger at Hamas. The Indian Siasat Daily reported that the Chief of Dubai Police told Gulf News that a Hamas member had played a significant role in the killing. http://www.siasat.com/english/news/dubai-police-chief-calls-internal-hamas-probe
On February 17, the English edition of Asharq Alawsat carried the headline "Palestinian Dubai Murder Suspects are Hamas Members Palestinian Security Official"
PA police spokesman General Adnan al-Dameeri said, "we have complete information about their identities, and I say to you, they work for the security apparatus of Hamas, and one of them holds the rank of major .. it is up to Hamas to answer."
He also said "I ask Hamas to reconsider and open investigations into all previous assassinations, and inform us how Hamas Interior Minister Said Seyam was assassinated, as well as [former] Hamas leader Abdul Aziz al-Rantissi, and senior Hamas member Ismail Abu Shanab, and many others."
A dispassionate observer cannot help but observe the over-enthusiastic focus on Israel while ignoring the many other avenues that intellectual honesty would require be examined with equal diligence.
In-depth reporting would also give readers some background to Mabhouh and the purpose of his visit to Dubai. Readers would be interested to know he was one of the founders of the military wing of Hamas and that he was responsible for arranging arms supplies from Iran to Gaza, that he was a confessed murderer and terrorist and that he had been on the wanted list in Jordan and Egypt had where he had been imprisoned in 2003.
According to a France 24 report of February 20, Mabhouh confessed that he had been at the centre of the killings of Israelis, Ilan Saadon and Avi Sasportas in separate incidents in 1989. He said, "Before burying Sasportas, we stripped him of his clothes and took his IDs, wallet ... and his personal weapon."
Saadon was kidnapped and taken to Gaza where he was killed. Mabhouh said, "I pulled out my revolver and pointed it at his) head to shoot him, but Abu Suhaib was faster than me. He shot him with his own pistol,". http://www.france24.com/en/20100207-slain-hamas-militant-admitted-role-killings
With regard to the use of forged passports the Dubai authorities have disclosed complete details of those used by the supposed assailants leading to immediate protests by Britain and other countries. By contrast, no interest at all is shown in the use of FIVE false passports by Mabhouh. Why, one must ask has no journalist asked the Dubai authorities for the names of the holders and countries of the fake passports used by Mabhouh.
The Mabhouh incident strikingly exposes the hysterical hyperbole that the media eagerly adopts whenever an opportunity occurs to lambast Israel.
While it is difficult to believe that respectable media published some of the wild assumptions and allegations that have been evident in recent days, it will be difficult to beat the drivel that BBC host Eddie Mair allowed an interviewee to spout in a broadcast on Radio 4s PM program on February 17.
The interviewee, fiction writer Gordon Thomas, author of Gideons Spies allowed his creative imagination to go wild and created a new fiction that that up to one million Jews worldwide are part of Mossad and stand ready to assist in executions. It should trouble all who understand the distinction between free speech and inflammatory hate speech that the BBC with its global network allows mendacious, irresponsible nonsense of this nature without calling the interviewee to order.
The wide discrepancies in the "information" provided by different media indicate a worrying tendency among journalists to present conjecture as fact in blatant violation of journalistic ethics.
Yes, there is certainly much more than meets the eye, in reports about the death of Mabhouh in Dubai, not least, the mystery of the door, securely locked and chained on the inside when the body was found.