영국 더 타임스가 21일 일요일자로 보도한 기사내용을 그야말로 러프하게 간추려 봤습니다
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이 기사에서 새로 밝혀진 사실은
1. 네타야후가 모사드를 방문해 하마스 암살작전을 승인했다
2. 하마스 암살작전뒤 중동에서 유사한 작전을 실행하려다 모사드 개입이 밝혀지면서 이를 취소했다
3. 두바이 암살팀이 이번 작전에 사용된 여권으로 3개월과 2개월전 두번씩 두바이를 방문, 마부를 미행했다
4. 마부 호텔방 침투 : 2개의 가설, 1안 실패뒤 2안 실행한듯
5. 의사조차 눈치 못챌 정도로 사체가 깨끗했다
6. 모사드 총책임자 디건 해임 직면 등입니다
1월초 어느날 이스라엘 텔아비브 북쪽 근교 작은 언덕에 있는 모사드의 본부 '미드라샤'에 2대의 아우디 A6 승용차가 도착했고 그 차를 타고 온 사람은 네타야휴 이스라엘 총리였습니다
네타야후 총리는 올해 64살의 모사드 총책 미어 디간의 안내를 받으며 브리핑룸에 도착, 모사드 암살실행단 일부 요원으로 부터 하마스 고위간부 암살계획에 대한 간단한 설명을 들었으며 네타야후는 이 암살영장에 최종 서명했습니다
네타야후 총리는 '이스라엘 국민은 당신을 믿고 있다, 성공을 빈다'고 말했습니다
당시 모사드 암살집행단은 하마스 고위간부 마부가 경호없이 두바이를 방문할 것이라는 정보를 입수하고 마부를 그호텔에서 암살하기로 했으며 텔아비브의 한 호텔에서 호텔측도 눈치채지 못하게 예행연습까지 마친 상태였습니다
모사드 총책임자 디건은 샤론총리에 의해 임명된 강경론자로 '우리는 더 강해져야 하며 머리를 써서 우리를 보호해야 한다 홀로코스트가 다시 반복돼서는 안된다'는 신념을 가진 인물이라고 합니다 또 미건 그자신이 젊었을때 작전에 투입돼 다리를 다쳐 현재 지팡이를 짚고 걸어다닌다고 합니다
그러나 이번 작전에서 영국.독일.프랑스인의 명의를 빌린 위조여권을 사용했으며 심지어 외교관 여권까지 사용한 사실이 드러나면서 서방국가들의 반발이 거세지자 최근 모사드는 중동의 한 지역에서 '하마스 고위간부 암살작전'과 유사한 작전을 실행하려다 요원들의 안전을 우려해 이를 취소했다고 모사드내 정보에 정통한 소식통이 말했습니다 지금은 모사드 총책임자 디건이 실각할 지도 모르는 상황이기 때문입니다
모사드는 이번 암살작전의 성공을 위해 수개월동안 치밀한 계획을 세운 것으로 전해졌습니다
두바이경찰는 CCTV에 의해 이번 암살단일원으로 밝혀진 모사드 요원이 이번 작전에 사용된 동일한 여권을 이용해 3개월전 두바이와 중국을 방문한 마부의 뒤를 쫓았고 2개월전에도 그 여권으로 두바이를 방문한 마부를 미행했다는 새로운 사실을 밝혀냈다고 어제 발표했습니다
모사드암살단은 마부 밀착 감시팀, 전체적인 그림을 그리는 총괄팀, 암살실행팀등 3팀으로 나눠서 조직적으로 움직였습니다
마부가 호텔에 도착해 체크인을 할때 한 요원은 마부의 방번호가 들릴 수 있을 정도로 가까운 위치에서 있었고 또 테니스 운동복을 입은 2명의 요원은 실제 마부가 그 방에 들어가는지를 확인하기 위해 마부와 같은 엘리베이터에 함께 탈 정도로 대담한 밀착감시를 했습니다
가장 관심이 집중되는 부분은 모사드가 어떻게 마부의 방에 들어갔고 어떤 방식으로 살해했는가 하는 것입니다
두바이 경찰은 두바이 공항도착, 호텔 도착, 호텔 엘리베이터 탑승등의 CCTV 화면은 공개했지만 마부가 호텔에 들어왔다 이른 저녁 외출한뒤 다시 돌아온 이후의 CCTV화면은 공개하지 않고 있습니다
더 타임스는 2가지의 가설이 가능하다고 추정합니다
제1가설은 마부가 호텔을 나간 사이 모사드 요원들이 마부 방문을 열고 방안에 잠복했다는 가설입니다 그러나 전자식문의 패스워드를 바꾸려 했으나 실패한 흔적이 있는 점등으로 미뤄 미리 방안에 들어가지 못했을 가능성도 있다고 합니다
제2가설은 CCTV에 공개된 미모의 여성요원이 호텔직원으로 가장해 마부에게 문을 열도록 유도했고 문을 열자 암살실행팀이 전광석화처럼 호텔방으로 침투했다는 것입니다
아마도 여러 상황에 대비한 계획이 있었고 미리 문을 열어 잠복한다는 1안이 실패하자 당황해 하면서도 호텔직원으로 가장해 문을 열게 한다는 2안을 실행했을 가능성이 있다는 것입니다
마부가 어떻게 살해당했나 하는 점도 미스테리입니다
모사드 암살단은 약 20분이 채안되는 시간내에 마부를 살해하고 호텔을 떠나면서 '방해하지 마세요'라는 팻말을 문고리에 걸어두었습니다 그 다음날 마부의 아내가 하마스간부에게 남편 핸드폰이 연락이 안된다며 소재파악을 부탁했고 오후 1시이후 호텔직원이 마스터키를 가져와 문을 연 다음에야 마부가 살해된 사실을 알게 됩니다
마부의 방에서는 다툰 흔적이나 마부에게 폭행을 가한 흔적등이 전혀 없었다고 합니다 그야말로 평온한 호텔방의 모습이었고 마부는 잠들어 있어 깨워도 일어나지 않자 의사를 부르고 나서야 사망 사실을 알게 됩니다
두바이 경찰은 질식사라고 사인을 밝혔고 또 다른 정보소식통은 약에 의한 사망이라고 흘렸습니다
또 의사는 심장마비에 의한 자연사라고 밝히기도 했지만 현장에서는 고혈압약이 발견됐고 이 고혈압약이 모사드에서 자주 사용하는 독물이라는 것이 정보소식통들의 전언입니다
1997년에도 네타야후의 승인을 얻은 모사드는 요르단을 방문한 하마스 고위간부에게 접근, 입으로 독극물을 휙 불어서 그의 귀에 맞혀 생사기로에 서게 합니다 그러나 하마스 간부에게 독극물을 발사한 요원 2명이 현장에서 잡혔고 요르단정부가 이들에게서 해독제를 찾아냄으로써 목숨을 건졌다고 합니다
2004년 사망한 야세르 아라파트 팔레스타인 총리역시 모사드의 독극물작전에 의한 것이라는 설이 존재합니다
그러나 정밀감식결과 마부의 몸에서 전기충격기에 데인 화상의 흔적과 질식에 따른 코피의 흔적등이 발견됨으로써 전기 충격기에 의한 질식사도 사인으로 거론되고 있습니다
두바이 경찰은 마부의 사망원인이 불확실함에도 불구하고 이스라엘이 그를 살해했다는 사실은 틀림없다며 모사드 총책임자 디건에 대해 살해혐의로 체포영장을 발급할 것이라고 밝혔습니다
이스라엘의 오랜 우방인 영국도 자국여권이 암살에 사용된 문제로 골머리를 앓고 있는등 이스라엘은 여러 유럽국가들의 강력한 항의를 받고 있으며 이스라엘 정부, 또 모사드 내부에서도 이번 사건에 대해 옹호-비판 양론이 있을 정도로 내홍을 겪고 있습니다
따라서 모사드 총책임자 디건은 그자신이 추진한 암살작전에 그 자신이 파편을 맞게 될 것이라는 예측을 낳고 있습니다
더타임스기사 원문 클릭
IN early January two black Audi A6 limousines drove up to the main gate of a building on a small hill in the northern suburbs of Tel Aviv: the headquarters of Mossad, the Israeli secret intelligence agency, known as the “midrasha”.
Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, stepped out of his car and was greeted by Meir Dagan, the 64-year-old head of the agency. Dagan, who has walked with a stick since he was injured in action as a young man, led Netanyahu and a general to a briefing room.
According to sources with knowledge of Mossad, inside the briefing room were some members of a hit squad. As the man who gives final authorisation for such operations, Netanyahu was briefed on plans to kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a member of Hamas, the militant Islamic group that controls Gaza.
Mossad had received intelligence that Mabhouh was planning a trip to Dubai and they were preparing an operation to assassinate him there, off-guard in a luxury hotel. The team had already rehearsed, using a hotel in Tel Aviv as a training ground without alerting its owners.
The mission was not regarded as unduly complicated or risky, and Netanyahu gave his authorisation, in effect signing Mabhouh’s death warrant.
Typically on such occasions, the prime minister intones: “The people of Israel trust you. Good luck.”
Days later on January 19, Emirates flight EK912 took off from the Syrian capital Damascus at 10.05am. On board, as Mossad had anticipated, was Mabhouh, who was also known by the nom de guerre of Abu al-Abd. The Israelis suspected he planned to travel from Dubai to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas to arrange for an arms shipment to Gaza.
As the Airbus A330 rose into the wintry sky and headed south, Mabhouh, an athletic 49-year-old, could see the minarets of the ancient city — his home since he had been deported from Gaza by Israel more than 20 years before.
He had made the trip to Dubai several times before on Hamas business and had little reason to think that in less than 12 hours he would be dead.
From a highway below a Mossad agent watched the departure of EK912. Knowing from an informant at the airport that Mabhouh, who was travelling under an assumed name, had boarded the flight, the agent sent a message — believed to be to a pre-paid Austrian mobile phone — to the team in Dubai. Their target was on his way.
A few hours later, as the world now knows, Mabhouh was murdered in his hotel room — and the Israeli spy agency nearly got clean away. For days the death appeared to be from natural causes.
When suspicions did arise, it was only because of Dubai’s extensive system of CCTV cameras that the work of the assassination team was revealed.
The cameras recorded the hit-team’s movements, from the moment its members landed in Dubai to the moment they left. Last week their photographs were released by the Dubai police and splashed across the world’s newspapers and television screens.
Mossad is now deeply embarrassed. Its use of the identities of British, French, German and Irish nationals as cover for agents to carry out the hit has angered western governments. In the ensuing diplomatic fall-out, sources close to Mossad said yesterday that it had suspended similar operations in the Middle East, mainly because of fear that heightened security would put its agents at greater risk. Dagan’s job is also on the line.
Howver. few believe that Mossad will give up the secret war it has long waged against Israel’s enemies.
Mossad has had a reputation for ruthlessness since it hunted down the Black September terrorists who massacred 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972. Time and again its vengeful arm has reached out across the Arab world and into Europe, too, smiting enemies.
Under Dagan’s leadership, such operations have increased. Dagan differs markedly from his predecessor, the London-born Ephraim Halevy, a nephew of the late writer and philosopher Isaiah Berlin.
Halevy was dubbed the “cocktail man” for his long chats with foreign diplomats. He shrank from brutal covert operations. Eventually the then prime minister, Ariel Sharon, removed him and appointed Dagan in his place.
The new chief soon began to restore Mossad’s reputation for lethal operations. The tone of his directorship is set by a photograph on the wall of his modest office in the Tel Aviv headquarters. It shows an old Jew standing on the edge of a trench. An SS officer is aiming his rifle at the old man’s head.
“This old Jew was my grandfather,” Dagan tells visitors. The picture reflects in a nutshell his philosophy of Jewish self-defence for survival. “We should be strong, use our brain, and defend ourselves so that the Holocaust will never be repeated,” he once said.
One hit he masterminded was in Damascus two years ago against Imad Mughniyeh, a founder of Hezbollah and one of the world’s most wanted terrorists. Mughniyeh was decapitated when the headrest of his car seat exploded — close to the headquarters of Syrian intelligence.
Six months later, Mossad, in co-operation with special forces, struck again at the heart of the Syrian establishment. General Mohammed Suleiman, Syria’s liaison to North Korea’s nuclear programme, was relaxing in the back garden of his villa on the Mediterranean shore.
His bodyguards were monitoring the front of the villa. Out to sea a yacht sailed slowly by. No noise was heard, but suddenly the general fell, a bullet through his head.
One of Dagan’s most recent concerns has been the rise of the Iranian threat to Israel, both directly and through its links with Hamas. It is in that context that the operation to eliminate Mabhouh should be understood.
Preparations appear to have been in train for months. When Mabhouh landed in Dubai, Mossad agents were waiting for him. They had flown in from Paris, Frankfurt, Rome and Zurich in advance using their forged passports, some based on the details of British nationals living in Israel who were unaware their identities had been stolen. The agents had also obtained credit cards in the name of the identities they had stolen.
Yesterday Dhahi Khalfan, the Dubai police chief, said investigators had found that some of the passports had been used in Dubai before. About three months ago it appears Mossad agents using the stolen identities followed Mabhouh when he travelled to Dubai and then on to China. About two months ago they followed him on another visit to Dubai.
In January, after he had landed and collected his luggage Mabhouh headed for the exit and a taxi for the short ride to the nearby Al-Bustan Rutana hotel. A European-looking woman in her early thirties waiting outside saw him leave and sent a message to the head of the team.
Dubai is a hub of international commerce and intrigue. Scores of Iranian agents are active there and its hotels are often used as meeting places for spies and covert deals. The main concern of the Mossad squad was to corner Mabhouh, alone if possible.
They divided into several teams, some for surveillance of the target and others to keep a look-out, and one for the hit. Some changed their identities as they moved about the city, putting on wigs and switching clothes.
When Mabhouh checked in to the hotel, at least one Mossad agent stood close to him at the front desk trying to overhear his room number. Then two others, dressed in tennis clothes, followed him into the lift to confirm which room he was going to.
According to an Israeli report yesterday he specifically asked for a room with no balcony, presumably for security reasons. The Mossad team booked the room opposite.
Mabhouh left the hotel in early evening, tailed by two of the Mossad team. Hamas also knows where he went and whom he met, but is not saying.
The Dubai police have not released CCTV footage showing exactly what happened next in the hotel, but the available evidence and sources point to two possibilities.
One is that while Mabhouh was out, the hit team entered his room and lay in wait. To do this they would have needed a pass key or would have had to tamper with the lock. It is known that while Mabhouh was out someone had tried to reprogramme the electronic lock on the door to his room.
However, they may have failed to gain entry. If so, the second possibility is that one of the team lured Mabhouh into opening the door after he had returned to his room. Perhaps a woman agent, pictured in CCTV footage in the hotel wearing a black wig, knocked on the door posing as a member of the hotel staff, allowing the hit team to force their way in.
Exactly how Mabhouh was killed remains unclear. The Dubai police said he was suffocated; other sources say he was injected with a drug. But at first sight there was no evidence of foul play.
When the killers left they relocked the door and left a “Please do not disturb” sign on it. Within hours the Mossad agents were flying out of the emirate to different destinations, including Paris, Hong Kong and South Africa.
Nobody suspected anything was wrong until the following day when Mabhouh’s wife called Hamas officials to ask about her husband. He wasn’t answering his mobile phone, she told them. The hotel management was alerted and the room entered.
THERE were no signs of struggle or any violence to Mabhouh, who appeared to be asleep. When he couldn’t be woken, a doctor was summoned from a nearby hospital.
In the room some medicine for high-blood pressure was found — planted by Mossad, say Israeli sources — and the doctor decided that the Palestinian had died of natural causes, possibly from a heart attack. In Gaza and Damascus 40 days of mourning began.
Mossad appeared to have got away with it, though some in Hamas had their suspicions that Mabhouh had been poisoned. They well-remembered a previous Mossad plot in 1997 in which an Israeli agent blew poison into the ear of one of its leaders on a visit to Jordan — an operation authorised by Netanyahu during a previous term as prime minister. The Hamas leader, Khaled Mashal, survived only because two agents were caught — and Jordan demanded that an antidote be handed over.
Some Palestinians also suspect that Yasser Arafat, the long-standing leader who died in 2004, was poisoned, though there has never been any evidence to prove it.
When results of Mabhouh’s post-mortem came through, they were still inconclusive. Yesterday one source claimed that burns from a stun gun were found on his body and that there were traces of a nosebleed, possibly from being smothered. However, no firm evidence of exactly how Mabhouh died, either from natural causes or foul play, emerged.
The uncertainty alone was enough for Hamas to declare that Israel had killed their man. The police investigated, CCTV images were gathered and and the affair began to unravel.
One well-informed Israeli source said: “The operative teams were very much aware of the CCTV in Dubai, but they have been astonished at the ability of the Dubai police to reconstruct and assemble all the images into one account.”
For Israel, the fallout has been considerable and the reverberations continue. The real owners of the stolen or forged passports, several of them Britons living in Israel, have complained that they were innocent victims of a murder plot.
The Mossad agents who used their names have been put on Interpol’s wanted list, and the real individuals are worried that they will now always be associated with the murder of a Hamas official.
Dubai can no longer avoid being embroiled in the Arab- Israeli conflict. It is calling for an international arrest warrant to be issued against Dagan and says it will release more information confirming that this was a Mossad killing.
In Britain there were initial suspicions that the government had been tipped off about the operation, or had even quietly condoned it. William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, demanded to know when the Foreign Office had first found out that British passport holders were involved in the affair.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office insisted there was no mystery or cover-up. “Suggestions that the government had prior warning or was in some way complicit in this affair are baseless,” he said.
“The Dubai authorities told us of the role of British passports on February 15 and we were able to tell them the passports in question were fraudulent the very next day.” This account was backed up by a statement from Dubai’s police chief.
However, the broader question of Britain’s response to Israel’s activities remains unresolved.
Gordon Brown has announced an investigation by the Serious Organised Crime Agency into the identity theft, and David Miliband, the foreign secretary, is expected to address the House of Commons on the issue tomorrow.
Israel is a key ally for Britain in the Middle East and an even closer ally of the Americans. Brown and Miliband will hope that the affair will fade away, though the pro-Arab lobby will try to ensure the matter is not easily buried.
Hugo Swire, MP and chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council, said: “These allegations against the Israeli government need to be answered. This is not something that can just be swept under the carpet. You cannot conduct foreign policy at this extremely sensitive time by this sort of illegal behaviour.”
In Israel the reaction is mixed. Few shed tears over the death of one of Hamas’s top men, but there is dismay that Mossad may have damaged the country’s reputation abroad. Though in time the furore will no doubt blow over, critics of Dagan have renewed their demands for him to go.
The mastermind of Mossad may yet find himself a casualty of his own secret war.
Additional reporting: Jonathan Oliver