It seems as though the Israeli scandal that emerged following the assassination of Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh 10 months ago will simply not go away; nor should it. The revelation in January that Al-Mabhouh had been assassinated in his Dubai hotel room by an assassination squad involving 33 suspects caused an international outcry, not only because of the extrajudicial nature of the execution, nor the fact that it was so clearly orchestrated by such a large team of assassins; nor even that it was carried out in Dubai embroiling that country in an murder investigation with global scope, but also because it involved the use of 45 forged passports; passports forged from countries around the world, including 19 from the UK.
The finger of blame immediately pointed to Israel – hit squads and forged passports do seem to be the modus operandi of Mossad's infamous assassins – and they have been implicated many times for such criminal acts in the past. The Chief of police in Dubai, Dhahi Khalfan, said very early on that he was "99%" sure that Mossad was behind the murder, a view quickly shared by many experts and officials who looked into the case. The belief that Mossad was responsible was so compelling in fact that the British government expelled an Israeli official in protest (it is claimed that he worked for Mossad). The Australian and Irish governments expelled their Israeli diplomats too.
A British citizen using a "dead" Israeli soldier's name
Although the story seemed to die down for a few months it has now resurfaced following a report in the Wall Street Journal on Friday (8th October) which revealed that one of the primary suspects in the assassination of Mabhouh, British citizen Christopher Lockwood, was in fact not born as Christopher Lockwood but as Yehuda Lustig. Born to Jewish parents in Scotland, who were both from British Mandated Palestine, Yehuda apparently changed his name in 1994 to Christopher Lockwood. But why did Yehuda change his name? It has been suggested that this was to make it easier for him to travel between the UK and Arab countries where he seems to have acted as facilitator for the other assassins seemingly connected to Mossad.
This new revelation now directs the spotlight back onto Britain. Not only is a British citizen at the top of the suspect list but he also operated, at the time of the assassination, under a different name to the one he was born with. Who exactly facilitated his change of name and the issue of a new passport (a passport the UK government has confirmed is genuine)? Was there someone on the inside helping him to forge his new identity or was he acting alone? This is one obvious question that the British authorities would do well to answer.
It has now also emerged that Mr Lockwood is something of a ghost. According to the Wall Street Journal he is a British citizen who has mysteriously left behind no paper trail. He has no public health record; no tax records; he has never even paid a TV licence (a legal requirement for anyone who owns a TV). He has never returned back to the address that is officially recorded as his place of residence. Even more ominous now is the startling revelation that Yehuda Lustig, the name Mr Lockwood was apparently born with, was reportedly killed in the October 1973 War, according to official Israeli state obituaries and Yehuda's own family! So is Christopher Lockwood really Yehuda Lustig, in which case he faked his own death, or was the dead Israeli soldier just one more identity stolen by this British murder suspect to help him in his commission of crimes for Israel?
Individuals such as Lockwood, whoever he really is, pose a grave threat to British society. If they are British citizens living under false names but with their true loyalty being to the Israeli state and their true service being to a foreign secret service, then they pose a grave risk to our country. Today their targets may be Hamas officials but who is to say who their targets will be tomorrow? If their loyalty to Israel can involve them in murdering people abroad, who is to say that their next assassination target won't be here in Britain instead? This also begs the question as to how many British citizens are in fact operatives for the Israeli army and Israeli secret service agency Mossad. We know that many British citizens have joined the ranks of the Israeli Army and go over to join the Israeli Occupation Forces but neither the British nor the Israeli authorities ever reveal how many British citizens are involved in this double life, although many would agree that we have the definitive right to know.
A lack of international co-operation
This leads to another problem in this whole scenario, a lack of international co-operation with the investigators. Although the British and French authorities seem to be co-operating with the Dubai authorities, Israel, as per usual, refuses to have anything to do with any investigation into its own wrongdoing and criminal offences. America seems to be, if not actively obstructing the investigation, then at the very least most unhelpful. Two suspects are reported to have fled to the US in the time immediately after the killing, using forged passports. There is electronic evidence to prove that the two suspects did indeed show up on planes bound for the US and yet the American Department of Homeland Security claims to have no record of the suspects in their system. As such, the lead on those two suspects ends cold with them entering the US where presumably they have found a safe haven from prosecution for their crimes.
Germany has been similarly remiss in apprehending the suspects. One of the suspects was extradited from Poland and yet the German authorities held him only temporarily on the least of all possible charges – document fraud – and then released him, following which he fled immediately back to Israel where he is now safe from the new German arrest warrant that has been issue in his name for espionage.
It has been suggested by many that politics will play a huge role in hampering the investigation into Al-Mabhouh's death and that does indeed seem to be the case. As the Wall Street Journal report states "from the start some international investigators and officials were concerned that politics might interfere… the US and many Western nations have for decades quietly worked with Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies, benefiting from their intelligence gathering in the Middle East and beyond."
Nevertheless, regardless of any strong historical co-operation between countries such as Germany and Israel or any historical guilt, Germany, as do all other countries, have a duty to see that criminals are brought to justice. A man is dead and the Dubai authorities have promised to keep the investigation alive until the "end of time". This case may be politically sensitive and this may require some degree of discretion and diplomacy in some elements of the investigation but whether the investigation is public or not, what are needed are results. Somewhere out there are dozens and dozens of people implicated in this murder and yet until now, no one has publicly been brought to justice. One man has reportedly been arrested but his name has yet to be revealed. This is a situation that must be remedied through mutual international cooperation and an adherence to the law.
It seems that the fallout from this assignation is nowhere near an end. Only yesterday it was reported that the Irish Ministry of Defence cancelled an arms deal with Israel which supplied the British army with 20 million bullets a year opting to sign new deals instead with countries such as Brazil and Belgium. This has been interpreted as a reaction to the Al-Mabhouh case in which the assassins used forged Irish passports.
This whole episode has also brought into question the reputation Mossad seems to have garnered for itself over the years as an omnipotent omniscient organisation. For them to be unable to carry out a single assassination without causing such an international public uproar calls into questions their supposed skill. Add this to the recent outcry over their massacring of internationals on board the Mavi Marmara and the term "Israeli intelligence" seems to be becoming something of an oxymoron!
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.