Lebanese security forces revealed on Monday that two Israeli officers participated in the assassination attempt on Hamas official Mohamed Hamdan in Sidon two weeks ago. According to Al-Akhbar, Israeli intelligence not only commissioned local agents to kill Hamdan, but also had its own team in Lebanon; an Israeli woman planted the bomb and her male colleague detonated it. They left the country using Georgian, Swedish and Iraqi passports.
After the assassination attempt, Israeli Minister of Intelligence Yisrael Katz told the Zionist state’s Army Radio, “If Israel was involved in the bombing, then the target would not survive with minor injuries.” Nobody is fooled by this attempt at a disclaimer.
The information obtained by Al-Akhbar indicates that investigators uncovered the Israeli officers’ false identities and photographs, the date that they entered and left Lebanon, their respective roles in the operation and the nationality they made use of in order to move inside Lebanon freely. Lebanon’s Intelligence Gathering Division also identified two Lebanese suspects: Mohammed H travelled to Turkey overnight on 15 January, where he was arrested by local officers after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri contacted Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan. The suspect claimed that he was an Israeli citizen to avoid being extradited back to Lebanon; he is now known to have been working for the Israelis for at least five years. Sources told Al-Akhbar that he revealed that surveillance of Hamdan’s movements began more than seven months ago, before he moved to his home where the assassination attempt took place.
According to investigators, the second Israeli agent was Mohammed B, who was the main operative in this operation. He was responsible for monitoring Hamdan closely, using a warehouse he rented near the Hamas leader’s house on the pretext of storing clothes. The warehouse was apparently cleared of incriminating evidence before the operation took place. Mohammed B left Lebanon overnight on 14 January to Turkey then headed for the Netherlands via Rome. His role was not restricted to surveillance. His superiors told him to accompany a woman from Beirut to Sidon in order to plant the bomb that was placed under Hamdan’s car.
Mohammed B and the unknown woman moved to Sidon at night on Thursday 11 January. It is understood that they wanted to plant the bomb that night because Hamdan used his car only on Fridays and Sundays, due to the school where he teaches being closed on those days. They were disturbed by one of Hamdan’s neighbours, who told intelligence officers that he questioned their presence in the car park. The man believed to be Mohammed B told him that he wanted to wash his hands and that he was from the warehouse. He also mentioned the name of the building’s porter, saying that he was aware of their presence.
After speaking to witnesses, the Lebanese investigators built up a picture of Mohammed B. When he was identified, they interrogated his wife and family members and obtained photographs of him. They also drew a sketch of the woman, whom the witnesses said had East Asian features and wore glasses.
Mohammed B and the unknown women eventually planted the bomb on Saturday night, 13 January, and then went to Beirut. She left the country through Beirut International Airport to go to Qatar, and from there to a third country that has not yet been determined.
On Sunday morning, 14 January, Mohammed B went with an unknown man to Sidon and watched Hamdan’s car from more than 100 metres away. Hamdan opened the car door and started the engine before getting inside; this probably saved him for more serious injury or death, because the bomb was detonated by the unknown Israeli, who thought that the Hamas man had got into the driver’s seat.
After a detailed investigation, both of the Israelis were identified from their no doubt false passports. The man used dual nationality Iraqi and Swedish passports, and the woman used Georgian documents. The investigators are looking into the possibility that more Israeli agents were involved.
Security and political sources in Lebanon hinted at the similarities between the assassination attempt and the killing of Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in Dubai in early 2010, and the role of Israeli intelligence in the operation. Most of the hit squad in Dubai are known to have been Israelis using false passports of other states.