The Palestinian Authority (PA)'s ex-Security Chief Mohammed Dahlan arranged for US mercenaries to carry out targeted assassinations in Yemen on behalf of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The deal emerged yesterday after the founder of the security firm hired by Dahlan – Hungarian-Israeli security contractor Abraham Golan – gave an interview to Buzzfeed News in which he detailed the elaborate details of the arrangement.
Golan told Buzzfeed that his firm – Spear Operations Group – began its contracted killings of clerics and politicians at the end of 2015, at the behest of the UAE. One of the main targets was political party Al-Islah, which the UAE sees as the Muslim Brotherhood's branch in Yemen. Golan claims that he was told in his first meeting with Dahlan to help "disrupt and destruct" Al-Islah, so subsequently assembled a team of mercenaries to carry out the operation. Dahlan promised that the team would receive $1.5 million a month in return, Haaretz reported.
The team of mercenaries was comprised of former US Special Forces and Navy SEALs, with Buzzfeed describing how on 29 December 2015 "their job was to carry out [the] assassination [of] Anssaf Ali Mayo, the local leader of the Islamist political party Al-Islah". The armed attack was "described to BuzzFeed News by two of its participants and corroborated by drone surveillance footage." The attack involved the mercenaries attaching "a bomb laced with shrapnel to the door of Al-Islah's headquarters, located near a soccer stadium in central Aden, a key Yemeni port city".
Buzzfeed emphasises that while it was previously known an operation was carried out against Mayo, this is the first time it has been revealed that the perpetrators were US mercenaries working on behalf of the UAE. It adds that:
Experts said it is almost inconceivable that the United States would not have known that the UAE — whose military the US has trained and armed at virtually every level — had hired an American company [Spear Operations Group is incorporated in the USA] staffed by American veterans to conduct an assassination program in a war it closely monitors.
The deal between Golan's company and the UAE was struck by Mohammed Dahlan – the PA's Security Chief during the Oslo years until his resignation in 2007. He has since been living in exile in the UAE and worked as a close adviser of Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Dahlan reportedly met Golan and former US Navy SEAL Isaac Gilmore at an Italian restaurant in the officers' club of a UAE military base in Emirati capital, Abu Dhabi. Golan and Gilmore conditioned their provision of US mercenaries on their being incorporated into the UAE's Armed Forces, as well as their weapons and target list coming "from uniformed military officers". Golan explained this condition was included "for juridical reasons […] because if the shit hits the fan [the UAE uniform and dog tags would mark] the difference between a mercenary and a military man". Dahlan and the UAE government agreed to Golan's conditions and signed off on the deal, Buzzfeed reports.
The UAE has been heavily involved in the civil war in Yemen, which has been ongoing since 2011, forming an integral part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting in the country. The US and Britain have provided weapons, intelligence and other support to the coalition, with the war seen as one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes of the 21st century.