The Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, has a long history of using targeted killings to attack the enemies of the Jewish state. For example in the 1970s and 1980s the Mossad tracked down and killed many Palestinian terrorists like Ali Hassan Salamah involved in the planning of attacks like the Munich Olympics massacre and other terror operations. In some cases the Israeli army's elite commando units would do the killing, in others the Mossad would employ car bombs or assassins. In 1998 a botched attempt was made to kill a senior Hamas official in Amman, Jordan, for which Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu was forced to apologize to King Hussein.
Today Iran is at the top of Israeli concerns, especially but not entirely because of its nuclear programme. Iran has for thirty years called for Israel to be wiped off the map of the world and it is a primary patron of two terrorist organisations fighting Israel today, Hizbollah and Hamas.
Netanyahu has told the Mossad that Iran should be its number one priority. It is impossible at this early stage in this story to say whether Israel was involved in this case but it is conceivable. Israel was almost certainly involved the in assassination of the senior Hizbollah terrorist Imad Mughniyah a couple of years ago in Damascus and in the death of a senior Hamas operative in Dubai earlier this year. Both of them were in contact with Iranian intelligence when they were killed.
The head of the Mossad for the last eight years, Meir Dagan, emphasized in his tenure that the Mossad had to take action, not just collect intelligence. As he leaves office, we may have seen his work one more time in operation. His named successor, Tamir Pardo, has spent years in the Mossad and the Israel Defense Forces in these types of operations and will continue to make them a high priority.
Bruce Riedel is a former CIA officer, with 30 years experience as an operative and analyst on Afghanistan and Pakistan. He chaired a review of policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan for the Obama administration
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