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Tip-Off

No, the title of this post is not a reference to the punchline of a popular circumcision joke, but rather a Daily Mail report that the Mossad tipped off M16 that their agents were about to carry out an overseas operation using fake British passports.

A member of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, said the Foreign Office was also told hours before a Hamas terrorist chief was assassinated in Dubai.

The tip-off did not say who the target would be or even where the hit squad would be in action. But the claim from a credible source that the Government had some prior knowledge of the abuse of UK passports will strengthen calls for ministers to come clean about what they knew and when.

It came as more details emerged of how Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was lured into a trap by Palestinian double agents last month before being smothered with a pillow. The killers tried to make his death look like an accident.

A British security source who met the Mossad agent, and has a track record of providing reliable information, told the Daily Mail: ‘This is a serving member of Israeli intelligence. He says the British Government was told very, very briefly before the operation what was going to happen.

‘There was no British involvement and they didn’t know the name of the target. But they were told these people were travelling on UK passports.’

The security source said that the tip-off was not a request for permission to use British passports but more a ‘courtesy call’ to let the security services know ‘a situation’ might blow up. The Mossad man said Israeli intelligence chiefs understand British authorities will have to ‘slap them on the wrist’ and added: ‘The British government has to be seen to be going through the motions.’

The Israeli’s claims contradict Foreign Office assertions that the UK knew nothing of the affair until shortly before the Dubai authorities went public over the assassination earlier this week.

However officials in the Gulf state have claimed that British ministers may have been alerted by Dubai last month about the use of the passports.

If MI6 received a tip-off from Mossad it is not certain it would have been passed to Foreign Secretary David Miliband, particularly if it was vague. Intelligence officers may have preferred to wait before alerting ministers.

But any suggestion that officials turned a blind eye to an extrajudicial killing will strengthen calls for a public inquiry into the UK’s involvement in the war on terrorism. Judges have already ruled that British spies have been complicit in the torture of terrorist suspects.

It will also fuel suspicions in some Arab countries that Britain was ‘complicit’ in the killing of al-Mabhouh.

A Foreign Office spokesman insisted last night it was ‘not correct’ to claim that Britain knew in advance about the passports.
He said: ‘We received the details of the British passports a few hours before the press conference [by police in Dubai]. We were able to respond to the Dubai authorities on the authenticity of the passports the next day.’

The British source told the Mail he has known the Mossad man for more than 20 years and they met as part of a longstanding arrangement. He said British-Israeli intelligence relations were ‘jogging along very nicely when nobody knew – then it all became public’.

The Israeli agent rejected suggestions that intelligence-sharing between the two nations might be damaged. He said Mossad was handling several sources within the UK Muslim community and added: ‘There is no question of jeopardising that information flow.’

Meanwhile, in another possible indication that Israel was behind the hit, the Israeli embassy in the UK tweeted this yesterday (hat tip: readers):

They were of course referring to Shahar Peer’s victory in the Dubai Open.

Come to think of it, I made a very similar joke yesterday.

I could handle them stealing my identity, but not my jokes!!!

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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