“This is not a James Bond movie…” said one official when asked about the murder in Dubai of an alleged arms dealer, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh…
But as Panorama’s Jane Corbin found out, it might have been a plot lifted right out of an Ian Fleming manuscript.
Jane narrated a fascinating and lengthy timeline which culminated in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, and it began with the fact that several of the so called assassination team were using fake British passports.
That fact has of course highlighted not only the relative ease of obtaining a false UK passport but also caused a political storm over whether the true nationality of any of those involved was indeed British.
However, that aside, this edition of Panorama made for riveting viewing as Corbin narrated the story that’s so fantastical, even Fleming may have baulked at releasing it, fearing his readership wouldn’t be able to suspend their disbelief.
Using CCTV footage, primarily from all around Dubai, Corbin relayed how the ‘team’ planned and finally executed their plot to murder Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, and how Mossad were thought to have commissioned the murder.
Al-Mabhouh was killed by first being injected with a muscle relaxant – to ensure he couldn’t fight off his killers – and then suffocated by a pillow, but to be honest, the murder was something of a secondary issue for this edition of Panorama, and it focused more on the issue of stolen British identities.
But as ever with Panorama, one had to marvel at how in-depth their investigation was; from contacting ordinary citizens who were unaware their identities were on international most wanted lists – quite wrongly, since they were victims of this particularly frightening form of fraud – to the government officials who didn’t want this story told in the first place.
Corbin ended her investigation by saying that, with fingers still firmly pointed at Mossad, none of the 27 members of the assassination team had been caught, so were, “likely to get away with it.”
In case you missed this fascinating edition, you can catch it here, on BBC’s iPlayer.