Assassination as a Criminal Tool by the Powerful Against the Weak and Oppressed

Photo Source James N. Mattis | CC BY 2.0

Only recently a spat between Saudi Arabia and Canada made headlines as a result of the Saudi Government’s beheading of a Myanmar guest worker. After the public barbaric and gruesome decapitation, the corpse was crucified on a horizontal post with the truncated head slung in a bag adjacent to the victim’s mutilated corpse.

This is the 21st century, and these are Donald Trump’s BFFs.

I suppose that investing $110 billion in lethal weapons, the purchase of Trump apartments, and real estate deals by Saudis flush with cash exonerates Saudi Arabia’s cold blooded murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the thousands of Saudis and Yemeni dead.

The Saudi penchant for beheadings is intended to put the fear of Allah in Saudi citizens and to quash any criticism of a royal family living high on the khanzir (hog), and a family that is squandering its national wealth on palaces, yachts, jets, expensive vacations abroad, casinos, and a luxurious lifestyle not unlike Harun al-Rashid’s celebrated 9th century epoch.

In 2015 the Saudi Government beheaded 158 people; in 2016, 154 people; and in 2017, 146 people – for any number of crimes deemed offensive to the tenets of the ultra-conservative Wahhabi doctrine. And in the first four months of 2018, 32 people were beheaded. The infractions include drug charges, political activism, critiquing the royal family, murder, and rape.

Because of the financial power they yield around the world, the Saudis thought they could get away with an assassination in far-away Istanbul, Turkey.  The fifteen-member assassination team, including a saw wielding forensic scientist, have allegedly killed, beheaded, and dismembered an international journalist  who’s been a thorn in the Saudi theocratic dictatorship. To date and in spite of a belated Saudi admission that Jamal Khashoggi was killed by rogue Saudi elements, no forensic evidence has been produced. The reason? The evidence will be a damning indictment of the dastardly macabre deed.

It took the Saudis and the Trump Administration over two weeks to put one spin after another on this heinous crime with, no doubt, a Trumpian slant akin to the Brett Kavanaugh swampy appointment and sham FBI investigations. While the Saudis have honed the art of beheading, the U.S. (Bush, Obama, Trump) and the Israelis have excelled in the art of assassination. A drone or jet fighter, after all, is a sure target hit on unsuspecting victims in remote areas of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, or Palestine. And a complicit media that chooses to gloss over the killing of innocent civilians is as culpable as the perpetrators.

To gloss over the extent of the far-reaching destruction of Iraq and because Al Jazeera’s revelatory reporting on the complete pulverization of Iraq’s infrastructure and civil society was irksome to Bush the Dumber, on April 16, 2004, Bush suggested to Tony Blair the “taking out” of Al Jazeera’s quarters in Baghdad. While Blair’s reticence shielded Al Jazeera, the Bush war megalomaniacs bombed the Baghdad-based Palestine Hotel. The hotel housed cadres of foreign journalists whose scathing reports on the extent of the indiscriminate and malevolent destruction of human life and materiel was irritating to the powers that be.

Bush was egged on by Chaney, Rumsfeld and other policy advisors that includes, but is not limited to, Feith, Perle, Abrams, Frum, Adelman, Wolfowitz, Kagan, and Kristol – all members of the Israel-first team.

The assassination of Journalists, opposition leaders, human rights and peace activists is a criminal weapon employed by the tyrannically powerful against the defenseless oppressed and vulnerable.

While Syria, Iran, Turkey, Russia and China are (rightfully so) exorcised by American and European leadership and the media for their repression of journalists, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and (especially) Israel, have been shielded by both the West’s political powers and the  media. And brutal dictators such Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates are the American darlings and mechanisms through which cheap oil is guaranteed and a foil for anti-Iran policies.

The first place award for journalistic-repression-by-assassination goes to Israel, “the only democracy in the Middle East.”

Between 1992 and 2018 eighteen Journalists have been killed by Israeli snipers and soldiers. Since August of this year three members of the Gaza Palestinian press corps were also assassinated in cold blood by Israeli snipers given a license to kill medics, children, women, and men. In all cases the journalists wore the journalist’s Blue Flak jackets (emblazoned with an all caps PRESS), and in each of the 18 cases the journalists were singled out so as to prevent the world from witnessing Israel’s ongoing carnage in Gaza and Occupied Palestine. In Gaza, over 100 Israeli snipers were positioned atop a border sand berm to pick off Palestinian protesters as though the killings were a sport, a  skeet shooting competition.

And the same blame the victim tactic employed to smear Dr. Ford and Kashoggi (he is a supporter of the Moslem Brotherhood proclaimed Trump’s many supporters) have been used to smear Palestinian victims, always described by Israeli officials as terrorists or suspected terrorists.

In a 2/2/2018 Newsweek article authored by Jeff Stein under the title “A Secret History of Israeli Assassinations,” Stein draws heavily on espionage journalist Ronen Bergman’s book Rise Up and Kill: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations. Stein describes Ronan as “the veteran Israeli espionage journalist [who’s] taken a slightly different angle into the shadow world of spies, counterspies and assassinations.” Bergman was “Drafted into the Israeli Defense Forces in 1990 [and] spent three years recruiting and handling informants for the army’s criminal investigative division, where he burrowed into military corruption, drug trafficking, arms dealing and other crimes.” According to Stein, Bergman’s army “skills … served him well as Israel’s premier chronicler of the country’s principal spy services—the Mossad (Israel’s CIA), Shin Bet its (internal security organ) and Aman (military intelligence).”

Bergman catalogues six decades of Israeli targeted assassinations for which the Israelis have coined a euphemism:  In Hebrew parlance “Negative Treatment” is synonymous to Targeted Assassinations that includes a long list of people to be “liquidated.”

According to a lengthy list of online Israeli assassinations, the number of political activists assassinated in the Occupied West Bank was as follows: the year 2000, 13 assassinations; 2001, 35 assassinations; 2002, 72 assassinations; and in 2003 the Israeli Government “authorized killing the entire Hamas political” echelon in “a hunting season intended to prop up Mahmoud Abbas.”

Mahmoud Abbas and cronies should be ashamed of themselves for collaboration with the Nazi occupier.

The exponential growth of Israeli assassinations in the three years cited above is primarily due to the fact that the Israelis can do what they want and get away with it. And now that the Saudis and Israel (along with a buffoonish kushnerized  U.S. clownish  foreign policy) are dancing the Saudi desert sword dance in unison, the Saudis have convinced themselves that they are on an equal footing with Israel.

In effect, if Muhammad B. S. is complicit in this crime, then he’s telling his subjects and the world: “We can assassinate with impunity.”

Bergman’s book “catalogues Israel’s six-decade history of ‘negative treatment’ (the Hebrew euphemism for targeted killing operations) …  which, over time, ranged from fugitive German war criminals … to front-line Arab leaders to Iraqi nuclear officials [including] scientists in Iran’s nuclear program.”  And always, of course, “there were the Palestinian leaders, and later Iran-backed Hezbollah militants, to be ‘liquidated.’”

Stein’s meticulous accounting of his Bergman interview is poignant and dovetails with CP contributor’s writings, the late Uri Avneri, who’s convincingly argued that Arafat’s death was planned and executed by Ariel Sharon. Stein writes the following:

I asked Bergman if he came across anything really surprising in his research. Yes, he said quickly. “One day I was sitting in a north Tel Aviv café, not far away from where I live, with someone from the Air Force, and we were discussing all sorts of different topics. And he said, ‘I have something I need to relieve myself of, that I kept for so long.’” It turned out to be the extraordinary story of how, in 1982, on orders from then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, Israeli pilots nearly shot down a civilian plane because of a Mossad team’s mistaken belief that Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir [sic.] Arafat was aboard it. Only a last-second correction by Mossad operatives saved the lives of the passengers, which included Arafat’s look-alike younger brother, Fathi, a pediatrician and founder of the Red Crescent, and 30 wounded Palestinian children he was taking to Cairo for medical treatment. The incident was recounted in a January 23 excerpt in The New York Times. In the book, Bergman hints that Sharon, who was long obsessed with killing Arafat, might have authorized his fatal poisoning in 2004. But even if he knew it to be true, he writes, “the military censor in Israel forbids me from discussing the subject.”

The assassination methods employed by Israeli agents include Hell Fire missiles from Apache helicopters (gifted to Israel by Clinton and Obama compliments of  U.S. taxpayers), drones, motorcycle-riding assassins (in Iran and Malaysia), booby-rigged  telephone booths, phones and cell phones, letter bombs, car bombs, and poison-laced chocolate, to name but a few. Victims were disposed of in their beds, at home and in front family members, including children, while driving, in hospitals, public spaces, schools and university campuses. One of the most dastardly practices employed by Israel Defense Forces is the use of human shields on their assassination hunting trips.  Numerous documented incidents of children placed atop military jeep hoods have been used to enter a Palestinian village or enclave.

As sinister as these assassinations are, the nomenclature ascribed to these murderous acts is equally abhorrent. Operation Sphinx, Operation Spring Youth, Operation Damocles, Project Babylon. Operation Defense Shield, Operation Pillar Cloud, Pillar of Defense, and Mow the Lawn are but a few of these code names.

While the vast majority of those who fell at the hands of Israeli assassins have been residents of Occupied Palestine, Israeli assassinations have been carried out across Lebanon and Syria,  Egypt, Tunisia, Montevideo, Uruguay, Brussels, Belgium, Malta, Jordan, Cyprus, Rome, East Berlin, Saδ Paulo, Norway, Paris, Egypt, and Greece.

Three assassinations stand out. In 1981 Brazilian Air Force  Lt. Colonel José Alberto Albano de Amarante was assassinated in Saδ Paulo “to prevent Brazil from becoming a nuclear nation.” German National Gerald Bull was assassinated in 1990 in Brussels, Belgium because he was allegedly working on Saddam Hussein’s “Supergun.” In 1988 Abu Jihad, PLO’s #2 man was assassinated in his home in Tunis, Tunisia, in front of his family. In 1973 author and poet Kamal Nasser was assassinated in his home in Beirut Lebanon. Because he was a Christian Palestinian, the Israelis hanged him from a cross. Ehud Barak, former Israeli prime Minister led the assassination team; years later he would glibly brag about his bloody deed while costumed in a woman’s attire.

Which brings me to this: Saudi Arabia’s Muhammad B.S. is an Israeli wannabe assassin. Fifteen Saudi characters were dispatched to Istanbul to commit a crime against a Saudi dissident journalist. In 2010 Israel dispatched a team of 33 assassins to kill Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in Dubai. No saws or meat cleavers were used. He was drugged and killed in his hotel room. Experienced as they are, the Israeli team entered Dubai using forged Irish, French, German, British, and Australian passports.

God help us should the Israelis coach the Saudis and all the Arab dictators the fine art of political assassination of dissidents, journalists, and those yearning for freedom.

Raouf J. Halaby is a Professor Emeritus of English and Art. He is a writer, photographer, sculptor, an avid gardener, and a peace activist.