Saturday, April 24, 2010

Terrorist With A Five-Star Tab

Who was paying for the luxury lodgings of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh?

Claudia Rosett
22 April '10
Posted before Shabbat

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Were it not for the recent, high-profile murder of a Hamas terrorist leader on the premises, the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel would be notable mainly for its glitz and comfort. As it is, in the many stories written about the death of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, found suffocated to death in his Al Bustan guest room in January, the hotel's five-star rating has been mentioned mostly in passing.

When I dropped by the Al Bustan Rotana during a recent trip to Dubai, it struck me that the luxuriousness of the hotel has not been fully conveyed. That matters. The opulence with which al-Mabhouh surrounded himself on his fatal trip underscores some big unanswered questions, not about the alleged killers (whose trail has received plenty of official attention) but about al-Mabhouh (whose doings in Dubai have yet to be explained).

Al-Mabhouh was, after all, a senior member of Hamas--a Palestinian organization that expects of its underlings an austere dedication to Islamic law and tutors them to sacrifice everything for such Hamas charter causes as the destruction of Israel. Al-Mabhouh, like a number of other Hamas leaders, was based in Damascus. But he was a big cog in a Hamas system that in 2007 seized complete control of Gaza and with the backing of Iran has made it a priority to saturate Gaza with weapons, while the population lives in poverty--dependent on massive handouts from places such as the U.S. and European Union, much of that funneled via outfits such as the United Nations.

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