The Hit On Mahmoud al-Mabhouh In Dubai

The Hit On Mahmoud al-Mabhouh In Dubai

2011 was  a “jackpot” year with the deaths of Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, and many others – both died a Majestic death that I am sure gained each of them high rankings in the their sandy heaven. UBL and AAA died in their own unique ways – one at the hands of Navy SEALs and the other with the old “rocket through the windshield” technique – thanks to our flying lawn mowers (drones) soaring above.

Not to take away from those epic tactics – they are reliable and lethal – but I love the more nefarious ways of killing bad guys and would like to highlight the up-close and personal techniques of assassination.  Lately, Iranian nuclear scientists have been dying on a regular basis, and I’ll soon review those awesome operational acts, but first let’s review one assassination that started all the Mossad hype: The hit on Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai on January 19, 2010.

Snapshot of the Assassination

A team of males and females arrived in Dubai, in alias, some arrived as couples, but most arrived as individuals. They set up surveillance at the airport and waited for the target to arrive. He was identified without pause by the team, then a “discreet/not to lose” surveillance was conducted to his hotel.

Once at the hotel, the team determined his room with more intrusive surveillance techniques without compromise. Once the target was in his room, another team arrived and assassinated him. All of this was done in the very busy Dubai urban environment, undetected, and in less than 24 hours. And when I say less than 24 hours – all members of the team were out of the country and headed home in less than 24 hours.

The operations was very successful and impressive regardless of the media attention it attracted.

Here is some information that you won’t find via Google…well, let me take that back, these days you can find anything if you dig deep enough…

The Tactics

Covertly cross multiple borders, find, fix, and finish the target clandestinely utilizing cover, surveillance, and disguise. Sound simple? Not at all – it’s actually one of the most complex missions.

First, to even get the intelligence required to know where he was going, when he was going to arrive, and how he was getting there – is, in itself, incredible! THEN, stalk him undetected and THEN kill him without compromise to the team – simply awesome.

Make it look like a heart attack? The “kill team” knocked on his door, pushed their way in, and tried to make it look like an accident.

But… how do you make it look like an accident clandestinely?

Not so easy, they decided to try and make it appear as if he died of natural causes – a heart attack. The team used a paralytic drug called succinylcholine (aka “Sux”) to paralyze Mahmoud and render him harmless upon the team’s entry into his hotel room. This drug works immediately when administered intravenously (via a vein).

The team didn’t have time to hold him down, find a good vein, and give it to him properly. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t going to roll his sleeve up either. Instead, they had to increase the dosage and administer it muscularly. The same way you receive any standard shot, in the arm or butt.

So, as they entered the room – they stuck him with the needle. By doing this, the consequence is that there’s a delayed reaction; giving Mahmoud time to realize and reflect that it was his time to die. So he did what most would do when realized death is knocking on the front door, he fought for his life.

Adrenaline, without a doubt, also caused a delay and would have allowed him a little more time – but not much. In the end, they wound up suffocating Mahmoud once the paralytic kicked in, a terrible way to die.

Can you imagine? You’re still awake but can’t move your body – three guys hover over you – you can see them, hear them – but you can not react – you can not move – they tell you in Arabic that it’s time for you to die and proceed to put a pillow over your face – your brain is telling your arms and legs to fight – but the signal just doesn’t make it – you take your last breaths – and drift into nothingness.

The Fight

One member of the “kill team” was injured in the struggle – Mahmoud ended up with a mouthful of forearm (not his own) and then took a big bite out of it, a mouth full of DNA. That turns an “accident” into a murder…not very clandestine once that happens.

The Door Locks

This is the cool part! After the team was long gone and Mahmoud was long dead, the maids came by his room to clean. They did what all maids do, knock several times, announce themselves, and then open the door. When the maids tried to open the door, the interior hasp and chain was engaged, allowing the door to open only three inches or so.

The maids of course were left thinking somebody was in the room either asleep or in the shower. This went on for three days before the maids had management forcefully open the door to find a dead Mahmoud.

The team used a rubber band and a thumb tack to lock the hasp from the outside upon their departure – an old trick, but it served its purpose delaying anyone from discovering his dead body.

So, was this operation covert? Was it done clandestinely? The entire operation was pieced together via surveillance video – did the team ignore the fact that there were video cameras all over the airport and hotel?

Or was this a piece of art for the world to admire?

(Featured Image Courtesy:

  • Brian
    Posted at 09:16h, 15 April Reply


    Any insight on sanitizing after the target was able to retain considerable DNA from the operative?

    I’m writing this reply from a hotel. I’m thinking of finally trying that thumbtack/rubber band gimmick. I’m sure I could scrounge up the material.

    • Clint Emerson
      Posted at 16:59h, 15 April Reply

      No way to completely ensure a “zero trace” clean up when you’re racing against the clock – especially DNA. I agree, use your skills and then figure out ways to defeat them – it will only make you more secure – offense/defense. Thank you for commenting – stay tuned for more.

  • dragan
    Posted at 09:36h, 15 April Reply

    Fascinating, indeed.
    Why didn’t you write stuff like that before?

    • Clint Emerson
      Posted at 16:56h, 15 April Reply

      More to follow

  • Julita Pruitta
    Posted at 11:38h, 15 April Reply

    Not the perfect hit unless it is completely undetected. No bragging rights.

    • Clint Emerson
      Posted at 16:56h, 15 April Reply

      Very true.

  • Craig Cox
    Posted at 17:56h, 15 April Reply

    Interesting! Thanks. Looking forward to more.

  • Bill Bryant Se.
    Posted at 21:20h, 15 April Reply

    Well done! A $20 set of Kevlar sleeves are really helpful on a takedown because a fighter will cut or bite if possible.

  • Bill Bryant Se.
    Posted at 21:22h, 15 April Reply

    Meant to say Bill Bryant Sr.

  • Mike Moody
    Posted at 06:30h, 17 April Reply

    Very nice!

    • Clint Emerson
      Posted at 09:01h, 17 April Reply

      Thank you – more to follow Friday!

  • randy coplin
    Posted at 23:59h, 17 April Reply

    I’m sorry Mr. Emerson,
    i know these are bad guys, but there’s nothing cool about it. violence is a double edge sword that will bite us in the end. i know you guys had to do it, but its not cool. please dont teach people this kind of attitude. May God forgive that man for his sins, and forgive us for ours.

    • Hill Kill3r
      Posted at 10:15h, 21 April Reply

      Mr. Coplin – These are more than just bad guys. They’re despicable human beings with no morals, values or respect for life. These bad guys will kill you and your loved ones without a care in the world. They don’t understand anything but violence. Without Sheepdogs, the wolves will always eat the sheep.

      Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war and my finger for battle – Psalm 144:1

      • Craig Cox
        Posted at 11:30h, 21 April Reply

        From an old Marine, thanks Clint! And thank God there are people willing and able to dispatch these people to the hell they richly deserve.

        Craig Cox

        “He said to them, ‘But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.'”

        — Luke 22:36

        • Clint Emerson
          Posted at 21:38h, 22 April Reply

          Thank you for your comments – the overall goal is for people to take more ownership in their personal security. Most of the targets Ill be writing about could have employed some basic awareness and detected what was about to happen… bad guys are bad and there are no rules when fighting evil.

      • Mike james
        Posted at 07:30h, 22 April Reply

        I won’t sit there and quote the bible but I must agree with what you said 1000 percent, these people are animals all they want is is to kill, and they don’t care if you are man,woman or child. When your enemy knows nothing but violence, the only way to defeat violence is with a higher level of violence. The difference between civilized human beings and animals like that, is civilized human beings know when to turn the animal switch on and back off again……although easier said than don’t sometimes but still a necessary evil.

        • Clint Emerson
          Posted at 21:41h, 22 April Reply

          Thank your comment Mike – bad things need to happen to bad people – and make other bad guys think twice before they decide to do something stupid.

    • Clint Emerson
      Posted at 21:40h, 22 April Reply

      I respect your opinion and thank you for your support! I want people to learn from these actions – ultimately NOT be a victim.

    • Kendra French
      Posted at 12:57h, 17 July Reply

      Responses like yours really get me lit. Your attitude contributes to the very real danger that walks among us-among my kids-because rather than being prepared to jump in & help during an attack, people like you are in shock that the asshole isn’t following your “Jimmy DumDum’s Rules of Living” so you duck & cover to save your own ass.
      Grow up, grow a pair or make like an Iranian scientist & disappear.

    • Kendra French
      Posted at 13:00h, 17 July Reply

      My previous response was for Randy Coplin. Sorry-should’ve said so in the beginning.

  • Mike james
    Posted at 21:54h, 22 April Reply

    I appreciate your willingness to share this knowledge these thing are important for people to know, it’s a reality whether other choose not to open their eyes or not these things are a reality everywhere, and it is good to have this kind of knowledge out there so people can at least read it and click the reality in their heads.Even if they believe eh that will never happen to me,this may still be a potential life saving tool stored away in the subconscious mind.

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