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Part of Mossad assassination team

As a genre films about or using surveillance systems have a fairly long history.  I’ve seen a few of them, from Rear Window and Peeping Tom to some more recent “avant garde”  items.  However none I have seen previously matched this one, about a half hour of surveillance camera imagery from Dubai, in which we trace the seemingly complex choreography of an assassination team, presumably directed by Mossad, the Israeli secret service, as they go about killing Mahmoud al Mabhouh, a Hamas operative long wanted by the Israelis.

Whether the fascination of this derives from the dense interplay of some 14 or perhaps 26 players, some changing costumes and disguises, delivering messages, or from the furtive glances of the victim as he goes to his room where death awaits him, I am not sure.  Or perhaps it is from the frisson of knowing before the fact that one is observing the preparations for an actual murder.   Or perhaps it is from the sequence of unstated matters – the expense of all these characters being flown first to Dubai, checking into multiple classy hotels, coordinating via calls to an Austrian telephone exchange, leaving after the job was done apparently without checking out from the hotel, or leaving a long trail of evidence as shown in these images.

Mahmoud al Mabhouh’s picture held by his father at funeral in Gaza

The real “action” of the film is all off-screen – the entry into the victim’s room, the room opposite visited by a long string of accomplices, the actual killing.  One wonders why the hallway is not shown – surely there must be a surveillance camera that observed it.   Or such mysteries as how did they gain access to the room, and then how did they leave the room such that the internal latch was set to lock?  And why did Mossad hire a fistful of Irish, English, German, Australian and other non-Israeli’s to carry out this execution?  What is the political connection – IRA, RAF?  Or are these merely ideologically neutral assassins for hire?  Or are they all Israelis using faked or stolen passports?   And now, their cover blown, their pictures and names plastered across the internet, where are they going to spend the balance of their lives in hiding, for surely there will be attempts to even the score.

As cinema this curious piece is well-worth your time though it may make your next visit to a large corporate hotel a bit different in your mind.

Powell and Peeping Tom

For other thoughts on surveillance as cinema, see this, and for some thoughts on this assassination, see this.  Need we note that mainstream US media gave this matter scarcely a glance.


  1. Fine piece, but instead of the brief video regarding the murder of Mabhouh, see Chris Marker’s far more intriguing Stopover in Dubai. He put such footage to far more inventive and haunting use:

    • Hi Thanks for this haunting little piece. What I’d posted wasn’t I think really made by anyone, it was just the raw reportage. Naturally an artist like Marker could and did make something quite different of it. I think so more people see this I’ll put it on a new cinemaelectronica listing in the next day or so. Many thanks.

    • hi,
      i just heared about that film he (Chris Marker) made with that Al Mabhouh material. do you know where i can watch it.
      why is the link not working?


      • Maybe whoever put it up took it down? Or who knows? best jon

      • I tried to find the piece elsewhere but to no avail. The Gorgomancy site was Marker’s own. Maybe he was forced to remove it?

        Here is his YouTube channel, which, aside from other new video works, does have a brief, tantalizing video called IMAGINE which is related to Stopover in Dubai:

        Should have downloaded and save that video when I first found it. Sorry fellas.

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