The Assassination of Khalid Mashaal

This is a story that has always fascinated me. It sounds like a plot taken out of some espionage movie but happened right here in Jordan, and fairly recently as well: in 1997 (though I have no recollection of it at the time). Before the expulsion of the Hamas movement from Jordan, Mashaal, currently chairman of the movement, was the chief of the Jordanian branch and resided in Amman. He was the target of an assassination attempt under orders of then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But what’s weird is that I stumbled across two completely different accounts of the actual attempt. Behold:

Scenario 1: Mossad agents, in the country posing as Canadian tourists, broke into a home where Mashaal was sleeping and injected a deadly poison into his neck. Jordanian authorities arrested two of the ten agents who were engaged in the attempt. [Source: Wikipedia]

Scenario 2: And this is the story that I had previously heard. This one took place in broad daylight. On September 25th, 1997, two Mossad agents brushed past Mashaal on his way to office and attached a device to his ear that unleashed the poison into his body. The agents quickly got into a getaway car but were captured by the police after being cornered by Mashaal’s bodyguard. They were found to be carrying Canadian passports which turned out fake. [Source: The American Jewish Yearbook 1998]

Both scenarios had the same ending though. As Mashaal lay dying in a hospital bed, a furious King Hussein demanded that Israel deliver the antidote to the untraceable poison, which at first Netanyahu refused but then turned over after increasing pressures, and Mashaal survived the attempt.

The Mossad agents in custody were later released in exchange for the release of Ahmad Yassin, the founder of Hamas who was serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison. The entire episode helped Mashaal’s rise to power in the movement.

Pretty fascinating, huh?

It’s pretty ironic that if Netanayahu wins, he would have to deal once again with the same man he tried to kill.

2 responses to “The Assassination of Khalid Mashaal

  1. the incident also helped redeem king hussein’s initial support for netanyahu, which wasn’t taken well both domestically and regionally.

  2. Another reason to ‘consider the source’ when it is Wiki.I remember that event, and being appalled that it didn’t seem to make the news much.

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