- STAFF PICKS
- GIFTS + GIFT CARDS
- SELL BOOKS
- FIND A STORE
More copies of this ISBN
Kill Khalid: The Failed Mossad Assassination of Khalid Mishal and the Rise of Hamasby Paul Mcgeough
Synopses & Reviews
"[It was] all very James Bond. One country needs the antidote held by another, to treat an illness it doesn't understand. The clock's ticking...so the king calls the White House."'"Robert Malley, former senior Clinton administration adviserLittle public notice was taken of a 1997 attempt on the life of the Hamas leader Khalid Mishal by Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency'"even though the audacious hit took place in broad daylight in the streets of Amman, and even though the bungled poisoning immediately set into motion a flurry of international diplomacy, culminating in the direct intervention of then-U.S. President Bill Clinton.A series of tense, high-level negotiations saved Mishal's life, as the Israelis reluctantly handed over the antidote. But Hamas was saved as well. With his new lease on life, Khalid Mishal became'"and remains'"the architect of the Hamas organization's phenomenal ascendancy in the intervening decade. Mishal orchestrated the deadly bombings on targets in Israel and, from his bunker in exile in the Syrian capital of Damascus, continues to pull in donations and support from the Islamic world while directing Hamas's vital social welfare programs.In a headlong narrative'"with high-speed car chases, negotiated prisoner exchanges, and an international scandal that threatened to destabilize the entire region'"acclaimed reporter Paul McGeough uses unprecedented, extensive interviews with Khalid Mishal himself and the key players in Amman, Jerusalem, and Washington to tell the definitive, inside story of the rise of Hamas.
"McGeough (Manhattan to Baghdad) offers a meticulously researched, if in places excessively detailed treatment of Palestinian political history. Based on interviews conducted with key players and Hamas leader Khalid Mishal, the narrative focuses on the attempted assassination in 1997 of Mishal by Mossad, the Israeli secret service, and examines how the bungled poisoning catalyzed Hamas — previously marginalized and labeled a terrorist group — to rise to power. The brazen attempt on Mishal's life in broad daylight while he was taking his sons for a haircut in Amman, Jordan, galvanized the movement; Mishal became a household name in the Middle East and Hamas members called him 'the martyr who did not die.' By 2004, Hamas's refusal to abandon the use of suicide bombers turned international opinion against the organization, but by this time even Jimmy Carter had visited Mishal, and Arafat's PLO had been pushed aside as the sole representative of the Palestinian cause. This is the definitive chronicle of the Middle East crisis during the Clinton years and in the post-9/11 era." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Actuarial tables are not kind to the leaders of Hamas. The Israeli security forces reserve a special fury for the radical Islamic group, and it's tough to be taken seriously as a Hamas leader unless you can prove the Israelis tried to kill you at least once. The group's most notorious bombmaker was killed by an exploding cell phone in 1996. Its quadriplegic founder, Sheik Ahmed Yassin,... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) was in his wheelchair on his way home from a mosque when an Israeli missile struck him down in 2004. This past New Year's Day, a one-ton Israeli bomb flattened the apartment building that housed Hamas firebrand Nizar Rayyan, killing him, all four of his wives and 11 of their children. Given this history, Khalid Mishal, a key Hamas figure since the group's founding two decades ago, can consider himself very lucky indeed. His brush with death came on the streets of Amman, Jordan, in 1997, when an Israeli Mossad agent squirted an exotic poison in his ear. But the would-be assassin and an accomplice were quickly chased down by Mishal's driver, his bodyguard and some passersby. Outraged that the attack took place on Jordanian soil, King Hussein demanded the antidote from Israel as part of the price for releasing the Mossad agents. Under U.S. pressure, the Israelis reluctantly complied. This episode made Mishal an instant legend within Hamas. He became a martyr in a group that reveres them, and did so without the inconvenience of dying. In "Kill Khalid," Australian journalist Paul McGeough uses the botched assassination as the jumping-off point for a timely and thorough examination of Hamas, highlighting the ways in which Israel has intentionally and unintentionally aided its rise. Mishal's near-death experience has been well reported in previous books and articles. But in the circular nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the same characters keep coming back around, and this 12-year-old drama could not be more relevant today. Benjamin Netanyahu was the Israeli prime minister who authorized the attempt on Mishal's life. It proved a huge embarrassment, and though Hamas wasn't part of the peace negotiations, the reckless Israeli action was one of 1,000 cuts that drained the blood out of the peace process that had begun so hopefully with the 1993 Oslo Accords. So what's new? Well, Netanyahu's Likud Party finished a close second in Israel's February elections, and he has been trying to form a coalition government with himself as prime minister. If he succeeds, his most immediate security concern will be Hamas ... led by Khalid Mishal. Back in 1997, President Bill Clinton intervened to calm the Jordanians and contain the political damage from the attempted assassination. This past week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton toured the region and met with Netanyahu in hopes of re-starting negotiations. The cast may be familiar, but one huge difference between then and now is that Hamas is much more powerful, which will greatly complicate any peace effort. McGeough documents how two decades ago Israel initially encouraged the development of Hamas by allowing it to establish schools, health clinics and other social services. Israel's thinking at the time was that Hamas could serve as a religious counterweight to Yasser Arafat's secular Fatah movement and splinter Palestinian loyalties. But once it set down roots, Hamas quickly expanded its role, moving from peace-process spoiler in the 1990s, to suicide-bombing assembly line at the beginning of this decade, to rulers of the ravaged Gaza Strip for the past three years. For such a key figure, Mishal is not well known, even to Palestinians. He was just 11 when his family fled the West Bank in the wake of the 1967 war, and he last set foot there in 1975. After bouncing around the Middle East, he now maintains a relatively low profile in Damascus, where he lives in a guarded compound reserved mostly for Syrian VIPs and foreign diplomats. Yet as much as anyone else in the region today, Mishal is linked to all the key players. He tends to surface at vital moments — such as Israel's assault on Gaza in December and January — and McGeough makes excellent use of him to explain the cross-currents that make the Middle East so messy. To begin with, Mishal must negotiate the friction between Hamas "insiders," the leaders based in Gaza, and the group's "outsiders," exiles like himself. He also figures prominently in the tensions that pit Hamas against Fatah. He is a full-throated advocate of suicide bombings who issued predictably hard-line statements during the recent fighting in Gaza. Yet on those occasions when Hamas turns to diplomacy, Mishal pops up in Egypt or Saudi Arabia to guide the Hamas delegation. He depends on Syria for his security and has links in Lebanon to Hezbollah, a group Hamas has long studied and emulated. Mishal is also on good terms with Hamas' most important patron, Iran, which supplies cash and trains Hamas militants. In short, it's hard to figure out the Mideast jigsaw puzzle without understanding where he fits in. As a reporter, I covered Hamas for years, and it was always tricky gauging Mishal's influence. His exhortations to strike at Israel certainly resonated with the radical youths in Gaza, yet at times it seemed his perch in exile left him out of day-to-day decision-making by Hamas leaders. But Israel has systematically killed many of those leaders, and Mishal's prominence has grown by process of elimination. McGeough makes a strong case that, even from afar, Mishal is deeply involved in daily events in Gaza. The author was with Mishal in his Damascus compound in September 2007, when Al-Jazeera was broadcasting scenes of Hamas security forces beating Fatah protesters in Gaza. An exasperated Mishal spoke by phone to the Hamas security chief in Gaza and told him to ease up. Far too many earnest, lumbering books on the Middle East propose recycled versions of the path to peace. McGeough doesn't offer a solution to the conflict. But he provides a highly instructive account of how Hamas emerged as a potent force and why its faithful honor Mishal as the "martyr who did not die." Greg Myre is a senior editor at National Public Radio and an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute, who reported from the Middle East for more than a decade. Reviewed by Greg Myre, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
(hide most of this review)
Book News Annotation:
Award-winning Australian journalist McGeough has written three books about the Middle East. Here he tells how a team of Israeli government agents utterly fumbled their attempt to assassinate Mishal in Amman, Jordan in September 1997. The 41-year-old Palestinian activist, he explains, was considered too articulate and persuasive in condemning the Israeli occupation from the perspective of Islamic fundamentalism. He begins the story with the expulsion of Mishal's family from their homes in June 1967, and ends it with the February 2008 assassination of yet another Hamas leader, with a bomb in downtown Damascus. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A leading international correspondent reconstructs the pivotal moment in the rise of Hamas'"a page-turning narrative reminiscent of The Day of the Jackal.
“Providing a fly-on-the-wall vantage of the rising diplomatic panic that sent shudders through world capitals” (Toronto Star), Kill Khalid unfolds as a masterpiece of investigative journalism. In 1997, the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad poisoned Hamas leader Khalid Mishal in broad daylight on the streets of Amman, Jordan. As the little-known Palestinian leader slipped into a coma, the Mossad agents’ escape was bungled and the episode quickly spiraled into a diplomatic crisis. A series of high-stakes negotiations followed, which ultimately saved Mishal and set the stage for his phenomenal political ascendancy.
In Kill Khalid, acclaimed reporter Paul McGeough reconstructs the history of Hamas through exclusive interviews with key players across the Middle East and in Washington, including unprecedented access to Mishal himself, who remains to this day one of the most powerful and enigmatic figures in the region. A “sobering reminder of how little has been achieved during sixty years of Israeli efforts in Palestine” (Kirkus), Kill Khalid tracks Hamas’s political fortunes across a decade of suicide bombings, political infighting, and increasing public support, culminating in the battle for Gaza in 2007 and the current-day political stalemate.
About the Author
Paul McGeoughis the former executive editor of Australia's Sydney Morning Heraldand the author of three books on the Middle East. He has twice been named Australian Journalist of the Year and in 2002 was awarded the Johns Hopkins University-based SAIS Novartis Prize for excellence in international journalism. He lives in Sydney, Australia.
What Our Readers Are Saying
Other books you might like