Dubai officials privately have suggested Mossad may be involved, but have also floated alternate theories.
"It could have been Mossad, it could be a subcontract of Mossad, it could be an Arab government trying to do a favor for another government, or it could be a deal gone bad. Mossad would strike anywhere," said Dr. Theodore Karasik, a security expert with Dubai-based think tank INEGMA.
Dubai has been the scene of several high-profile assassinations over the past two years, in particular the murder of Lebanese pop star Suzanne Tamim and the killing of Chechen ex-rebel leader Sulim Yamadayev. Both of them were slain in a luxury seaside complex know as the Jumeirah Beach Residences. Yamadayev was shot in the parking garage with the murder weapon, a gold-plated pistol, left behind at the crime scene.
The death of Mabhouh brought echoes of regional vendettas onto the emirate's soil. Dubai, an environment largely free of local politics, is a melting pot of people and interests that overlap and often collide. Its role as a transit hub means people come and go in every direction. Mabhouh, based in Syria, flew to Dubai from Damascus, and was slated to leave a day later to the Sudan.