This, from a former CIA chief of station:
The point is that in this day and time, with ubiquitous surveillance cameras, the ability to comprehensively analyse patterns of cell phone and credit card use, computerised records of travel documents which can be shared in the blink of an eye, the growing use of biometrics and machine-readable passports, and the ability of governments to share vast amounts of travel and security-related information almost instantaneously, it is virtually impossible for clandestine operatives not to leave behind a vast electronic trail which, if and when there is reason to examine it in detail, will amount to a huge body of evidence.
A not-terribly flattering article about Mossad:
It would be surprising if a key part of this extraordinary story did not turn out to be the role played by Palestinians. It is still Mossad practice to recruit double agents, just as it was with the PLO back in the 1970s. News of the arrest in Damascus of another senior Hamas operative though denied by Mash’al seems to point in this direction. Two other Palestinians extradited from Jordan to Dubai are members of the Hamas armed wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam brigades, suggesting treachery may indeed have been involved. Previous assassinations have involved a Palestinian agent identifying the target.
There’s no proof, of course, that Mossad was behind this operation. But the author is certainly right that the Palestinians believe that Mossad was behind it.
The Cold Spy lists what he sees as the mistakes made:
1. Using passport names of real people not connected with the operation.
2. Airport arrival without disguises in play thus showing your real faces.
3. Not anticipating the wide use of surveillance cameras in Dubai.
4. Checking into several hotels prior to checking in at the target hotel thus bringing suspicion on your entire operation.
5. Checking into the same hotel that the last person on the team checked into in order to change disguises.
6. Not anticipating the reaction that the local police had upon discovery of the crime, and their subsequent use of surveillance cameras in showing your entire operation to the world in order to send you a message that such actions or activities will not be tolerated on their soil.
7. Not anticipating the use of surveillance camera footage being posted on YouTube, thus showing everything about your operation right down to your faces and use of disguises to the masses around the world.
8. Using 11 people for a job that one person could have done without all the negative attention to the operation. For example, it could have been as simple as a robbery on the street with a subsequent shooting to cover it all up for what it really was.
9. Using too much sophistication in the operation showing it to be a high level intelligence/hit operation, as opposed to a simple matter using one person to carry out the assignment who was either used as a cutout or an expendable person which was then eliminated after the job was completed, thus covering all your tracks without one shred of evidence leading back to the original order for the hit.
10. Arriving too close to the date or time of the hit. Had the team arrived a few weeks earlier they could have established a presence in the city thus seeing all the problems associated with carrying out said assignment thus calling it off or having a counter plan whereby something else could have been tried elsewhere or in another country.
11. And to take everything to 11 points, not even noticing (which many on your team did in fact notice) all the surveillance you were under, and not calling the entire thing off because of it, and because you failed to see all of your mistakes made so far and then not calling it off because of them.
I disagree with a bunch of those.
EDITED TO ADD (4/13): The Cold Spy responds in comments. Actually, there’s lots of interesting discussion in the comments.