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Kill Khalid: The Failed Mossad Assassination of Khalid Mishal and the Rise of Hamas

Kill Khalid: The Failed Mossad Assassination of Khalid Mishal and the Rise of Hamas

3.2 4
by Paul McGeough

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“[P]roviding 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


“[P]roviding 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.

Editorial Reviews

Greg Myre
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…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."
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

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. (Mar.)

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Kirkus Reviews
Despite the title, Israel's disastrously botched 1997 attempt to murder a key Hamas leader plays a minor role in this gripping and discouraging history. Readers will receive one of many jolts as Sydney Morning Herald chief correspondent McGeough (Manhattan to Baghdad, 2003, etc.) reveals that America and Israel welcomed Islamic fundamentalism to the occupied territories during the 1960s and '70s, pleased that these pious Muslims despised Yassar Arafat and his secular Palestine Liberation Organization. Khalid Mishal was 11 when his devout family fled to Kuwait after the Israeli conquest of the West Bank in 1967. Brilliant in school, he taught at Kuwait University from 1978 to 1984 while leading members of the Islamic Association of Palestinian Students in often violent clashes against students who supported the PLO. He was involved with Hamas from its founding in 1987, and by 1991, when he moved to Jordan, he was one of the organization's leaders. Hamas soon launched a murderous campaign of suicide bombings, which led to a equally murderous Israeli response, including the assassination of Hamas leaders. After 30 years of denouncing Arafat as a terrorist, American leaders hoped he would lead the patchy new Palestinian state, but it was too late. While the PLO was largely a guerrilla organization, Hamas spent 20 years providing clinics, schools and food to Palestinian civilians, social services that brought their reward in the 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council elections. Outraged that voters had chosen the wrong people, America cut off aid, thereby falling in line with Israel's policy of encouraging Palestinians to seek peace by making them as miserable as possible. A journalistictour-de-force, and a sobering reminder of how little has been achieved during 60 years of Israeli efforts in Palestine.
From the Publisher

"More than just a thriller with endnotes. The author’s accumulated contacts over the years have given him rare access to most of the individuals at the centre of the Hamas story." —The Times Literary Supplement

"An incisive insider’s history about one of the world’s most intractable conflicts—and a ripping yarn to boot." —Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker

"Suspense-filled." —Vanity Fair

"McGeough’s work reminds us what real journalism looks like. " —Firedoglake.com

"[A] riveting account of Israel’s botched poisoning of Mishal." —Library Journal

Product Details

New Press, The
Publication date:
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Barnes & Noble
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Paul McGeough is the chief correspondent and a former editor of Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald and 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.

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Kill Khalid: The Failed Mossad Assassination of Khalid Mishal and the Rise of Hamas 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
B-2 More than 1 year ago
I read a lot about the Israeli-Arab history, and was looking forward for a book about this interesting incident ( actually, it briefly covers the whole biography of Kh. M. and Hamas). This work certainly is very informative and has a lot of little-known material. However : first, it is too dry and tedi...mmm...scholarly for a general reader such as me ( even though I have a reasonable basic knowledge of the region and conflict ). It certainly isn't a page-turning thriller for anyone on vacation. Second, to author's credit , he tries to keep "just-the-facts" approach. ( it's obvious that his sympathies mostly are not on Israel's side). Nevertheless, the book still leaves you with the feeling that another side of the narrative is left out - even though there is a lot of interesting in the side of the story which IS told. Finally, it appears that the author made his goal to achieve an impossible : write a 470 p. book about Kh. M. while avoiding at all cost the use of word "terrorist!" Probably , more out of BBC-style polit-correctness than out of support of Hamas - but come on, this is ridiculous!! The perpetrators of "Achille Lauro" atrocity are delightfully called "merciless gunmen"!? What would you say about the book on the great whites without a single word "shark" in it?----------------------------------------------- I grade the books as Buy and Keep (BK), Read Library book and Return ( RLR) and Once I Put it Down I Couldn't Pick it Up ( OIPD-ICPU). Sorry, but this one was a total OIPD-ICPU for me.
Mikey92 More than 1 year ago
This is a good read overall, providing a detailed view of the inner workings of Hamas and the conflict in the Middle East. However, it is very skewed in favor of Hamas and against Israel. Sometimes it provides a "rosy" view of Hamas. Nonetheless, I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the Israel/Palestinian conflict.
WordsofTruth More than 1 year ago
Mr. McGeough spins an eye-opening account of recent history that is well worth the read. The inclusion of the chronology in the back is very helpful in keeping the historical timeline in mind as the chapters do not necessarily flow consecutively. Many already believe we are seeing events unfolding that have been predicted 2,000 years ago, hence the oft repeated description of things being "apocalyptic". But seeing and reading actual history is far more believable and thought provoking about the hand of The God of the Bible in life than the 'science fiction' books and movies we are so bombarded and intellectually numbed with. For the most part Mr. McGeough has written an objective record, though it is in need of more discretion in certain detailed dialogue. Cutting vulgarity from a manuscript does not in any way cheapen an author's work, it rather increases an author's respectability, sensitivity, and trustworthiness.
Chela---means-student More than 1 year ago
This is the best book on the Israeli-Palestinian situation that I have ever read (and I've read many of them). The author focuses on the history of Hamas, and tells it in a way that clarifies the role of all nations/factions in the region (Israel, the PLO, Fatah, the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, and others). We're introduced to the leaders of these entities, as well as to U.S. presidents, and shown how they have driven the ongoing drama in the region. The author is an Australian journalist who has been studying the region for decades, and has met and interviewed all the players. The result is an objective, compelling page-turner. I cannot recommend it more highly. I bought the book simply to learn about Hamas, but I now find myself with a much greater understanding of the entire region.