It happened quickly. On a lazy Thursday afternoon, somewhere in Amman’s Tla Al Ali district, Hamas leader Khalid Mishal saw nothing more than a blur of movement as he emerged from his car only to be faced with two unknown assailants. The sound of an explosion nearby, a tussle of activity as Mishal’s driver, Abu Maher lurched at the would-be attackers, and a whirling sound in Mishal’s ear, was all it took. One of the attackers hurled a coca cola can at Abu Maher before both fled the scene, heading for a getaway car a few meters away. Mishal’s men gave chase, and in what unfolded like the typical plot of a James Bond film, the amateur assassins were eventually pinned down. Initially believed to be a failed assassination, Mishal and his men would soon discover otherwise as the Amman-based Hamas leader grew suddenly sick only several hours after the attack. He had been poisoned. Mossad’s head, David Yatom rushed to Amman hours later, as Mishal lay in a hospital bed, to tell the late King Hussein one simple fact: “We did it. He’ll die in 24 hours. We sprayed him with a chemical. There’s nothing you can do about it.”
While such a scene may be easily mistaken to be the climax of this tale, war correspondent and Australian journalist, Paul McGough cleverly weaves together a story filled with intrigue that would rival the best of modern day thriller novels. The only difference is, this tale is true. In Kill Khalid, McGeough tells not only the story of Khalid Mishal’s brush with death in 1997, but that of his life as well. From his birth in Palestine to his upbringing in Kuwait and the rapid development of his political and religious beliefs during his university years, it is perhaps somewhat significant that Mishal’s life fit within the context of its single most defining event that could have meant his demise but, instead, became his power chip, elevating him to unprecedented stature in the Middle East political game.