What do have Jamal Khashoggi and Dawn Sturgess have in common? They are both victims of ill-conceived and idiotically-conducted assassinations.

Khashoggi, of course, is the Saudi dissident who is believed to have been killed last week during a Saudi GID intelligence service attempt to kidnap him from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Sturgess is the British citizen who was killed in July when she sprayed a perfume bottle on herself, unaware that it contained a highly toxic nerve agent that had been used in an attempt to kill a former British intelligence agent, Sergei Skripal, in March. The blame for Sturgess' death lies squarely with Russia's GRU intelligence service.

What ties both Khashoggi and Sturgess together is the capricious stupidity of the intelligence operations that killed them. And that begs a question: Why didn't the GID and GRU kill their targets in a way that mitigated the risk of detection?

The first issue here is that the assassinations were even carried out in the first place. That's because in both cases, the risks of diplomatic fallout were far greater than the rational benefits. While it seems that the Saudis may have simply intended to kidnap Khashoggi, in dealing with an elderly man, any intelligence operative of basic training would have realized the risk of complications. But just as with Vladimir Putin's personal desire to kill the perceived traitor Sergei Skripal, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wanted Khashoggi dealt with at any price. That ego-motivation behind covert action was the GRU and GID's first mistake. Their second mistake was in employing callous means to carrying out the attacks.

The Saudi mistake was grievous: They used a large team to target one man on the soil of a foreign power that has an interest in and capability towards detecting Saudi intelligence operations. Correspondingly, the GID were always likely to attract the attention of Turkey's MiT intelligence service. The MiT doesn't particularly like their Saudi counterparts and is very well-resourced in monitoring them. Evidencing as much, it seems very likely that the Saudi team were detected discussing what they had done and in extricating themselves from Turkish soil. This has left the Saudis in the diplomatic quagmire that they are ill-disposed to dealing with — hence, the absurd excuses being given out by Saudi ambassadors.

The Russians' mistake was not so much their choice of personnel — using two GRU officers otherwise unknown to British authorities was sensible — but in ordering those officers to use a nerve agent. That choice risked the collateral damage as suffered by Sturgess and ensuing the U.K. government's fury. But it also entailed a major risk of diplomatic calamity had the two officers been detained in possession of the nerve agent. Most important of all, the Russians failed to anticipate that the British would publicize what they had done.

Working with its partners, the British used a variety of not-so-complicated means to identify the GRU's culpability (I am led to believe that the British have unreleased CCTV video of the assassins conducting countersurveillance techniques) and then released evidence to that effect. And while the Russians don't particularly care about the British knowing they are to blame — they actually find it quite funny, hence the predictable Kremlin claims that their assassins were actually tourists — they did not expect to see the widespread global diplomatic expulsions that followed. And in that failure of expectation, their arrogance above and beyond the needs of the mission has shone forth.

Yet, the operative point here is that, the obvious moral issues aside, neither the GID or the GRU needed to do what they did. Instead, they could have simply followed the Israeli intelligence handbook of using exceptional operational security to effect a seemingly accidental death such as a heart attack or a traffic accident. Or they could have used the MiT assassination preference and simply shot their targets dead. That would have made investigations more difficult and their deniability far more plausible.

Instead, their egos made themselves vulnerable to breaking the number one rule of intelligence operations — not getting caught.