x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Australia joins passport fraud investigation

Australia will send police to Israel to investigate how Australian passports were used in the assassination of a senior Hamas figure in Dubai.

Australia will send police to Israel to investigate how Australian passports were used in an elaborate assassination plot in which a senior Hamas figure was killed in Dubai. A team from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Passport Office would travel to Israel to conduct inquiries into passport offences following the murder of Mahmud al Mabhouh. "(We) don't wish to prejudice the investigation by going into any more detail," a spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said.

"Australia expects the Israeli government, its officials and its agencies, to cooperate fully with the Australian investigation." Mabhouh, a founder of the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, was found dead in his Dubai hotel room on January 20. Police say he had been drugged then suffocated. The Australian newspaper said police will interview three Australians living in Israel - Nicole McCabe, Adam Korman and Joshua Bruce - whose passports were among the 27 foreign travel documents used by the assassins.

ASIO is also involved in the investigation, said a spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She did not say whether ASIO officers were travelling to Israel. Australia has condemned the misuse of its passports and the foreign minister Stephen Smith called Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem late last month to discuss Canberra's "gravest" concerns about the matter. The government has made contact with the three Australians concerned and is offering them support and assistance, the foreign affairs spokeswoman said.

"There is no information to suggest that the three Australian passport holders were involved in any way, other than as victims of passport or identity fraud," she added. *AFP