x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Interpol called in to help murder hunt

Eleven names on notices related to Hamas leader's killing are most likely innocent people whose identities were stolen, police body says.

Hotel surveillance camera footage taken on February 16 shows a woman, who is thought to be one of the murder suspects, checking in before the assassination of Mahmoud al Mabhouh.
Hotel surveillance camera footage taken on February 16 shows a woman, who is thought to be one of the murder suspects, checking in before the assassination of Mahmoud al Mabhouh.

DUBAI // Interpol has issued red notices for the 11 suspects wanted in the killing of the Hamas leader Mahmoud al Mabhouh. The organisation, which facilitates international co-operation between police forces, said the notices made note of the fact that aliases and fake documents were used for the suspects' travels.

A red notice requests the arrest of a suspect with a view to extradition. Interpol's secretary general, Ronald Noble, said: "Based on close co-operation among our member countries and on information provided by innocent citizens, it is becoming clear that those who carefully planned and carried out the murder of Mahmoud al Mabhouh most likely used forged or fake European passports of innocent citizens whose identities were stolen.

"Since the names on the passports discovered as part of the Dubai Police's investigation are most likely the names of real and innocent people whose identities have been stolen, Interpol does not believe that we know the true identities of these wanted persons. "We have, therefore, included the names fraudulently used because if any of the persons pictured on the Interpol red notice were found in possession of fraudulently altered or counterfeit passports, then such possession would be evidence of guilt for a variety of crimes."

More suspects might be named later, as Dubai Police was investigating the involvement of others, officials said. The closed-circuit television footage released by the police on Monday showed a second, unidentified woman suspected of being part of a surveillance team involved in the killing. A police official had said six more suspects were being sought, but had not been identified. Two suspects are in police custody after being extradited from Jordan. The two Palestinian men were identified by Hamas sources as the former Fatah security officers Anwar Shheibar and Ahmad Hasnain.

Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim, the chief of Dubai Police, had earlier confirmed that two Palestinians had been extradited from Jordan but did not reveal any further details. But the 11 others would be difficult to track down, experts said, as the UAE had no biometric data on them. They were using passports of nationalities who were not required to have iris scans, said an expert source in biometrics. None of their eyes were scanned.

Although the UAE was the first country to introduce iris-scan technology in 2002, there were specific nations that were not to be scanned upon entry. "Europeans, Australians, [and citizens of] Canada and the United States generally do not get scanned," the source said. The UAE grants tourist visas upon arrival to citizens of 33 countries. Most countries on that list were not subject to an eye scan, which poses a major security challenge, the source said. Even if they had been scanned, the data would not be kept in the system, the source added.

"If your eyes are scanned, the system compares it with a database of criminals. If there is a match, then it will alert. If there is no match, your eye scan is not stored," the source said. If the killers had entered the country before, there would be no record of it. "If their eyes were scanned the first time and the data was kept on the system, it would be a whole different issue," the source added.

Lt Gen Tamim said the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad was behind the killing. "Our investigations reveal that Mossad is involved in the murder of al Mabhouh. It is 99 per cent, if not 100 per cent, that Mossad is standing behind the murder," Lt Gen Tamim said. The evidence that Dubai Police shows a clear link between the suspects and people with a close connection to Israel, according to Lt Gen Tamim. However, he declined to disclose what the evidence was.

Earlier, he said that if it was proven that Mossad was responsible for the killing of al Mabhouh, "Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, will be the first to be wanted for justice as he would have been the one who signed the decision to kill al Mabhouh in Dubai". Yesterday, Lt Gen Tamim declined to comment on whether the UAE authorities would issue an arrest warrant for Mr Netanyahu. But in an interview with Dubai TV, he called for an Interpol arrest warrant against Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad.

Al Mabhouh arrived in the UAE on January 19 at about 3.15pm and was dead within five hours, police have said. His assailants had been in the country for less than 24 hours before the killing, and left before his body was found in the Al Bustan Rotana hotel, in Al Garhoud, on January 20. Al Mabhouh, 50, was a founder of Hamas's military wing, the Ezzedeen al Qassam Brigades. He was wanted by the Israeli government in connection with the kidnappings of two Israeli soldiers in 1989.

The suspects identified by Dubai Police used six British passports, three Irish, one German and one French. The governments of those countries have said that the documents were fraudulent. The suspects were identified by Dubai Police as Peter Elvinger, said to be 49, who travelled on a French passport; Gail Folliard, Kevin Daveron and Evan Dennings, who used Irish passports; Paul John Keely, Stephan Daniel Hodes, Melvyn Adam Mildiner, Jonathan Louis Graham, James Leonard Clarke and Michael Lawrence Barney, who used British passports; and Michael Bodenheimer, who travelled on a German passport.

wissa@thenational.ae * With additional reporting from Loveday Morris and Marten Youssef