x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

More suspects identified in al Mabhouh killing

As many as five more suspects had been identified by Dubai Police, bringing the total alleged to have been involved in the operation to 32.

Mahmoud al Mabhouh is followed out of a lift by two alleged Mossad agents.
Mahmoud al Mabhouh is followed out of a lift by two alleged Mossad agents.

ABU DHABI // At least one additional fake passport was used in the assassination of the Hamas commander Mahmoud al Mabhouh in Dubai in January, a senior diplomatic source confirmed yesterday. A US press report said as many as five more suspects had been identified by Dubai Police, bringing the total alleged to have been involved in the operation to 32. The suspects were travelling on Australian, British and French passports, according to the report.

Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim, the chief of Dubai Police, declined to comment on the report yesterday. The additional suspects would mean at least five French and Australian passports each had been compromised, as well as at least 13 British. Both Dubai Police and the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency have linked the assassination of the Hamas military leader in his hotel room to Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency.

Police linked the first 27 suspects, who entered the country in separate teams, with a core group suspected to be responsible for the killing itself, through CCTV footage, immigration records, DNA analysis, witness interviews and hotel, phone, transport and credit-card records. Most of the compromised passports bore the names of Israeli residents. It is not clear whether the additional suspects were only involved in surveillance, or were in the country for the operational stage of the hit.

The misuse of other nations' documents for the assassination has had serious diplomatic repercussions for Israel, which has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility. Britain expelled a Mossad representative from the Israeli embassy in London and is reportedly blocking the official's return until Israel gives a formal guarantee that its passports will not be misused in future. A representative of the British Foreign Office said officials were "investigating the report". The French Embassy said it could not comment on an "ongoing judicial inquiry", and the Australian Embassy also declined to comment.


lmorris@thenational.ae * With reporting from Marten Youssef and Wafa Issa