x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

UAE urged to pursue killers 'until the end'

The Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal has urged the UAE to pursue the killers of Mahmoud al Mabhouh "until the end".

DAMASCUS // The Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal has urged the UAE to pursue the killers of Mahmoud al Mabhouh "until the end". In response to questions from The National, Mr Meshaal praised Dubai's security services and said he hoped they would not rest until suspects had been detained, tried and suitably punished for the murder.

"The UAE and Dubai police in particular have worked very seriously on this case, they have carried out a professional investigation and have put pressure on Israel over the affair," he said on Sunday. "We call on them to follow their work to the end, however long that takes or how difficult it proves to be." Al Mabhouh, a senior Hamas figure involved in supplying militants in the Gaza Strip with weapons, was assassinated in a Dubai hotel in January. Dubai officials have said Israel's intelligence agency was behind the death.

Arrest warrants have been issued for 33 suspects, most recently for a Briton, Christopher Lockwood. Dubai police apparently believe Mr Lockwood was travelling under his own identity, not using a false one - making him the only suspect so far known by name. The others on the wanted list used forged European and Australian passports to gain entry to the UAE. To date, no arrests have been made. Mr Meshaal, who lives in exile in Syria, said Hamas wanted to assist Dubai police in the inquiry but that the offer had been declined. "Our brothers in the UAE wanted to work on this file independently, without co-ordinating with us and we cannot force them to," he said.

The Hamas leader also insisted that an internal investigation had ruled out infiltration by Israeli agents or a betrayal of al Mabhouh by other group members. Describing al Mabhouh's work as "sensitive", he said claims of weak security within Hamas were unfounded. "Our internal investigation committee has determined it is impossible that we were infiltrated. The fact is that Mahmoud al Mabhouh was hunted by Israel for 20 years and in the end the resistance fighters know that the price they pay for their struggle may be martyrdom.

"It's natural, especially for anyone who works on sensitive issues." Mr Meshaal said his own survival and that of other senior figures based in Syria, as al Mabhouh had been before his death, was proof that Hamas leadership circles had not been compromised by Israeli spies. "If there had been such an infiltration, we would not be sitting here now; we'd all be dead," he said. "There would be no need for the elaborate murder plans in Dubai."