Dubai Hamas assassination: suspects used fake passports
Members of a suspected hit squad blamed for the assassination of a Hamas commander in Dubai used fake British and Irish passports, it has emerged.
Police in Dubai released details of 11 people they believe were involved in killing Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, all of whom were travelling on European documents.
But the Foreign Office in London said the six British passports were "fraudulent".
In addition, officials in Dublin said they had "issued no passports" in the names of the three people using Irish identities.
Dubai police chief Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim said yesterday the hit squad was behind the murder of al-Mabhouh, a founder member of Hamas's military wing, in a hotel last month.
The Irish government says the trio of alleged passport-holders identified on Monday in Dubai as Gail Folliard, Evan Dennings and Kevin Daveron do not appear in Ireland's records of legitimate passport-holders.
"We are unable to identify any of those three individuals as being genuine Irish citizens. Ireland has issued no passports in those names," the department said in a statement to The Associated Press.
The Irish government says the passport numbers publicised by Dubai authorities also are counterfeits, because they have the wrong number of digits and contain no letters.
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior figure in the military wing of Hamas, was found dead in a hotel room on Jan 20. According to one report he was killed by a female assassin who entered his room by posing as a member of hotel staff, injected him with a drug that induced a heart attack and hung a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.
But other officers said he was strangled, probably after receiving an electric shock.
Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, blamed Israel’s Mossad intelligence service for the killing.
But video footage and a series of passport photographs released by the Dubai police suggested a much more convoluted and bizarre operation than is normally associated with Mossad, which has a reputation for ruthless professionalism.
Gen Dahi Tamim, Dubai’s police chief displayed a series of passport photographs showing 10 men and a woman at a press conference.
Most of the individuals appeared to be of Middle Eastern origin, even thought they carried passports with European-sounding names.
As well as the three with Irish passports, six carried British passports, while the other two had French and German documents.
The Britons were named as James Leonard Clarke, Stephen Daniel Hodes, Paul John Keeley, Michael Lawrence Barney, Jonathan Lewis Graham, Melvyn Adam Milliner.
Gen Tamim also released CCTV footage that showed the woman wearing a wig and sporting a large hat and sunglasses in an apparent attempt to blend in with tourists.
Other suspects were wearing tennis clothes and false beards and carried tennis rackets. They were shown entering and exiting the al-Bustan Rotana hotel, where the victim stayed. Four of the group are then shown using an electronic device to open the door of a hotel room.
Despite appearances to the contrary, Gen Tamim said the operation was highly professional. None of the suspects was in Dubai for more than 19 hours, while Mr Mabhouh was killed just five hours after he arrived in the Gulf state.
Beyond saying it was possible that '“leaders of certain countries gave orders to their intelligence agents”, Gen Tamim made no direct accusation against Israel, which has declined to comment.
He said: “We do not rule out Mossad, but when we arrest those suspects we will know who the mastermind is.”
Although he hinted that the suspects may have used stolen passports, the police chief called on Britain to co-operate with the investigation.