Plot gets thicker as British names traced in Israel

Kt Archives (Staff Report)
Filed on February 21, 2010

The Al Mabhouh affair gets curiouser. In the latest twist, Britain’s embassy in the Israeli capital of Tel Aviv is reported to have tracked down six of its citizens in Israel.

The murder in Dubai of Hamas commander Mahmoud Al Mabhouh on January 20 turned into an international incident after sleuths here strung together irrefutable evidence: 11 suspects were named, six of them British, and their photographs flashed on the Interpol website.

“We have invited the nationals to come to the consular section in Tel Aviv to get new passports in place of the ones that Dubai Police publicised with their identities,” a Reuters report quotes embassy spokesman Raffi Shamir as saying. “This will reduce the risk that they may be inadvertently detained.”

Earlier, it was stated the passport details furnished were inaccurate. Reports quoting Shamir now acknowledge the passport number and names of the British citizens correspond, but the photographs and signatures are said to vary.

The Dubai Police chief, Lieutenant-General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, has chosen not to unconditionally single out any party for culpability in the murder. He has merely let the evidence speak for itself.

And he insists there is more where that came from. He told Dubai TV on Thursday he had more evidence, equally clinching, to be revealed at the appropriate time. He has also called for the creation of a multinational investigation team.

Meanwhile, Israeli intelligence service Mossad, which has built for itself the dubious reputation of being mistake-free in its covert operations abroad, is being castigated by the country’s own media for having been check-mated by Dubai Police.

Official Israeli silence continues, even as several countries have joined forces to corner Israel on the basis of graphically incriminating evidence furnished by Dubai Police, yet the Israeli media is anything but silent.

In fact, even pro-government papers there have been unsparing. “What began as a heart attack turned out to be an assassination, which led to a probe, which turned into the current passport affair,” Yoav Limor wrote in Hayom. “It is doubtful whether this is the end of the affair.”

Indeed, it is not. Sophisticated surveillance systems installed to protect Dubai as a business and tourist destination might prove the undoing of this operation.

The evidence has already made Britain, Ireland, France and Germany angry with Israel over the passports issue. Now Austria and the US jump into the investigations in the matter of phones and credit cards used.

“Even if whoever carried out the assassination does reach some kind of an arrangement with infuriated Western nations,” wrote Amir Oren of Israel’s Haaretz daily, “it (Israel) still has an obligation to its own citizens.”

Predicting a flap with Britain, Ireland, France and Germany, he called for the scalp of Mossad chief Meir Dagan.

Similar voices were heard when Mossad botched a plot to poison Palestinian leader Khaled Meshaal in Jordan in 1997. It caused the then Mossad director to “fall on his sword”. However, analysts doubt if that will play out this time round.

This is not a first for Dubai Police in crimes with international ramifications.

After Lebanese starlet Suzanne Tamim was found stabbed in her flat in 2008, they secured the conviction of Egyptian businessman Talaat Mustapha and an accomplice by following a credit card trail. Both are now on death row.

And surveillance cameras led to the arrest of two suspects — an Iranian and a Tajik — currently in custody awaiting trial for the March 2009 murder of former Chechen rebel leader Sulim Yamadayev.

Indeed, crimes have got more sophisticated, but these instances indicate Dubai knows how to police its precincts.


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