Suspects in Mabhouh killing hiding in Israel Filed on March 2, 2010

Dubai’s police chief said on Monday he is sure that all the suspects in the killing of a Hamas chief in a hotel room of the emirate are now hiding out in Israel to avoid arrest.

Mahmud al-Mabhouh, a founder of the military wing of the Palestinian movement Hamas, was found dead in his Dubai hotel room on January 20. Police on Sunday said he had been drugged then suffocated.

“I am sure that all the suspects are in Israel,” police chief Dahi Khalfan told a media conference in Abu Dhabi.

“If they stay in Israel, they won’t be arrested, but eventually if they leave they will be arrested,” the police chief added, referring to a list of suspects passed on to Interpol.

Twelve British, six Irish, four French, three Australian and one German passports were used by 26 named suspects, according to Dubai police, who say they had fled the emirate on flights to Europe and Asia.

Police say they are convinced the Israeli spy agency Mossad carried out the Cold War-style hit.

General Khalfan said a 27th suspect had been identified, also travelling on an European passport but this time unspecified.

In Abu Dhabi, Khalfan appealed to the Western five countries whose travel documents were used to cooperate in the investigation.

“I want the states whose passports were used in the assassination to cooperate with us, and we’ll appreciate their cooperation,” the police chief said.

In many of the stolen identity cases, the documents appeared either to have been faked or obtained illegally.

The investigation has caused a diplomatic headache for the Jewish state in which the five countries whose passports were used have all called in Israeli envoys for talks.

Khalfan says the suspects would not have dared used US passports. “I think Israel was scared of provoking a clash with the United States which it considers its best friend,” Khalfan told.

Israel itself has sought to play down the row, saying there is no hard proof of its involvement. Officials in the Jewish state have refused to confirm or deny the reports, although Israeli media see the killing as the work of Mossad.

Another suspect identified in Mabhouh klling

Dubai Police are tightening the noose on the alleged killers of Mahmoud Al Mabhouh. On Sunday, police chief said another European suspect in the case had been identified.

This followed revelations earlier in the day by Lieutenant-General Dahi Khalfan Tamim'sdeputy, Major General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina that the hit team used a drug named Succinylcholine to paralyse Mabhouh before throttling him with a pillow.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Dahi said, “We are still carrying out investigations, but so far 27 Europeans and one Palestinian have been identified.”

Dahi also spoke of new measures to detect passport forgery and better training for officials to identity fraud. “Security and immigration authorities in UAE will introduce new advanced devices that can detect any forgery in European passports.’’

The police chief, however, denied plans on stricter rules for Europeans entering the UAE. “We respect the European countries unlike Israel, which has not shown any respect to those countries. We are going to keep the same visa entry procedures and visas will be granted at the airport.’’

“However, we will introduce new devices that can detect any fraud... to prevent the use of passports by criminals.’’ He said airport officials would be trained to identify the features of different nationalities, languages and accents.

He also urged EU nations to cooperate with the UAE to prevent passport fraud and theft of identities.

On Israeli involvement in the assassination of Mabhouh, Dahi said: “It goes without saying that the Israeli spy agency Mossad is involved.”

‘‘We have charted the travel routes of both the new and old suspects before and after Mabhouh’s death. Most of the names on the passports are living in Israel.”

He said Interpol still had a Red Notice against the alleged killers. “Israel, which claims to be a lawful country, should bring to justice the Israeli nationals who assassinated the Hamas leader in Dubai, or be courageous and admit that Mossad was behind the assassination.”

Al Mazeina, speaking on the modus operandi of the operatives, said the forensics department was able to reach the conclusion that Succinylcholine was used because they found traces on the skin of the victim.

Succinylcholine is a depolarising muscle relaxant. It works by keeping muscles from contracting, which causes paralysis of the muscles in the face and those used to breathe and move.

Amira Agarib

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