Gardai probe use of Irish passports in Dubai killing
Published 18/02/2010 | 05:00
A GARDA investigation is under way into the use of false Irish passports by three of the alleged killers of a top Hamas official.
Two of the Irish people whose passport numbers were used by the hit squad have now been traced.
Although the Israeli secret service Mossad is the main suspect for the murder in Dubai, the Department of Foreign Affairs has so far not called in the Israeli ambassador for an explanation.
The garda inquiry is likely to try to establish how the passport numbers were acquired by the killers, whether Irish passports were stolen to order or even if computer systems at the Department of Foreign Affairs were hacked into.
Yesterday, it emerged that the numbers on the three 'Irish' passports used were genuine. However, the names on them -- Gail Folliard, Evan Dennings and Kevin Daveron -- "do not correspond to those recorded on the valid passports carrying the same numbers," according to the department.
Two of the three Irish citizens who hold or have held passports containing these numbers were contacted by the department last night. They have been living in Ireland. Efforts are being made to contact the third.
The names of these individuals have not been released. On Tuesday, a spokesman for the department said the passports were obviously fake because they contained the wrong amount of numbers and had no letters. In fact, this now appears not to be the case.
The latest revelation in the murky saga comes after a total of 11 suspects -- including three travelling on 'Irish' passports -- were named by police on Monday in Dubai, where Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was murdered in his hotel on January 20.
Yesterday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown demanded a "full investigation" into the use of faked British passports by six of those named as suspects, while German and French authorities are also promising probes.
Last night, Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin said that his department would be in contact with the authorities in London, Paris and Berlin with a view to working with them during the investigation.
"Our passport is widely respected throughout the world as being of the highest quality," said Mr Martin.
"We have invested very heavily in extra security features, so that our citizens can travel in safety. Actions which endanger our well-earned reputation in this area have the potential to affect the security of all our citizens travelling overseas.
"I am determined to maintain the good name of Irish passports. This department is liaising closely with the United Arab Emirate authorities and with the gardai on the matter."
New information, provided by the United Arab Emirates to the Irish ambassador, Ciaran Madden, yesterday confirmed that the three 'Irish' passports used were fraudulent.
However, the new information also indicated that genuine Irish passport numbers were used. These correspond to actual numbers on three legitimate Irish passports.
A spokeswoman for the department would not explain how such an issue could have arisen, but confirmed that gardai would be investigating.
The department also said the identities of the persons recorded on the forged passports did not correspond to those recorded on the valid passports with the same numbers.
Fine Gael's spokesman on foreign affairs, Billy Timmons, said Mr Martin had to raise the issue at the European Council on Monday and with the Israeli ambassador to Ireland.
"Our own Department of Foreign Affairs did not seem to realise the urgency involved in this passport fraud until Gordon Brown demanded an inquiry," he said.
The British prime minister demanded an investigation amid demands for the Israeli ambassador to be summoned to the foreign office to answer allegations that Mossad, was behind the assassination.
But Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said there was no reason to assume that Mossad had carried out the assassination of Mr Mabhouh.
"I don't know why we are assuming that Israel or the Mossad used those passports," he said in Israel's first official comments on the affair.
But he did not deny involvement. Instead, he reiterated his country's policy of ambiguity about security operations.
"Israel never responds, never confirms and never denies," he said.