'Hit squad' used fake Irish passports
Published 16/02/2010 | 14:56
At least three members of a suspected hit squad blamed for the assassination of a Hamas commander in Dubai were using fake passports, it emerged today.
Police in Dubai released details yesterday of 11 people they believe were involved in killing Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, including six British passport holders and three Irish passport holders.
But the Department of Foreign Affairs said today in a statement: "We are unable to identify any of those three individuals as being genuine Irish citizens. Ireland has issued no passports in those names."
Dubai police chief Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim said yesterday an 11-strong hit squad using European passports was behind the murder of al-Mabhouh, a founder member of Hamas's military wing, in a hotel last month.
The police chief also released the names and photos of the alleged gang, along with their apparent nationalities according to the passports.
It prompted a flurry of activity in London and Dublin as officials sought to clarify if nationals from the two countries were involved.
The British Government has yet to comment on the validity of the passports other than to say that it was "seeking further information".
But officials in Dublin cast serious doubts that the group were travelling with bona fide documents.
They said they had no record of passports being issued under the "Irish" names released yesterday in Dubai - Gail Folliard, Evan Dennings and Kevin Daveron.
Furthermore, the government said the passport numbers publicised by the Dubai authorities appeared to be counterfeits, as they have the wrong number of digits and contain no letters.
Al-Mabhouh died in his luxury hotel room near Dubai international airport on January 20. It is claimed he was suffocated.
Hamas has pointed the finger at Israel, blaming Mossad - the country's secret service - for carrying out the hit.
Lt Gen Tamim did not go as far as directly blaming Israel, but said it was possible that "leaders of certain countries gave orders to their intelligence agents to kill" the Hamas man.
It is alleged that the hit squad flew into Dubai on separate planes and booked into different hotels wearing wigs and fake beards to disguise their appearances.
At least two of the alleged gang watched the Hamas commander check in to the hotel and booked a nearby room, it was further claimed.
Around five hours after setting foot in the city state, al-Mabhouh was ambushed and killed. It is not known if he opened the door to his alleged killers himself.
All of the suspects left the United Arab Emirates within 19 hours of their arrivals, it was claimed. All but two of the alleged gang travelled on British and Irish documents. Dubai also released details of suspects with French and German passports.
Hamas officials have so far failed to state why their commander was in Dubai amid suggestions that he was on his way to Iran.
In a statement released last month, the militant group acknowledged that al-Mabhouh was involved in the kidnapping and killing of two Israeli soldiers in 1989, adding that, until his death, he had played a "continuous role in supporting his brothers in the resistence inside the occupied homeland".