'Irish' trio accused of being part of Mid-East hit squad
An 11-member European hit squad, including a woman and two men allegedly carrying Irish passports, was behind the mysterious killing of a Hamas commander in his hotel room last month, police in Dubai claimed yesterday.
Hamas military official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was found dead in a luxury Dubai hotel and the Palestinian militant group has accused Israel's Mossad secret service of carrying out the killing.
It has pledged to avenge the mysterious killing.
Dubai police released the names and photos of the alleged gang members, along with their nationalities. The 11 identified suspects include Irish, British, German and French passport holders.
The three allegedly carrying Irish passports were named as Gail Folliard, Evan Dennings and Kevin Daveron.
It is believed that a request has been placed with Interpol for arrest warrants for the alleged gang who were disguised in wigs, fake beards and tennis clothes.
"We do not rule out Mossad, but when we arrest those suspects we will know who masterminded it," said Dubai police chief Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim.
Israel has refused to comment but a security source there has said Mabhouh played a key role in smuggling Iranian-funded arms to militants in the Gaza Strip.
Lt Gen Tamim said it was possible that "leaders of certain countries gave orders to their intelligence agents to kill" Mabhouh.
A Dubai government source said six other people, not yet identified, were also suspected of involvement. Mabhouh, one of the founders of Hamas's military wing, was found dead in a Dubai luxury hotel on January 20.
He had engineered the capture of two Israeli soldiers during the Palestinian uprising in the 1980s. The soldiers were later killed.
Lt Gen Tamim said the team comprised three Irish passport holders, six British and one each from France and Germany.
Last night a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said they were aware of the allegations.
"Our embassy in Abu Dhabi is the touch with the Emirates authorities on a daily basis but we have received no official confirmation that any Irish nationals were involved," the spokesman said.
Forensic tests indicate Mabhouh died of suffocation, but lab analyses are still under way to pinpoint possible other factors in his death.
Top Hamas figures have denied reports that he was en route to Iran, which is a major Hamas backer. But the group has not given clear reasons for his presence in Dubai.
A highly organised operation ahead of the killing has been sketched by authorities. A news conference yesterday saw surveillance video of the alleged assassination team arriving on separate flights to Dubai the day before Mabhouh was found dead. The suspects checked into separate hotels.
They paid for all expenses in cash and used different mobile phone cards to avoid traces, he added.
At least two suspected members of the hit squad watched Mabhouh check in at his hotel and later booked a room across from the Hamas commander, Lt Gen Tamim said.
The killing took place about five hours after he arrived at the hotel and all 11 suspects were out of the United Arab Emirates within 19 hours of their arrivals.