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Monday, February 1, 2010
Dubai police say Mossad may have killed Hamas chief
DUBAI (AFP) – The police chief of Dubai said on Sunday Israel's spy agency Mossad or others with a vested interest could have killed a top militant of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in a Dubai hotel room.
“It could be Mossad, or another party,” police chief Dhahi Khalfan told AFP.
“Personally, I don't exclude any possibility. I don't exclude any party that has an interest in the assassination” of Mahmoud al-Mabhuh, Khalfan said.
“There were seven or more people holding passports from different European countries” in the group suspected of killing Mabhuh, he said.
He refused to name the countries, but added, “we are currently in contact with these European countries to verify the authenticity of the passports.”
The Islamic resistance movement Hamas on Friday accused Israel of killing Mabhuh, who was found dead in his hotel room in Dubai on January 20, and vowed revenge.
Hamas has acknowledged that Mabhuh was in Dubai to buy weapons for Hamas in its struggle against Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.
Mabhuh, born in Jabaliya in northern Gaza, was behind the capture of two Israeli soldiers, Avi Sasportas and Ilan Sadon, in separate operations in 1989.
Khalfan said that “it seems (Mabhuh) opened the door” of his room, letting his killers in. “Mabhuh was suffocated,” he said, adding that “strangulation is possible.”
According to Khalfan, Mabhuh entered the United Arab Emirates (UAE) a day before his death using a passport that did not bear his family name.
“We were not informed by Hamas about the visit,” he said. “It is strange that a person of his importance traveled alone.”
Khalfan met Palestinian consul general Hussein Abdul Khaliq in Dubai on Sunday to discuss the murder, saying police would “work day and night” to track down the suspects, the official WAM news agency reported.
On Sunday, The Times of London cited unidentified Middle Eastern sources as saying Mabhuh's body was found by staff at the luxury Al Bustan Rotana hotel.
It said Mabhuh was traveling on a false passport and on arrival in Dubai was followed by two men described by local police as “Europeans carrying European passports.”
The hit squad injected Mabhuh with a drug that induced a heart attack, photographed all the documents in his briefcase, and left a “do not disturb” sign on the door, The Times said.
A founder of Hamas' military wing, Mabhuh was in charge of arms purchases for the group.
Over the years, a number of Hamas leaders have died in what Israel calls “targeted killings.”
In 2004, Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was killed in an Israeli helicopter gunship attack in Gaza. One month later, another Hamas leader in Gaza, Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi, was killed when two missiles hit his car.
Israel has also targeted Palestinian leaders outside the country and the occupied territories.
In 1997, Israeli agents tried to poison Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Amman, while in 1995, Mossad succeeded in killing Islamic Jihad chief Fathi Shiqaqi in Malta.
In 1988, Israeli commandos killed Abu Jihad, Yasser Arafat's right-hand man, in Tunis.
And in 1973, commandos -- among them future prime minister and current defense minister Ehud Barak -- killed three Palestine Liberation Organization leaders in Beirut.
Dubai, a rich and glitzy city-state in the UAE federation, has exposed its murkier side with several high-profile murders in recent years.
Sulim Yamadayev, a bitter foe of pro-Russia Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, was shot dead there in March 2009.
In January 2003, Dubai-based businessman Sharad Shetty, suspected to be a close associate of Indian underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, was shot in a gangland-style killing at Dubai's India Club.
Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim was found dead in her Dubai home in July 2008. She had been stabbed and her face was mutilated.
Dubai police chief Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim.