Dubai claims Irish passports used in killing of Hamas chief


THREE IRISH passport-holders, including one woman, were members of an assassination team allegedly responsible for killing a senior Hamas official in his Dubai hotel room last month, the emirate’s police chief said yesterday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said last night it had received no official confirmation of Irish involvement in the murder from the Dubai authorities.

Hamas has accused Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency of killing Mahmud al-Mabhouh on January 20th and has vowed to avenge his death.

Speculation that Irish passport- holders were involved in the killing has circulated in the Middle East since early this month but details provided by Lieut Gen Dhahi Khalfan Tamim at a press conference yesterday in Dubai were the most comprehensive yet.

The assassination gang that killed Mr Mabhouh was comprised of six British passport holders; three Irish; and the holders of a German and a French passport, Gen Tamim said.

“We have no doubts that it was 11 people holding these passports, and we regret that they used the travel documents of friendly countries,” he said, adding that the names on the passports had been passed on to Interpol to request arrest warrants.

Gen Tamim said it was possible that “leaders of certain countries gave orders to their intelligence agents to kill” Mr Mabhouh, one of the founding members of Hamas’s military wing. Israel had accused Mr Mabhouh of helping to smuggle rockets into Gaza.

Gen Tamim said the suspects left some evidence, but he did not elaborate. A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said officials from the Irish Embassy in neighbouring Abu Dhabi had been in continuous contact with Dubai authorities since media reports alleging Irish involvement first surfaced. But no official confirmation had been received so far, he said.

Gen Tamim showed reporters surveillance footage of the alleged hit team arriving in Dubai on separate flights the day before Mr Mabhouh was found dead. The suspects checked into different hotels, paid for all expenses in cash and used several SIM cards to avoid arousing suspicion or leaving traces. At least two members of the team observed Mr Mabhouh checking in at his hotel and later took a room across from his. There was “serious penetration into al-Mabhouh’s security prior to his arrival” in Dubai, he said, but it appeared he was travelling alone. “Hamas did not tell us who he was. He was walking around alone,” said Gen Tamim. “If he was such an important leader, why didn’t he have people escorting him?”

The killing occurred about five hours after Mr Mabhouh arrived at the hotel and all 11 suspects were out of the United Arab Emirates within 19 hours of their arrival, he added.