More Irish passports linked to killing

 

The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed to The Irish Times a further two Irish passport numbers have been linked to suspects in the assassination of a senior Hamas operative in Dubai last month.

A spokesman for the Department said the latest information came from authorities in Dubai and confirmed that efforts are under way to contact the passport owners.

He stressed that the numbers cited by the Dubai authorities do not correspond to the identities of the genuine owners of the passports.

The latest development brings to five the number of passport numbers identified in the investigation into the assassination of the Hamas commander.

The spokesman also confirmed that the three Irish citizens whose passport numbers were on forged papers used by the hit squad that killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai have now been contacted.

Interpol has placed the 11 suspects originally linked to the assassination on its international wanted list. The international police agency published photographs of the suspects on its website today and has issued "red notices" for the 11.

A red notice is served once a request has been lodged by a country's law enforcement authority - in this case Dubai, with Interpol. The request asks for a red notice to be issued when a criminal evades arrest and is believed to have left the country.

The agency said the red notices issued for the 11 specify the names used on the passports "were aliases used to commit murder".

It said it had made the photos and the names fraudulently used on the passports public to limit the ability of suspects from travelling freely using the same false passports.

The assassination gang that killed senior Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was comprised of six British passport holders; three Irish; and the holders of a German and a French passport, Lieut Gen Dhahi Khalfan Tamim revealed at a press conference earlier this week.

In comments to be aired later today on Dubai TV, police chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim called for Interpol to issue a warrant to help locate and arrest the head of Israel's spy agency Mossad if the organisation is found to be responsible for the killing.

The comments were made as Israel stuck to a policy of "ambiguity" on operations by its Mossad spy agency.

Meanwhile, authorities in Dublin, London and Paris all demanded explanations from Israel on why passport details of their citizens had been used by the suspected hit squad.

The Israeli ambassador to Ireland attended talks at the Department of Foreign Affairs today following the revelation that three members of the team allegedly responsible for the assassination of the senior Hamas operative used legitimate passport numbers belonging to three Irish citizens.

Following today's meeting, Dr Zion Evrony said he was under no obligation to address the international incident in public.

Dr Evrony had been summoned to the Department to explain why three genuine Irish passport numbers were on forged papers used by the hit squad which killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. It is not known if he was asked about the two Irish passport numbers subsequently identified in the investigation.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said yesterday that additional information provided by the authorities in the United Arab Emirates to the Irish Ambassador, Ciarán Madden, confirms that the passports used were fraudulent.

The identities of the people recorded on the forged passports do not correspond to those recorded on the valid passports carrying the same numbers.