Israel on Friday dismissed calls by Dubai police chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim for the head of Mossad to be arrested if the spy agency is implicated in the murder of a Hamas commander last month.
Israel on Friday dismissed calls by Dubai’s police chief for the head of Mossad to be arrested if the spy agency is implicated in the murder of a Hamas commander last month, saying the threat was “absurd”.
Dubai police chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim said on Thursday that Meir Dagan, the head of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, should be arrested if Mossad is implicated in the murder of Hamas military commander Mahmud al-Mabhuh, who was found dead in his Dubai hotel room on Jan. 20. Tamim has said that he is “99 percent” certain that Israeli intelligence was behind the assassination.
“The threats against Meir Dagan are absurd,” a senior Israeli official told AFP, asking not to be identified. “The Dubai police have provided no incriminating proof,” he added.
The murder is suspected as being the work of a hit squad targeting the Hamas leader who used fake Western passports to travel to Dubai. The modus operandi of Mabhuh’s assassination has led to widespread speculation that Israeli intelligence may have been behind the killing as Mossad is known to have used Western passports in past operations. Canada vehemently protested after Canadian passports were used in the organisation’s botched 1997 attempt to poison Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal in Amman, Jordan.
But Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said that there was no evidence pointing to Israel’s involvement. "There is no reason to think that it was the Israeli Mossad, and not some other intelligence service or country up to some mischief," Lieberman told Israel’s Army Radio on Wednesday.
Israel usually neither confirms nor denies speculation about Mossad activities.
Security cameras installed throughout the Al Bustan Rotana hotel in Dubai caught the alleged suspects on videotape in scenes replayed by television stations around the world. Some scenes show Mabhuh leaving an elevator and making his way toward his room, apparently trailed by two men in sports clothes and carrying tennis rackets who Dubai says are two of the suspected killers.
Mabhuh, who helped found Hamas’ military wing, had admitted to involvement in the 1989 kidnapping and killing of two Israeli soldiers, Ilan Saadon and Avi Sasportas, in separate incidents. Israel also suspects him of smuggling Iranian arms into Gaza.
Pressure on Israel grows
Pressure has been mounting on the Israel government to provide answers since Dubai’s police chief released the names and photos on Monday of 11 European passport holders – six from Britain, three from Ireland, one from Germany and one from France – who he alleged were members of a hit squad targeting Mabhuh.
Interpol issued an arrest warrant on Thursday for the 10 men and one woman suspected in the assassination.
Selected surveillance footage from the Al Bustan Rotana hotel
Dubai police believe these are the 11 suspects in Mahmud al-Mabhuh’s murder. Six of the alleged killers held passports from Britain, three from Ireland, one from France and one from Germany. Interpol issued arrest warrants for the 10 men and one woman on Feb. 18.
Mahmud al-Mabhuh helped found Hamas’ military wing and has admitted involvement in the 1989 kidnapping and murder of two Israeli soldiers. Israel suspects him of smuggling Iranian arms into Gaza and of being a key link between Hamas, Hezbollah in south Lebanon and Iran.
At 3:25 pm on Jan. 19, Hamas military commander Mahmud al-Mabhuh (circled, dressed in white) arrives at the front desk of the Al Bustan Rotana hotel to check in. Dubai police believe that two of the other men in this frame are trailing the victim.
As Mabhuh is escorted to room number 230, two men in sports clothes and carrying tennis rackets are close behind.
Trailing the victim
Dubai police believe the two men followed the victim to ascertain his room number. They later booked the room across the hall.
Police say Mabhuh left the hotel for several hours, during which he was tracked by a series of intelligence teams. Police believe he returned to his room at 8:25 pm and was killed shortly afterwards, although his body was not found until the next morning.
Leaving the scene
Investigators believe this frame shows the suspects leaving the scene of the crime at 8:46 pm. Forensic teams said that Mabhuh had received electric shocks and may have been suffocated.
The spy chief
Dubai police chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim has said he is "99 percent, if not 100 percent" certain that Israeli intelligence agency Mossad is behind Mabhuh’s murder. He has called for the arrest of Mossad chief Meir Dagan (pictured) if Mossad is implicated.
One of the suspects used a French passport in the name of Peter Elvinger. France's Foreign Ministry said it is deeply concerned about the "malicious and fraudulent use" of French travel documents.
France, Germany, British and Irish are now calling for Israel to answer questions on the suspects’ use of European passports and have called their top Israeli envoys in for talks on the matter. European officials expressed concern that the potential misuse of travel documents placed their nationals in danger.
“[The] government takes grave exception to the forgery and misuse of Irish passports, which could devalue the standing of the passports and potentially put at risk the safety of Irish citizens,” the Irish Foreign Ministry said in a statement after officials met with Israeli Ambassador Zion Evrony.
A statement on Thursday from the French Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, read: “We are asking the Israeli embassy in France for an explanation regarding the use of a false French passport in connection with the assassination”.
Shortly after Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor met with the head of the British diplomatic service, Peter Ricketts, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he expected Israel to “cooperate fully” with the separate investigation that Britain has launched into the incident.
"We want to get to the bottom of the issue of the fraudulent passports," Miliband said, adding: “That is the most important thing for us.”
Complicating the diplomatic quandary on Friday, however, were media reports that Britain had been informed that an Israeli intelligence operation would be using British passports. Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper quoted an unnamed Mossad operative as saying that the tip-off was not a request from permission but merely a “courtesy call” allowing British officials to be prepared in case a “situation” resulted.
The source said that the British government was not given any details and was not involved in the operation. But he indicated that Britain’s protestations at the misuse of its nationals’ passports may not be as candid as they appear.
“The British government has to be seen as going through the motions,” he told the Daily Mail.
Date created : 2010-02-19