16/02/2010

Irish Passports 'Connection' In Hamas Killing

Three Irish passports-holders have been connected to the assassination team allegedly responsible for killing a senior Hamas official in his Dubai hotel room last month, according to the Emirate's police it emerged today.

The Department of Foreign Affairs however has refused to official confirm Irish involvement in the murder of senior Hamas figure Mahmud al-Mabhouh on January 20th, which is believed to have been conducted by Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency.

Hamas' Lieut Gen Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, at a press conference yesterday in Dubai, said 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.

The Lieutenant General then showed the news conference airport surveillance video of the alleged assassination team arriving on separate flights before checking into separate hotels.

In the footage, which also included images from the hotel where al-Mabhouh was killed, the one woman among the group of suspects appears to be wearing a wig and at times wears a big hat and sunglasses. Others were seen apparently posing as tourists, wearing tennis clothes and carrying rackets.

Authorities appear to have linked the group through the videos which show them entering and exiting the hotel, standing together in the hotel lobby and going in and out of the elevator on the floor where al-Mabhouh was staying.

Police said that the killers used an electronic device to enter Mabhouh's room and lay in wait for him.

"He was strangled after receiving maybe an electric shock," Khalfan said on Monday.

Responding to the news, Fine Gael's spokesperson on foreign affairs Billy Timmins today expressed "grave concern" at the alleged use of the Irish passports in the killing.

Timmins called on the Minister for Foreign Affairs to establish the exact details of the incident without delay and to establish how Irish passports could be used in this way. Timmins went on to say that the use of stolen or falsified passports in this manner is a very worrying development.

"The figures for Irish Passports reported as lost, stolen or mislaid for 2008 and from the first of January to the fourth of December 2009 are 36,264 or 6.3% of total issued and 33,214 or 6.0% of total issued respectively, this is a staggering statistic."

Today, influential Middle-Eastern news site Al Jazeera reported that two Palestinians have been arrested over the murder in the United Arab Emirates last month and that investigators were issuing arrest warrants for the 11 suspects with European passports.

The news corporation said that the two detained Palestinians were suspected of providing logistical support to the gang.

(DW/GK)

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