DUBAI: Police chief says alleged Mossad agents left DNA, fingerprints as Mabhouh hit continues to rivet [Updated]
The plot just keeps thickening.
Now Dubai's police chief tells Al Arabiya news channel that authorities in the United Arab Emirates city-state had gathered DNA evidence and fingerprints left by some of those allegedly involved in the killing of senior Hamas figure Mahmoud Mabhouh.
Police chief Dhahi Khalfan Tamim told Al Arabiya that police had collected DNA samples from at least one person and fingerprints of several others believed to have been involved in the Jan. 19 killing.
"We have DNA evidence ... from the crime scene," the police chief said in the television interview Friday evening. "The DNA of the criminals is there."
[Updated, Feb. 27, 2:30 a.m. PST: In an interview published Saturday morning Tamim taunted Israeli Mossad chief Meir Daganm urging him to admit Israel was behind Mabhouh's assassination. "Do not be a coward and admit the crime of killing Mabhouh," he told the Arabic-language Emirati newspaper Dar al-Khaleej.]
[Updated, Feb. 27, 6:30 a.m. PST: The Independent of London is reporting that a team of British investigators has arrived in Israel to investigate the alleged identity theft of 12 Britons living in the Jewish state whose passports have been connected to the Mabhouh slaying.]
[Updated, Feb. 27, 2:30 p.m. PST: Former CIA agent and author Bob Baer describes alleged Mossad hit as a long-term error. "It's looking more and more like Mr. Mabhouh's assassination was a serious policy failure," he writes in Saturday's Wall Street Journal.]
Tamim said authorities had collected "categorical DNA proof on one of the assassins" and lifted fingerprints of several suspects from the crime scene.
Tamim had alleged earlier that he was "99%, if not 100%" certain that the Israeli secret service Mossad was behind the killings. Israel has insisted that no evidence links it to the crime, though at least half of the 26 identities used by the alleged killers to enter Dubai last month belonged to Israeli nationals who have said their identities had been stolen.
The case of Mabhouh's killing continues to reverberate around the world. The killers allegedly used phony passports from Britain, Ireland, France, Germany and Australia, phone services from Austria and credit cards from the United States.
The case has strained relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, and deepened Arab hostility toward the Jewish state.
Tamim told the Arabic-language Dubai newspaper Bayan on Friday that Emirates officials were teaming up with officials from Europe, Australia and possibly the U.S. to launch an international investigation of the killing, according to Al Arabiya.
"We will work via European and Australian diplomatic channels -- and perhaps American -- to set up a working team formed from the Emirates police force and those of at least seven other states to track down the gang responsible for the assassination," the state-owned paper quoted Tamim as saying.
Meanwhile, across the Middle East, the killing continued to stir controversy and questions. "While suspects in the Mabhouh killing are chased to the four corners of the world, Mabhouh, a self-confessed killer, did not appear on Interpol's list and traveled freely," Israel's Jerusalem Post opined.
"Fuzzy moral relativism is ravaging Europe and reversing long-accepted notions of truth and falsehood," it continued. "Muslim terrorism is rationalized as a legitimate act of self-defense, while Israel is demonized and disparaged for its attempt to root itself in a particular history, language, legal system, cultural tradition and religious heritage."
Meanwhile, the pressure mounts on Western countries to show they were not complicit in the killing.
"There is concrete evidence that the gangs of the Mossad equipped with European tools stand behind the Mabhouh killing," Jordan's Al Rai daily newspaper said. "The attitude of the European countries towards the Mabhouh killing at the hands of the Israeli Mossad was not surprising to us. We should not also be surprised at the level of hidden coordination between Israel and these European countries."
-- Borzou Daragahi in Beirut
Photo: Palestinians with Hamas and other groups carry pictures of slain Palestinian Mahmoud Mabhouh as they call for vengeance in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh near the southern port city of Sidon, Lebanon. Credit: Mohammed Zaatari / Associated Press