DUBAI: Police release photos of 11 wanted for Hamas killing, hint at Israel involvement [Updated]
Dubai police have released the names and passport photos from the European identity papers of 11 suspects in the killing of a senior Hamas official last month.
According to a report Monday on the website of Al Jazeera International, Dubai police also said two Palestinians had been arrested in the Jan. 20 murder of Mahmoud Mabhouh, a senior figure within the militant group Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip.
But passports can be forged, especially if you've got the backing of a government, and Police Chief Dhafi Khalfan Tamim repeated his earlier calls that Israeli intelligence may have been involved in the killing
"Israel carries out a lot of assassinations in many countries, even in countries that it is allied to," Khalfan told reporters in Dubai, one of seven states that make up the United Arab Emirates.
[Updated 1:25 p.m. PST: Babylon & Beyond reader Saeed sent us a link to a fascinating video clip showing closed-caption footage of the murder suspects, below.]
Experts say even Al Qaeda considers the carefree Dubai off-limits to the limits to the kind of bloody, no-holds-barred political violence that characterizes other parts of the Middle East.
So it's not clear why Israel would risk relations with the U.A.E., a staunch U.S. ally and potential friend in any fight against Iran, by carrying out an attack against a relatively obscure figure on its soil.
But even the whiff of Israeli involvement in the killing could further chill relations between Israel and the U.A.E., which does not recognize the Jewish state, and the rest of the Gulf states.Tamim told the Abu Dhabi-based The National that authorities would be prepared to order the arrest of any ranking Israeli official if Israel was involved in the killing.
“Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, will be the first to be wanted for justice as he would have been the one who signed the decision to assassinate Mabhouh in Dubai," he said. "We will issue an arrest warrant against him."
Israeli officials have not publicly commented on the death of Mabhouh, who was born in the Gaza Strip but was living in Syria and was allegedly responsible for the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers. Israelis have said Mabhouh was involved in smuggling arms for Hamas
The police chief said the 11 operated out of the room across a hotel corridor from Mabhouh, who had traveled to the Persian Gulf emirate on a passport bearing a false identity. The suspects used British, Irish, German and French passports.
It's not clear how Mabhouh was killed, whether he was suffocated, electrocuted, poisoned or strangled, according to a separate report in The National.
-- Borzou Daragahi in Beirut
Photo: Dubai police handout of European passport photos of those allegedly involved in killing a Hamas figure last month. Credit: EPA
Video: A Dubai television news report about the murder investigation. Credit: YouTube.