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DUBAI: Police say powerful drug was used to paralyze Hamas official before he was smothered [Updated]

February 28, 2010 |  7:18 am

Dubai-policedeputy Police in the United Arab Emirates city-state of Dubai say slain Hamas weapons smuggler Mahmoud Mabhouh was injected with a powerful anesthetic before he was suffocated with a pillow in his hotel room on Jan. 19.

In announcements on Sunday, the police also said they're going to identify one more suspect, another Western-passport holder, linked to the assassination, and are holding an additional Palestinian suspect.

The latest revelations bring the total number of European-passport holders connected to the assassination to 27, as well as three Palestinians. Police in Dubai have blamed the assassination on the Mossad, Israel's spy outfit, a view shared by most intelligence and security experts.

But Israel says no evidence links Mossad to the killing. At least half of the alleged killers used forged Western passports based on the identities of unwitting Israeli nationals.

[Updated, Feb. 28, 2:36 p.m. PST:  Israel may have already reaped diplomatic consequences over its alleged use of forged Western passports in the assassination of Mabhouh. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Australia changed its vote from "oppose" to "abstain" on a United Nations resolution calling on Israel and Hamas to investigate their conduct during their 2009 in the Gaza Strip. "There is no question that the debacle surrounding our passports being used in Dubai helped to make up the government's mind to abstain" on the controversial Goldstone Report, an unnamed diplomat told the newspaper.]

[Updated, March 1, 12:55 a.m. PST: Dubai media are quoting police chief Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim on Monday as saying some of Mabhouh's killers wound up in the United States after pulling off the hit. "Some of them went to America and others to Israel," he told the Gulf News. Previously disclosed details of the suspected killers' travel patterns (PDF) showed them heading to European and Asian cities.]

Dubai police Maj. Gen. Khamis Mattar Mazeina told reporters in Dubai on Sunday that Mabhouh's killers used the drug succinylcholine to sedate him before smothering him with a pillow.

Mazeina said "the assassins used this method so that it would seem that his death was natural as there were no signs of resistance shown by the victim," said an announcement on the website of the Dubai police department. 

The drug is a short-term muscle relaxer that can "cause immediate and temporary paralysis," Mazeina told reporters.

Mazeina told the Khaleej Times, a Dubai daily newspaper, the drug is almost impossible to detect after death and also was used in the killings of Palestinian activists in Kuwait in 2001.

-- Los Angeles Times

Photo: Police Maj. Gen. Khamis Mattar Mazeina. Credit: Dubai police website

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