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DUBAI: Police chief gives spies one week to leave Gulf region

March 12, 2010 |  8:07 am

Dubai Police Chief Lt. General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, who has denied rumors that he is under pressure from his and other Persian Gulf governments to ease up on Israel after the assassination of Mahmoud Mabhouh, hammered his point home this week when he issued a strong warning to any alleged spies lingering in the region.

"Those spies that are currently present in the Gulf must leave the region within one week -- if not, then we will cross that bridge when we come to it," Tamim told the Dubai-based English newspaper Gulf News.

When asked which nationalities in particular were under suspicion, Tamim said, "Europeans and others," but declined to get more specific. The general gave similar quotes to a number of media outlets in Dubai.

Gulf News speculated that Tamim's comments meant the identities of spies currently operating in the Emirates and other Gulf countries are known to Dubai police, who will expose them if they do not comply.

Tamim also cast doubt on the innocence of the Israeli dual citizens whose names have been linked to the crime via tampered passports, and the governments of their countries of origin.

“The readers which are used in Dubai airport are the same as those used in Europe and they indicated that the passports were authentic, which brings up the question: How can one forge a passport chip?” Tamim was quoted saying in the Abu Dhabi-based English newspaper, The National.

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Of course, Tamim's warning could also be seen as part of his ongoing campaign to keep the spotlight on his investigation into the alleged Mossad assassination of Hamas operative Mabhouh in Dubai in January.

After a run of bad press stemming from Dubai's debt crisis to the acquittal of an Abu Dhabi royal on torture charges, the Emirates have enjoyed renewed standing in the Arab world and garnered international praise for their handling of the investigation, which so far has unmasked 27 suspected Mossad agents traveling on forged passports from France, Ireland, Britain, Germany and Australia.

In an interview with Agence-France Press, Tamim accused Israel of falsifying Western passports "on a large scale," saying "we discover false passports on a daily basis."

"This is an unprecedented phenomenon for one country to forge the documents of another," he said. "[This is] usually done by criminal gangsters, not states. Dubai police will continue its investigation and will unveil in the coming weeks how the Mossad forged dozens of [European] passports."

Interpol recently announced the creation of a special international task force to investigate and track down the assassins, whose paper trail spans now the globe from Australia, home to four of the Israeli residents linked to the crime, to the United States, where two of the suspects allegedly fled after the murder.

“Evidence of these global links touching each of Interpol’s four regions worldwide makes the creation of the international task force with Interpol and interested countries whose passports were fraudulently altered essential to the investigation,” said Ronald Noble, the secretary general of Interpol.

-- Meris Lutz and Borzou Daragahi in Beirut

Video: Tamim in an interview with Al Jazeera International. Credit: YouTube. Photo: Tamim in Al Jazeera interview. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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