Dubai assassination puts tough-talking cop Dahi Khalfan Tamim in spotlight
The expanding investigation into the Dubai assassination of a Hamas official – with Britain alleging this week that Israel forged passports used by the alleged killers – has drawn attention to the methods and style of Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai's longest-serving police chief.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
As the investigation into the Dubai assassination of a Hamas official expands abroad and pushes Israel further on the back foot, the man who set it in motion, Dubai’s outspoken police chief, has gone surprisingly quiet.Skip to next paragraph
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He made no comment Tuesday after Britain offered the first outside confirmation of his claim that Israel was involved in the Jan. 19 killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Foreign Secretary David Miliband accused Israel of forging British passports used by the hit-squad suspects and expelled an Israeli diplomat in response.
The silence marks a change for Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim, the stern police chief with thick-rimmed glasses who seized the spotlight as it swung toward him over the assassination. He stretched 15 minutes of fame into weeks of international headlines, holding press audiences with impressive evidence and insulting zingers at Israel. “Even the disguise was primitive,” he told reporters. “If they want a training course in disguise, we would be happy to oblige.”
Tamim is famous here in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a rare government official who speaks freely. Emiratis say he's earned the clout to say what he likes by being good at his job, which he has held since 1980, longer than all of his predecessors combined.
Why the chief is holding his tongue now remains unclear. Did he grow too feisty and get silenced by the UAE's ruling families? Is it all part of the plan? In either case, the latest development from Britain furthers both of his apparent goals: to continue the investigation and to keep the heat on Israel.
A serious cop
The Mabhouh murder is not the first high-profile case that Tamim has overseen. In 2007, he nabbed members of the Pink Panthers international crime gang after they rammed their cars into a mall and sped off with $4 million worth of jewelry. Tamim vowed to identify the thieves within a week – drawing skepticism – and did. Three suspects were soon arrested. Others were later caught in Europe with the help of Interpol and other agencies.
Locals felt so proud at the time that they created a Facebook fan page for “Dubai’s one of a kind” police commander.
“I didn’t think it could happen, he did it and well this is in honour of the Chief and his force,” the creator of the webpage wrote in a post.
Tamim’s reputation soared again after he unraveled two prominent murders, one a famous Lebanese pop singer in 2008 and another, a Chechen dissident a year later.