Dubai police said Wednesday that their Hamas assassination investigation into the killing of senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Mahbouh has kicked up 15 new suspects, bringing the total number of people alleged to have participated in the murder to 26.
On the one hand, the respected Israeli daily Haaretz reported that 10 of the new names are shared by immigrants to Israel who still hold foreign passports. Philip Carr, a British-born South African raised father of five who lives near Jerusalem, told the paper he was "shocked" that his name had apparently been used.
After an original announcement about 11 suspects earlier this month, six of their names were found to match those of British immigrants to Israel, all of whom have said they had nothing to do with the murder. The UK said the passports used in those six cases were all forgeries, and the names released today are likewise suspected to be aliases for individuals traveling on forged or stolen passports.
But muddying the waters was a statement from Dubai police on Wednesday that two of the people accused of belonging to the hit team departed by boat for Iran shortly after the murder – as unlikely a destination for a Mossad assassin as one could imagine.
Dubai, one of the two largest members of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), also said on Wednesday that there were indications from European governments that at least some of the passports used in this go around were forgeries. In addition to passports from France, Ireland, Britain, and Germany being used, three of the latest suspects traveled on Australian passports, the Dubai police said in their statement.
Only three people are in custody in connection with the assassination so far: Two Palestinians said to belong to Hamas' bitter rival Fatah are in custody in Dubai, and a Hamas official that has been detained for questioning in Damascus, Syria. Both the Dubai police and foreign analysts have said inside information was likely used in setting up the murder, since the killers seemed well appraised of Mr. Mahbouh's travel plans.
A chart the police provided to reporters on the 23 alleged assassins who traveled on the European and Australian passports appears to show there were divided into four teams: A group of eight who flew into Dubai from Zurich, Switzerland, on Jan. 18; a group of six who flew in from Rome the same day; a pair that arrived from Paris on Jan. 19; and six more who flew in from Frankfurt, Germany, on the 19th. Mahbouh was murdered in his hotel room at around 9 pm on the evening of the 19th, and his body was found by hotel staff the next morning.
All of the alleged assassins departed Dubai before 9 pm on Jan. 20, scattering on nine separate flights that eventually left them in Zurich, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris, and Bangkok before the trail went cold.
Despite Dubai issuing a statement about two of the suspects traveling by boat to Iran, the chart shows the departures and flight paths for all but one of the alleged killers. The Australian passport holder going by Adam Korman is shown as having left on an Emirate's flight to Hong Kong at 3:15 am on Jan. 20 and the Australian passport holder under the name Bruce Daniel is shown as having left on a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong at 8:40 pm on Jan. 19.
A third Australian passport holder under the name Nicole McCabe is not shown in the chart. The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear.
The below Arabic news report includes stills and recently released closed circuit footage of the new suspects.