Dubai Police Chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim, who is leading the investigation into the Dubai Hamas assassination, told the Monitor that most of the suspects are hiding out in Israel and that two more made their way to the US after the Jan. 19 murder of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.
General Tamim also added a new suspect to the list of members of an alleged hit team traveling on Western passports that his office says was dispatched by Israel's Mossad intelligence agency (the previous total was 26). Over the weekend, the Dubai police also said they'd arrested a third Palestinian suspect. Previously, they'd said two members of Fatah, Hamas's chief rival, were in custody for allegedly helping the assassins.
Earlier on Monday, Tamim said that "all" of the suspects were in Israel, but he amended his comments later when he spoke with the Monitor to say he believes two are in the US. He did not provide the names of the two or why he's convinced of the whereabouts of any of the suspects.
In the weeks since Mr. Mabhouh, who allegedly helped smuggle arms from Iran to Gaza, was found dead in his Al Bustan Rotana Hotel room, Dubai police have described a complex assassination plot involving prior reconnaissance trips and disguises ranging from wigs to tennis outfits.
The suspects identified so far were found to have entered the United Arab Emirates using forged passports from Britain, Ireland, France, Australia, and Germany, then left within 24 hours for various cities in Europe, Asia, and South Africa. At least 15 of the 27 used names that match those of citizens living in Israel, whose Mossad spy agency the Dubai police has fingered in the assassination. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied playing any role.
Until now the only American link with the case had been the Iowa-based firm MetaBank, which issued credit cards used by 14 of the suspects. The lender has declined to comment on the case.
Over the weekend police here said that they possess the DNA of one suspect and the fingerprints of several others. In a statement on Sunday they elaborated on how Mabhouh was killed. According to forensic tests, the suspected killers first drugged him with succinylcholine, a muscle relaxant used in the US for lethal injection and by doctors to administer anesthesia. They then suffocated him to make the death appear natural, according to Deputy Police Chief Maj. Gen. Khamis Mattar al-Mazeina.
The authorities are still carrying out their investigation of Mabhouh’s hotel room, and meanwhile calling on other countries to partner in nabbing suspects. It has issued arrest warrants on Interpol for 11 of them.
European countries are assisting, Tamim says. When asked if they might not cooperate fully to avoid raising hackles with Israel, he dismissed the idea.
“We are not talking about political matters. We are working as police officers. By law … they are wanted,” Tamim says.
But politics can still factor in. If they don’t do their part, he says, “next time, for example, if anyone is wanted for them, we will not be helpful.”