ABU DHABI: Dubai s police chief said on Monday the suspects in a Hamas chief s assassination in the emirate are now hiding out in Israel to avoid arrest and urged the Jewish state to wage its wars at home.
Mahmud Al-Mabhouh, a founder of the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, was found dead in his Dubai hotel room on Jan. 20. Police on Sunday said he had been drugged then suffocated.
I say (the suspects) are in Israel. Israel says they are in Israel, police chief Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan told a news conference in the Emirati capital. If they stay in Israel, they won t be arrested.
But eventually they will leave and can then be detained, he added, referring to a list of suspects passed on to Interpol.
Twelve British, six Irish, four French, three Australian and one German passports were used by 26 named suspects, according to Dubai police, who say they had fled the southern Gulf emirate on flights to Europe and Asia.
Police say they are convinced the Israeli spy agency Mossad carried out the Cold War-style hit.
Khalfan also called on Israel to fight its conflicts on its own soil. When (Israel) has a conflict, let it wage the war on its own land, not on our land, he said.
In a newspaper report published on Monday, Khalfan said that a 27th suspect had been identified, also travelling on a European passport but this time unspecified.
Khalfan said the Western five countries whose travel documents were used in the killing were cooperating with Dubai s investigation. All the states are cooperating with us, and we appreciate their cooperation, he said.
In many of the stolen identity cases, the documents appeared either to have been faked or obtained illegally.
The investigation has caused a diplomatic headache for the Jewish state in which the five countries whose passports were used have all called in Israeli envoys to hear protests.
Khalfan says the suspects would not have dared used US passports. I think Israel was scared of provoking a clash with the United States which it considers its best friend, he told Al-Khaleej newspaper.
The Emirati central bank is helping to trace the credit cards used by several suspects, Khalfan said in another local paper. Dubai police says 14 cards issued by MetaBank of the United States were used.
Israel itself has sought to play down the row, saying there is no hard proof of its involvement. Officials have refused to confirm or deny the reports, although Israeli media see the killing as the work of Mossad.
Former Mossad chief Danny Yatom, on Israel s army radio on Monday, said Western intelligence services also targeted terrorists who threaten their countries, stressing that he was not commenting on the Mabhouh case.
No terrorist can claim the least immunity … All those among the terrorists who conceive, execute and recruit must be pursued, Yatom said.
On Sunday, Khalfan s deputy, Khamis Mattar Al-Mazeina, said in a statement that the killers had used the drug succinylcholine to sedate Mabhouh before they suffocated him.
Succinylcholine, also known as suxamethonium, is used to induce muscle relaxation and is favored by anaesthetists and emergency doctors because of its fast onset.
In addition to the suspects with Western passports, police have announced they have two Palestinians in custody, both residents of the emirate who had fled but were extradited back from Jordan.
Khalfan on Sunday told Al-Arabiya television news channel that one of the Palestinians being questioned had allegedly provided logistics assistance to the hit squad.
According to the Emirati daily Al-Ittihad, a third Palestinian is also being held for questioning. But there has been no official confirmation and the police have not included the Palestinians among the 27 suspects.
Khalfan reiterated in Abu Dhabi his theory of a leak inside Hamas that the Palestinian group has previously rejected.
Mabhouh s people should have protected him and prevented any leakage of information that might have fallen into the hands of those who arrived before him, he said, referring to the assassins.