GCC denounces ‘terrorist’ killing of Hamas chief More passports turn up fake

RIYADH, Feb 23, (Agencies): The Gulf Cooperation Council denounced on Monday as a “terrorist act” the assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai and called for firm action against those responsible.
GCC Secretary General Abdel Rahim al-Attiya called in a statement for EU countries to cooperate with the United Arab Emirates’ investigation into the killing, “to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice and prevent the repeat of such a terrorist act.”
Dubai police chief Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan has said he is “99 if not 100” percent sure Israeli intelligence service Mossad is behind the killing.
Dubai police have released the names and photos of 11 suspects in Mabhuh’s killing who entered the UAE on European passports — six from Britain, three from Ireland, one from Germany and one from France.
Those passports appear to have been falsified or stolen, as they belonged to what appear to be ordinary citizens shocked to learn of their being linked to the case.
“The states whose sovereignty and the security of their citzens has been violated by this cowardly act should take a firm stand against the party responsible for violating international laws and norms,” Attiya said.
He did not accuse Israel of being behind the killing, instead describing it as the work of an “organised criminal group.”
EU foreign ministers condemned the killing on Monday, but were also careful not to accuse Israel of being behind it.


Suspects
The United Arab Emirates has identified four more suspects who carried fraudulent British and Irish passports in the Dubai killing of a Hamas commander, a source familiar with the investigation said on Tuesday.
The use of passports from European Union countries by the killers of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh has drawn censure from the bloc. Dubai has accused Israel of being behind the assassination, but the Israeli foreign minister has said there was no proof his country carried out the killing.
“The UAE has identified two British suspects holding British travel documents and as part of the ongoing investigation has shared the information with the British government,” the source in the UAE told Reuters.


Two more suspects in the killing of Mabhouh in a hotel in January were identified as holding Irish passports, the source added.
The Dubai authorities last week released the identities of 11 people who travelled on fradulent British, Irish, French and German passports to kill Mabhouh, and said that two Palestinians suspected of providing logistical support were in custody.
The new information brings the tally of British passports used to eight and Irish identities used to five.
Six people previously identified by Dubai as members of the hit squad are Britons living in Israel. They deny involvement and say their identities were stolen.
Officials have said at least 18 people may have been involved in the assassination.
The murder in Dubai of top Hamas militant Mahmud al-Mabhuh last month was an act of Israeli “state terrorism,” the Jewish state’s arch-foe Iran said on Tuesday.
“The Dubai assassination is an act of state terrorism on the part of Israel,” foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in a report by state-run Press TV.
“Israel’s existence is itself based on terrorist activities,” Mehmanparast said at his weekly news conference, according to the channel which translated his comments into English.
The spokesman described the assassination of the Palestinian militant as an “embarrassment for Europe.”
Dubai has accused Israel of sending agents of its Mossad secret service to the Gulf state to carry out the murder.
The emirate’s police chief has named 11 suspects who travelled on European passports — six of them from Britain, three from Ireland, one from Germany and one from France.
Several of the suspects have joint Israeli nationality, and suspicion has fallen on Israeli intelligence, which is known to have carried out similar assassinations of Palestinian militant leaders in the past.
Diplomatic ties between Iran and Israel have deteriorated since hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005.
Israel has not ruled out military strikes against Iran’s nuclear sites to stop its atomic programme.


Passports
German authorities are investigating the issuing of a German passport linked to last month’s assassination of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, a Cologne prosecutor said Tuesday.
The passport issued in Cologne “seems to have been used for entering Dubai,” prosecutor Rainer Wolf told The Associated Press, adding that the investigation began late last week.
Dubai police have said one of the alleged assassins used a German passport bearing the name Michael Bodenheimer.
The German news weekly Der Spiegel reported, without citing sources, that a man calling himself by the same name and identifying himself as an Israeli citizen applied for a German passport in Cologne in June 2009. He reportedly claimed his parents were Germans who fled from the Nazis, presenting both an Israeli passport issued in 2008 and his parents’ marriage certificate, Der Spiegel wrote.
Cologne authorities issued the German passport within days on June 18, the magazine said.
Wolf told AP the investigation was likely to be taken over by the German federal prosecutor’s office in Karlsruhe because “it might be relating to foreign spy activity.”
The federal prosecutor’s office, Germany’s top investigating unit, deals with all cases affecting internal or external security, including terrorism or espionage. It did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

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