Good Day Everyone,
As Chuck reported on today's Harvest Show, the United Arab Emirates police in Dubai have presented how they believe Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, the co-founder of Hamas's Military wing and gun runner for Gaza, was assassinated January 20 in his luxury hotel room near Dubai's international airport.
The papers here are full of the details – lets run them down for you.
First of all, it must be said that the Dubai police have not linked Israel to the assassination, and Israel has not commented on the matter. However, Al-Mabhouh was wanted by Israel for his role in the 1989 kidnapping and murder of two IDF soldiers.
According to findings of their investigation into the act, a team of at least 11 individuals operated together to execute Al-Mabhouh. Six carried British passports, three others Irish, one French and one German, but most appear to be of Middle Eastern origin.
A British government official denied any involvement in the event. In an interview in the Daily Telegraph, the official estimated that it was Israeli Mossad agents who were involved.
The assassination team arrived on separate flights the day before the assassination, checked into separate hotels. Two suspected members actually observed Al-Mabhouh check in at the hotel and then later booked a room across from his.
All expenses were paid in cash and the cell used different mobile phone cards to avoid traces.
Dubai police are also holding two Palestinian men suspected of involvement. Both were extradited from Jordan to Dubai on suspicion of involvement in the assassination. One of the detainees is a security official within the Palestinian Authority. This has caused more friction between Hamas and Fatah here – but it should be pointed out that even within the Hamas organization someone may have wanted Al-Mabhouh dead and thus cooperated with intelligence on his movements. If he was a leader within the organization, the very fact that he was traveling alone seems odd.
One possible scenario is that one or more intelligence agency, aided perhaps by European mercenaries, collaborated in this effort but it is not clear at the moment.
What is clear is that security cameras in the hotel in which the senior Hamas official was eliminated documented the cell members' arrival, consultations, and the quick departure after the mission. All 11 members spent just 19 hours in Dubai.
What was Al-Mabhouh doing in Dubai? No one really knows for sure – or is revealing it. Some say he was headed to Iran, something Hamas denies without a further explanation. Whatever it was, he was dead about 5 hours after he arrived.
Concerning the actual killing, Dubai is reporting that Mabhouh was tortured and then died of suffocation. According to police, the cell left some evidence. There was at least one unsuccessful attempt to get into Mabhouh's hotel room. It has not been made clear whether he opened the door or if the cell had already gained access into his room.
That's the latest.
Middle East Correspondent