'Al-Mabhouh put himself at risk by booking hotel online'

UK denies report MI6 was told about use of UK passports before Mabhouh's death.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, JONNY PAUL
February 20, 2010 18:57
3 minute read.
Mabhouh 311

Mabhouh 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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A Hamas legislator said Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was found dead January 20 in his luxury hotel room near Dubai's international airport, put himself at risk by booking his trip through the Internet.

Hamas legislator Salah Bardawil also told a news conference Saturday that the slain man took additional risk by informing his Gaza family by telephone at which hotel he would be staying.

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On Friday the Daily Mail reported that the British MI6 intelligence agency was tipped off by Mossad that Israeli agents were going to carry out an 'overseas operation' using fake UK passports.

According to the UK newspaper, a British security source quoted a Mossad agent as saying that "the British Government was told very, very briefly before the operation what was going to happen."

The source explained that the tip-off was not a request for permission to use British passports but more a 'courtesy call' to inform British security services that 'a situation' might blow up.

"There was no British involvement and they didn't know the name of the target. But they were told these people were traveling on UK passports," he was quoted as telling the Daily Mail.

However, the British Foreign Office strongly refuted the allegations in the Daily Mail story on Friday.

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“Any suggestion that we knew anything about the murder in Dubai before it happened, including about the misuse of British passports, is completely untrue,” a Foreign Office spokesman said.

“As we have said already, the Dubai authorities told us about the role of British passports on 15 February, several hours before their press conference.  We told them the following day that the passports used were fraudulent.

“The head of the Dubai police has also made clear that embassies were not contacted until shortly before the identity of the suspects was revealed.”

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The Daily Mail report came several hours after a 20-minute meeting in London between Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor and a senior British diplomat on Thursday, over the fake British passports apparently used in the assassination of Hamas military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai.

The report hinted that Israeli intelligence chiefs understood British authorities would have to 'slap them on the wrist' and reportedly added: "The British government has to be seen to be going through the motions."

After Prosor left the Foreign Office, however, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he hoped and expected that Israel would cooperate fully with the investigation that had been launched in Britain, and that this “is not going through the motions, that is the rightful business of government.”

Dubai Police chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim said on Thursday he was 99-percent certain that the Mossad was behind the assassination, and that if that were the case, he would ask Interpol to issue an international arrest warrant against Mossad head Meir Dagan, and perhaps also against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

While the Prime Minister’s Office would not comment on the matter, one government official said Dubai would become “the laughingstock of the Interpol community” if it requested international arrest warrants, since “there is not one single piece of evidence that even remotely connects this incident to Israel.”

The official added that the media frenzy over the issue, especially in Britain, was being fueled by Dubai, which was carefully leaking select pieces of information to promote its own investigation. “We don’t know anything,” the official said. “We know only what Dubai wants us to know, and they definitely have their own interests.”

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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