'Austria served as commando center of Mabhouh assassination'

Dubai Police says phone cards from Austria used in hit; Germany launches probe in wake of claim some of hit squad came from, returned to Frankfurt.

By BY BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
February 18, 2010 11:56
1 minute read.
This combination image made from undated photos re

mabhouh assassins 311. (photo credit: AP)

 
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BERLIN – Traces of the espionage-style assassination of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh are leading to Austria, where a “form of commando center” was employed to coordinate the mobile communications among the assassins.

Rudolf Gollia, the Austrian Interior Ministry spokesman, confirmed to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the Federal Agency for the Protection of the Constitution and Combating Terrorism initiated an investigation “two days ago.”

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According to the Dubai Police, prepaid mobile telephone cards from an Austrian provider were used in the assassination of al-Mabhouh and a communications “commando center” was set up in Austria. Gollia said he does not have “knowledge” about a central operation based in the country.

He said that Austrian prepaid cards can be “purchased abroad and anonymous,” adding that there is no evidence at this stage that the assassins were on Austrian soil. According to Gollia, the Austrian authorities did not eavesdrop on the conversations.

The online edition of the weekly magazine profil wrote that “the killers used seven prepaid Austrian telephone cards, all of which have T-Mobile numbers.” Asked about the seven T-Mobile cards, Gollia said he is not aware of the number of cards and declined to be more specific. The Austrian domestic intelligence investigation is ongoing.

It appears that a similar communications system was used in the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, India, that killed 164 people. An Austrian telephone provider sold a land-line number, which later surfaced in the attacks.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry told the Post that the country’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is coordinating an investigation with the Dubai Police and Interpol. According to media reports, a German named Michael Bodenheimer came from Frankfurt. After a three-hour period following the assassination, Bodenheimer flew to Hong Kong. Bodenheimer’s passport number is 74812 and the abbreviated number raised suspicions because passport code numbers in Germany are significantly longer. German security officials stated that the documents and names were falsified.



After the killing of al-Mabhouh, some of the assassins flew to Frankfurt. The mass daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that “German security experts believe the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad committed the mysterious murder.”

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