'Mossad agent arrested in Warsaw'

Man allegedly helped Mabhouh killers obtain fake German passport.

June 12, 2010 16:46
4 minute read.
A banner poster ofMahmoud al-Mabhouh

Mabhouh 311 AP. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)


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BERLIN – A spokesman for the federal public prosecutor told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday that Poland had arrested an intelligence officer involved in the assassination of senior Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. According to the spokesman, Germany’s top prosecutor has issued an extradition order to Polish officials because the alleged spy provided “false information” to obtain a German passport in Cologne, which was reportedly used to travel to Dubai in January.

The man, using the name Uri Brodsky, is suspected of working for the Mossad in Germany and helping to issue a fake German passport to a member of the Mossad hit squad that allegedly killed Mabhouh in January, a spokesman for the German federal prosecutor’s office told the Associated Press.

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The spokesman from the federal prosecutor’s office told the Post that two men appeared in Cologne to apply for a German passport. He added that the man currently in custody of the Polish authorities works for an intelligence agency and was present during the passport application process.

According to foreign media reports, an Israeli with the name of Michael Bodenheimer secured a German passport in June 2009 from Cologne authorities.

The spokesman said the alleged intelligence agent in Poland was not the individual who traveled with Bodenheimer’s German passport to Dubai in January.

A man using that name was among the assassins who killed the Hamas operative, according to Dubai police.

Brodsky was arrested in early June upon his arrival in Poland because of a European arrest warrant issued by Germany, which is now seeking his extradition, the spokesman said, declining to be named in line with department policy.

The spokesman had no estimate of how long it could take for Brodsky to be extradited from Poland to Germany, saying “the matter is now in the hands of the Polish authorities.”

If Brodsky agrees, the extradition could take a few days, but that isn’t likely, the spokesman said.

Beyond confirming that an Israeli citizen had been arrested at the beginning of the month in Warsaw, and that he had requested consular assistance, the Foreign Ministry refused to say anything else about the matter Saturday night, including whether Israel was trying to stop Brodsky’s extradition to Germany. The ministry also refused to discuss the reasons for – or circumstances surrounding – his arrest.

A spokesman for the German federal prosecutor told the Jerusalem Post on Sunday that the prosecutor's office "does not know" if Israel "intervened" in Poland with respect to the extradition of the alleged Mossad spy Uri Brodsky. The spokesman said he read the news item regarding the Israeli government contacting Polish officials in Der Spiegel report.

When asked what the legal timeline is in connection with the extradition process, the spokesman told the Jerusalem Post it depends on "many different factors." He declined to issue a time frame and said the legal options available to the suspect conform to EU guidelines.

The Prime Minister’s Office, which has authority for the Mossad, refused to discuss the matter.

In Warsaw, Monika Lewandowska, a spokeswoman for Polish prosecutors, confirmed that the suspect, identified only as Uri B., was arrested at the city’s international airport on June 4.

She told the AP that the arrest warrant was made “in connection with the murder of a Hamas member in Dubai.”

The suspect appeared before a Polish court on June 6, and was ordered to remain in temporary arrest for up to 40 days, she said. Lewandowska had no information on his possible extradition.

Police in the United Arab Emirates said the elaborate hit squad linked to the Jan. 19 slaying involved some 25 suspects, most of them carrying fake passports from European nations.

Dubai’s police chief, Lt.-Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim, has said he is nearly “100-percent” certain that the Mossad masterminded the killing.

The brazen assault in a luxury hotel and its alleged perpetrators were widely captured by security cameras. Some footage, released by Dubai’s police, showed alleged members of the hit squad disguised as tourists, wearing baggy shorts, sneakers and baseball caps, and carrying tennis rackets.

At the time, Israel said it didn’t know who was responsible for the killing but welcomed it, claiming Mabhouh was a key link in smuggling weapons to Gaza and a possible middleman with Iran.

The German news weekly Der Spiegel reported that the arrest in Poland has already led to some diplomatic friction. The Israeli Embassy has urged Polish authorities not to extradite Brodsky, the magazine reports in its issue to be published tomorrow.

When asked if the Federal prosecutor’s extradition order has caused a diplomatic row between Israel and Germany, a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry declined to comment, telling the Post that the Justice authority is handling the investigation. The country’s top investigating unit deals with all cases affecting internal or external security, including terrorism or espionage.

After a German passport was used by a person linked to the Dubai slaying, the prosecutor’s office in February started investigating a possible connection to a foreign intelligence agency.

In February, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle urged a thorough investigation and said German authorities would do everything possible to support their counterparts in the UAE.

If Brodsky’s extradition goes through, however, it could put the government in Berlin – a staunch Israeli ally – in a difficult diplomatic position.

Herb Keinon and AP contributed to this report.

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