‘Net use risked al-Mabhouh’s life’

Hamas official cites online booking, phone call; French FM calls for recognition of Palestinian state.

February 20, 2010 08:21
2 minute read.
A banner poster ofMahmoud al-Mabhouh

Mabhouh 311 AP. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Hamas legislator Salah Bardawil said that Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was found dead in a Dubai hotel room on January 20, put himself at risk by booking his trip through the Internet.

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

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Bardawil said al-Mabhouh unwittingly led his attackers to him by openly planning his travels - a move that would make him easily traceable if he were already under surveillance.

"Al-Mabhouh called his family by phone before he traveled to Dubai and told them of his plan to stay in a specific hotel, and he booked his travel through the Internet. This undoubtedly created a security breach in the movements of al-Mabhouh," Bardawil told reporters in Gaza.

Al-Mabhouh's brother, Fayek, denied the phone leak, saying the slain operative didn't reveal any details regarding his reservations or other travel plans.

"I am the last one who received a call from Mahmoud," the brother told The Associated Press in an interview. "He didn't tell me that he was going to Dubai and he never told any one of the family the details of his work or his movements."

In an interview set for publication Saturday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told the Journal du Dimanche that a the assassination of  al-Mabhouh in Dubai last month was further proof of the need for peace in the Middle East.

"[The affair] shows the need for peace and a Palestinian state, immediately," Kouchner told the French paper.

Koucher also said in the interview that a Palestinian state needs to be recognized even before its future borders are finalized.

"The issue before us at the moment is the building of a reality: France is training Palestinian police, businesses are being created in the West Bank," AFP quoted from the interview. "It follows that one can envision the proclamation soon of a Palestinian state, and its immediate recognition by the international community, even before negotiating its borders."

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In related news, Kouchner told Europe 1 radio on Friday that his country does not believe Iran's claim that it is capable of enriching uranium to near weapons-grade levels.

"Americans don't believe, not any more than us, that Iran is currently capable of enriching uranium to 80 percent," he said, noting that Iran's claim "adds to the dangerousness" of the situation.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said this week that Iran has the capacity "to enrich uranium more than 20 percent or 80 percent" but that it does not intend to build a bomb. A 90 percent-plus level is needed for a weapon.

AP contributed to this report

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