(photo credit: Associated Press)
At least seven people were involved in the assassination of a Hamas commander in Dubai last week, according to Dubai police chief Dhahi Khalfan.
"It could be Mossad, or another party... I don't exclude any possibility. I don't exclude any party that has an interest in the assassination," Khalfan told AFP.
He also said that the main suspects in the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh held various European passports, AFP reported.
In Israel, meanwhile, officials said Sunday that Mabhouh played a central role in smuggling weapons from Iran to Gaza, but they refused to say whether Israel was responsible for killing the man it had sought for two decades.
Hamas leaders have accused Israel of killing Mabhouh in a posh Dubai hotel on January 20 and threatened revenge, though they have provided little evidence to support their claim. Dubai authorities have said a "professional criminal gang" with European passports was likely behind the killing.
The defense officials said Mabhouh was key to moving arms made in Iran or funded by the Iranian government to Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing confidential information.
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement in the killing.
Mabhouh was wanted by Israel for his role in the 1989 kidnapping and murder of two Israeli soldiers on leave, Avi Sasportas and Ilan Sa’adon.
There have been conflicting details about how Mabhouh was killed.
Talal Nassar, an official in Hamas' media office in Damascus, said over the weekend that Mabhouh had been "poisoned and electrocuted in his hotel room in Dubai." But Mabhouh's brother, Hussein, 49, who lives in the Jebaliya refugee camp in Gaza, said his brother "died by electric shock and suffocation with a piece of cloth."
Another of Mabhouh's brothers accused Israel of killing him.
"Who had an interest in rubbing him out? Israel," Fayek al-Mabhouh told Israel's Army Radio from Gaza on Sunday. "He wasn't connected to any gang. He wasn't a criminal."
Abu Obeida, Hamas' military spokesman in Gaza, said Mahmoud al-Mabhouh
was passing through Dubai en route to another country when he was
killed, but did not say which country.
Iran has acknowledged bankrolling Hamas but has never admitted to
arming the Islamist group, which wrested control of Gaza from Fatah in
June 2007. Israel is convinced Teheran has become a main pipeline for
arms to Gaza ever since the Hamas takeover.
Stopping the flow of weapons to Hamas rocket squads has been a top
priority for Israel. The air force pounded smuggling tunnels under the
Gaza-Egypt border during its three-week war in Gaza last year and
continues to target them sporadically. The tunnels have been built to
skirt an Israeli and Egyptian blockade of the tiny Palestinian
Hussein al-Mabhouh claimed his brother had survived two Israeli
assassination attempts, including an attempt six months ago to poison
him in Beirut.
Hamas posted pictures of Mabhouh's body on its Web site Sunday. The
photos showed the body wrapped in a white burial shroud and a green
Hamas flag and headband. Mabhouh appeared to have been beaten, with
bruises and welts on his nose and cheeks.
Israel has been linked to previous attacks on Hamas figures abroad, and
other efforts to halt suspected arms shipments to Gaza. In most cases
it has refused to comment on the allegations against it.
Last month, two Hamas men were killed in a mysterious blast in Beirut.
Hamas said Israel was a suspect but did not openly accuse it of the
The leader of Hamas' Damascus-based leadership, Khaled Mashaal, survived an Israeli poisoning attempt in Amman, Jordan, in 1997.
Last year, Sudan — a close ally of Iran and Hamas — accused Israel of
attacking a convoy in a remote mountainous desert region of
northeastern Sudan. Media reports said the attacks targeted convoys
smuggling weapons en route to Gaza.
Israel is also suspected of assassinating a senior military commander
from the Iranian-backed Lebanese guerrilla group Hizbullah in Damascus
in 2008, and was accused by Iran earlier this month of slaying an
Iranian nuclear physicist.
National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau dismissed Hamas
allegations that he brought the assassins with him when he traveled to
Dubai earlier this month to attend an international conference on
"What we are seeing here is the wild Middle Eastern imagination coupled
with Palestinian anger that the Israeli flag is formally flying at a
conference at a hall in Abu Dhabi," Landau told Israel Radio.
Uzi Landau, 007