Hamas aide: Assassinated leader smuggled weapons

Mabhouh's right-hand man says terror chief's death will be avenged with attack inside Israel.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
March 3, 2010 08:41
2 minute read.
Gaza terrorists lay wreath next to a portrait of H

al-Mabhouh portriat 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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The right-hand man of a Hamas leader assassinated in Dubai confirmed Israeli claims that his boss supplied weapons to Palestinian terrorists, according to an interview transcript released Tuesday.

The aide, Damascus-based Mohammed Nassar, spoke to Hamas' Al Aqsa radio in Gaza.

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Nassar's boss, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, was killed Jan. 19 in a Dubai hotel room. The Mossad has been widely suspected, but has neither confirmed nor denied involvement.

Al-Mabhouh and Nassar fled Gaza in the late 1980s, after capturing and killing two Israeli soldiers. Speaking to the radio late Monday, Nassar described al-Mabhouh's action after one of the killings.

"Aboul Abed (Mabhouh) stood on the last body and raised his hands to the sky and said 'Praise God who honored me with capturing and killing him,'" Nassar said.

Israeli defense officials have alleged that al-Mabhouh played a role in smuggling weapons from Iran to Hamas-ruled Gaza. Nassar did not reveal specifics about al-Mabhouh's dealings, but said his boss "never stopped thinking about how to fight the occupation by supplying quality weapons to the Palestinian fighters."

"He participated with me in searching for weapons," Nassar said, according to the transcript.

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The aide said al-Mabhouh knew he was being pursued, telling Nassar before he left for Dubai, "I feel like an army is chasing me."

Nassar claimed that Arab spies helped Israel's Mossad agency track al-Mabhouh, but provided no details or evidence. He said he believed those spies were sent either by Fatah or by the intelligence service of either Jordan or Egypt.

The aide said Hamas would avenge al-Mabhouh's killing with an attack inside Israel, but did not elaborate, saying only that it would be "soon, God willing."

Dubai police have identified 26 suspects they claim traveled on forged European and Australian passports, in addition to two Palestinians already detained in the investigation.

Media reports said authorities had added a "27th suspect," but there were no other details given. On Monday, authorities said they were seeking a third Palestinian.

Dubai police did not immediately respond to calls for comment.

More than half of the 26 names released by Dubai police have matched those of Israeli citizens who are dual nationals of Western countries.

All have denied involvement, saying their identities were stolen.

Australian officials are expected to arrive in Israel to meet Australian-Israeli nationals whose identities were used in the slaying of the Hamas operative, a spokeswoman for Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday.

The spokeswoman, speaking from the Australian capital, Canberra, on customary condition of anonymity, did not say when the team would arrive.

Last week, the Australian government summoned the Israeli ambassador, Yuval Rotem, over the use of Australian passports. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd later pronounced himself "not satisfied" with the Israeli government's answers.

Britain has already sent a special police investigator to Israel to meet with eight Israeli-British dual nationals whose identities were used in the slaying.

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