Canberra: Fraudulent passport use wouldn't be considered "act of a friend."
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Australia warned Israel on Thursday that if it was involved in thealleged use of three fraudulent Australian passports in theassassination of a Hamas terror chief in Dubai it would not beconsidered the "act of a friend," the foreign minister said.ForeignMinister Stephen Smith summoned Israel's ambassador and demanded hiscooperation in an investigation into the use of the passports in thekilling of a senior Hamas figure.Dubai authorities are investigating the use of at least 26 possibly fraudulent passports in connection with the January 19 slaying of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a hotel room in Dubai, United Arab Emirates."Imade it crystal clear to the ambassador that if the results of thatinvestigation cause us to come to the conclusion that the abuse of theAustralian passports was in any way sponsored or condoned by Israeliofficials, then Australia would not regard that as the act of afriend," Smith told reporters.Smith told Parliament that Dubaiauthorities confirmed to Australian officials Tuesday that they wereinvestigating the use of three Australian passports in connection withthe slaying, and that a preliminary investigation suggests they werefraudulently duplicated or altered."At this stage, Australianofficials have no information to suggest that the three Australianpassport holders were involved in any way, other than as victims ofpassport or identity fraud," Smith said.Smith said all three Australians — Joshua Daniel Bruce, Adam Korman and Nicole McCabe — live in Israel.AdvertisementIn Melbourne, Sarah Bruce said she is worried that her son could be the target of reprisal attacks before people realize he was the victim of identity theft."I am fearful, but hopefully everyone will see that it is fraud," Bruce told reporters. "It's not his photo in the pictures they're flashing around everywhere."Smith said he met withUnited Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah on Wednesday, andwith Israel's Ambassador to Australia, Ambassador Yuval Rotem, onThursday morning, to reinforce Australia's full cooperation and theseriousness of the matter.Dubai police have outlined a 19-houroperation to kill al-Mabhouh, including clockwork precision anddisguises such as fake beards, wigs and tourist garb.Israel says al-Mabhouh played a central role in smuggling weapons from Iran to Gaza terrorists.The suspects using foreign passports are 12 Britons, six Irish, four French, three Australian and one German.Atleast seven of the 26 passports share names with people living inIsrael, reinforcing widespread suspicion about Mossad involvement andbringing sharp complaints from European ambassadors about how theexpertly altered passports were obtained.
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