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'Israelis no longer allowed in Dubai after Hamas hit'

By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent

March 1, 2010

Dubai's police chief said on Monday that travelers suspected of being Israeli will not be allowed into the United Arab Emirates even if they arrive with alternative passports.

Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim says the move comes after the killing of a Hamas operative in Dubai, blamed by the Emirates authorities on Israel's Mossad spy agency.

Tamim said a 26-member team used European and Australian passports to enter the country in January and kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

"We will not allow those who hold Israeli passports into the UAE no matter what other passport they have," Tamim said.

He did not explain what procedures would be used to identify the Israeli visitors, except that the police will "develop skills" to recognize Israelis by "physical features and the way they speak."

It was also unclear if the measure would apply to Israeli athletes competing in international sports events in the Emirates and how it could affect Israel's participation in international meetings here.

It was unclear if the measure would apply to Israeli athletes competing in international sports events being held there, such as tennis player Shahar Peer, a recent semifinalist in the local WTA tennis tournament.

The comment came as earlier, Tamim had charged Mossad with insulting Dubai as well as countries whose forged passports were used by its agents in the assassination of a Hamas military commander last month.

The Dubai police chief also said a 27th member of the team that killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in his hotel room last month had been identified, saying only that she was a woman.

"Mossad shouldn't come to us. We haven't done anything to Israel. This is an insult to us, to Britain, to Australia, to Germany and to New Zealand and it's shameful," Tamim told reporters in Dubai, a member of the United Arab Emirates.

Israel has not confirmed or denied it played any role but Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said there was nothing to link it to the killing. Hamas says Mabhouh played a role in smuggling weapons from Iran into the Gaza Strip, which Hamas runs.

The UAE, an Arab state that backs Palestinians seeking an independent state, has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

But it has established low-level political and trade links in recent years, with some Israeli officials attending events in the Gulf Arab state. Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer competed in the Dubai Championships last month.

Tamim said dual passport holders with Israeli nationality would face extra security procedures in future and predicted the alleged hit team would have problems traveling outside Israel.

"In the future, those we suspect of carrying dual nationality [including Israeli] will be treated very carefully," he said. "If Israel and Mossad mistreated Europeans, we will not... Our treatment of Europeans will not be affected."

People with the same names as many of the suspects live in Israel and say their identities were stolen. The passport abuse has drawn criticism from the European Union, and some of the governments involved have summoned the Israeli ambassadors to their countries to protest.

Dubai police said on Sunday the killers drugged Mabhouh with a muscle relaxant before suffocating him.

Iran: Probe Western countries for Dubai hit passport fraud

Iran's foreign minister on Monday challenged Western countries whose passports were used by Mabhouh's assassins to answer questions about whether they were involved in the crime.

Manouchehr Mottaki told the UN Human Rights Council that Britain, France, Germany, Australia, Austria and Ireland should answer questions about the role their security services or intelligence may have played in the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

Mottaki has in the past accused Western nations of fomenting terror under the guise of protecting human rights.

Meanwhile, Australian investigators are expected in Israel in the coming days to question several dual nationals whose names have been connected to the assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai last month.

Israel agreed to allow two to three Australian police officers to question the dual citizens, after Australia's Foreign Ministry on Sunday requested approval from the Israeli envoy in Canberra to dispatch the investigators.

Australia last week said it was not satisfied with the Israeli envoy's explanation about the use of fraudulent Australian passports in the killing, after three people holding Australian passports were listed among 15 new suspects.

Media reports last week said that Australian authorities had approached Israel in the 1990s to seek assurances that its passports would not be used in Mossad activities after it was feared Israel had doctored New Zealand passports.

During that meeting, the reports claimed, the Israelis said they condoned such identity theft, with Australian participants describing their response as "enraged self-righteousness."

On Saturday, investigators from Britain's Serious Organized Crimes Agency arrived in Israel to interview dual nationals whose names were used on British forged passports tied to the killing.

'Two suspected Dubai assassins traveled to the U.S. after the hit'

At least two of the 26 suspected members of the team that tracked and killed Mabhouh in Dubai last month traveled to the U.S. shortly after his death, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Records show one of the suspects entered the U.S. on January 21 using an Irish passport and another arrived in the U.S. February 14 using a British passport, reported the Wall Street Journal, quoting "a person familiar with the situation."

Investigators are uncertain whether the two are still in the U.S. Police suspect the alleged hit squad members used fraudulently issued passports, and that the two may have left the U.S. using different travel documents.

Spokesmen for the U.S. State Department and Interpol both declined to comment on the Wall Street Journal report.

:: Article nr. 63783 sent on 02-mar-2010 06:13 ECT


Link: www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1153053.html

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