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Page last updated at 22:45 GMT, Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Dubai Hamas killing suspects' passports 'fraudulent'

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh
Mr Mabhouh was murdered in a Dubai hotel room, police say

Passports belonging to the alleged killers of a top Hamas official in Dubai are fraudulent, the British and Irish governments have said.

Ireland said the names and passport numbers of three suspects did not match anything issued by its officials.

Britain said it believed the six British passports were also fraudulent.

Arrest warrants were issued for the suspects named by police in Dubai, where Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was murdered in a hotel room on 20 January.

Two more men, one using a French passport and one using a German passport, are also suspected of playing parts in the assassination.

The French foreign ministry said it was "not able to confirm the nationality of this person", according to AFP news agency.

Hamas killing

Police in Dubai have released images of 27 people they believe are behind the killing of a senior Hamas commander. The suspects are accused of using fake passports bearing their own pictures, but the names of innocent citizens.
Twelve of the passports used were British (shown on previous slide). The other 15 on the list are reported to have used stolen identities from Australian, French, Irish and German citizens.
The 27th suspect used the alias Joshua Aaron Krycer - a stolen Australian identity (pictured left). Police say the suspects used their fake documents to travel to Dubai in groups, flying from Zurich, Rome, Paris and Frankfurt.
One of the victims of the identity theft was British-Israeli Paul John Keeley (pictured right). The passport used by one of the suspected assassins bore his name, but featured a photograph of another man (pictured left).
Palestinian militant Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was killed in his hotel room in Dubai on 20 January. Police claim one of the suspects, pictured on the left, went to a hotel to put on a disguise. He is seen leaving a toilet wearing a wig.
Surveillance cameras also recorded Mr Mabhouh, circled in red above, at the hotel's reception before his death. At the bottom of the image the head of one of the suspects can be seen. As Mr Mabhouh leaves, the suspect follows.
Mr Mabhouh is trailed into the lift by a number of the suspects, including two pictured here in tennis gear. Investigators believe he had been followed from Syria to Dubai where it is thought he wanted to buy weapons for Hamas.
When Mr Mabhouh leaves the lift, police say two of the suspects can be seen following him down the corridor. He was later found dead in his room. A post-mortem report said he had been electrocuted and suffocated.
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German officials said the passport number was either incomplete or wrong, Associated Press reported.

Reports have suggested that Mr Mabhouh was in Dubai to buy weapons for Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.

Hamas have accused Israeli agents of killing him.

A day after Dubai police announced the names of the Irish suspects as Gail Folliard, Evan Dennings and Kevin Daveron, a spokesman for Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs said: "We are unable to identify any of those three individuals as being genuine Irish citizens.

I don't know how this happened or who chose my name or why, but hopefully we'll find out soon
Melvyn Adam Mildiner

"Ireland has issued no passports in those names."

The passport numbers had the wrong number of digits and did not contain letters as authentic passports do, he added.

"These purported passports are false. These are not genuine passports."

The Britons were named as James Leonard Clarke, Stephen Daniel Hodes, Paul John Keeley, Michael Lawrence Barney, Jonathan Lewis Graham and Melvyn Adam Mildiner.

But the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "We believe the passports used were fraudulent and have begun our own investigation.

"We have informed the authorities in the UAE that this is the case, and continue to co-operate closely with the Emiratis on this matter."

It has emerged that at least four men in Israel share names with suspects, but the accompanying photos were not of them, they said. All deny any involvement with the murder.

ANALYSIS
Gordon Corera
Gordon Corera, BBC News, security correspondent
Taking on a different identity is a regular occurrence for intelligence agents on undercover missions. Spies often have a stack of passports under different names ready to go.

It is more difficult and potentially more sensitive to take on a different nationality - and particularly if you are found out, since it can lead to diplomatic protests.

One way of falsifying a nationality is to forge a passport or insert a new identity and picture into a stolen passport.

But a more effective way can be to steal a real person's identity and get a real passport in their name.

There are suspicions that Israel's Mossad was involved, particularly since it has used foreign passports for previous operations including the 1997 attempt on the life of Khaled Meshal in Jordan, when two operatives used Canadian passports.

The BBC and other media in Israel have spoken directly to the men or to their families. Their family names - Keeley, Hodes, Mildiner and Barney - are not common in Israel, reports the BBC's Middle East correspondent Katya Adler.

The men include an odd-job man and an ultra-orthodox Jewish seminary student.

Melvyn Adam Mildiner, a Briton living in Israel, told Reuters news agency: "I am obviously angry, upset and scared - any number of things. And I'm looking into what I can do to try to sort things out and clear my name.

"I don't know how this happened or who chose my name or why, but hopefully we'll find out soon."

He added that he had his passport with him.

Two Palestinian suspects were being questioned about the murder. Police said they had "fled to Jordan" after the killing, without releasing their names.

Officials in Dubai said the team appeared to be a professional hit squad, probably sponsored by a foreign power.

They released CCTV footage which they said showed some of the suspects in disguises, including wigs and false beards, in the hotel near Dubai's international airport.

The suspects allegedly trailed Mr Mabhouh when he arrived in Dubai from Syria, paid for everything in cash and used various mobile phones.

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SEE ALSO
Dubai names Hamas 'killer team'
16 Feb 10 |  Middle East
Pictures of 26 'agents' sought over Hamas killing
24 Feb 10 |  Special Reports



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