Page last updated at 09:08 GMT, Friday, 19 February 2010

UK denies advance knowledge of fake UK passports

Top row, from left: The suspects named as James Leonard Clarke, Jonathan Louis Graham, Paul John Keeley. Bottom row, from left: Those named as Michael Lawrence Barney, Melvyn Adam Mildiner, Stephen Daniel Hodes
Six British-Israelis say they are not the men pictured in the suspects' passports

The UK government has again denied it had any prior knowledge of the fake British passports used by the suspected killers of a Hamas militant in Dubai.

Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said it was "entirely possible" the government had been alerted.

And a British newspaper claims MI6 and the government had received a tip-off.

Six fake UK passports are thought to have been used by the killers of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Israel says there is no proof its agents were involved.

On Thursday, Dubai's police chief, Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan, said he wanted Mossad chief Meir Dagan to be arrested if it was proved that the agency was behind the killing.

Diplomatic tensions have been building between Britain and Israel after it emerged on Monday that six of the passports used by the 11 suspected assassins were British.

They were clones of passports belonging to men who have dual British and Israeli citizenship.

'An outrage'

Mr Hague told the BBC it was "entirely possible" the government had been alerted to their use in January. Mr al-Mabhouh was murdered in a luxury hotel room in Dubai on 20 January.

If there was proof Israel had used British passports... relations between the UK and Israel would be in a crisis
Jeremy Bowen

And Friday's Daily Mail quotes a British security source who claims the UK's intelligence service MI6 and the government were told of the operation.

A Foreign Office spokesman said it was "not correct" to state Britain knew in advance about the passports.

"We received details of the British passports a few hours before the press conference which was held by the police in Dubai," he said.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the use of the passports was "an outrage".

The Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor held a 20-minute meeting with Sir Peter Ricketts, the head of the UK's diplomatic service, on Thursday but he was "unable to add additional information".

The UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency is carrying out an investigation into how the passports came to be used.

The international police agency Interpol has issued arrest notices for all 11 suspects, although it admitted their true identities were unclear.

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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The names on the British passports are Melvyn Adam Mildiner, Paul John Keeley, James Leonard Clarke, Stephen Daniel Hodes, Michael Lawrence Barney and Jonathan Lewis Graham. They all deny involvement in the killing.

Three Irish passports were also used, along with a French and a German passport.

While the numbers on the Irish passports were legitimate, they did not match records for the names which had been used - Gail Folliard, Evan Dennings and Kevin Daveron.

The Irish Republic called in Israeli ambassador Zion Evrony, and France has also demanded explanations. Israel's secret service, Mossad, has been accused of involvement in the killing.

The BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen said if there was proof Israel had used British passports "for some nefarious uses of its Mossad service - as they have in the past with Canadian and New Zealand ones", then relations between the UK and Israel would be "in a crisis".

Reports have suggested the Hamas commander was in Dubai to buy weapons for the Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas.

Two Palestinian suspects were being questioned about the murder. Police said the pair had fled to Jordan after the killing, but were extradited back to Dubai on Sunday.


CCTV of Hamas murder suspects released by Dubai police

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Sky News New Passports For 'Dubai Hit Squad' Britons - 11 hrs ago
AFP via Yahoo! Israel shrugs off calls for arrest of top spy (AFP) - 17 hrs ago
Reuters UK Credit cards implicate Mossad in Dubai hit - report - 19 hrs ago
China Post Dubai blames Mossad for Hamas commander's slaying - 22 hrs ago
Financial Times Countdown to murder in Dubai - 30 hrs ago

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