The European Union today condemned the fraudulent use of European passports and credit cards, obtained through the theft of EU citizens’ identities, in the murder of a senior Hamas official in Dubai last month, according to media reports.
In a statement condemning the fraud, EU foreign ministers made no mention of Israel, whose secret service is reportedly suspected of having carried out the plot. EU ministers gathered in Brussels ahead of a meeting with Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, according to the BBC
. The news service also reported that Lieberman said there is “no proof” Israel is involved: “If somebody had presented any proof, aside from press stories, we would have reacted,” said Mr Lieberman in a statement from his office.
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was killed in a hotel room in Dubai on January 19 and an autopsy report said he had been shocked and then suffocated. The assassins, some of whom wore wigs and mustaches as disguises, were captured on CCTV
shortly before and after the murder. Video footage shows two of the suspected killers entering an elevator behind Mabhouh, in an apparent effort to determine his room number.
According to The New York Times
, Mabhouh played a role in the 1989 kidnapping and killing of two Israeli soldiers and was involved in supplying Iranian weapons to Hamas.
Authorities in Dubai have released the photos and fraudulent names of 11 members of the alleged hit squad. United Arab Emirates officials told CNN
that there are an additional seven suspects involved in the murder, for a total of 18.
The passports used by the assassins include six British, five Irish, one French and one German. Reuters recently reported
that seven of 11 confirmed suspects live in Israel, but they are now thought to be the victims of identity theft.
The Guardian reports
that the U.K.’s Identity and Passport Service (IPS), which issues passports, said it was satisfied the passport records were real but confirmed that the photographs and signatures of the suspects did not match the pictures and signatures on their records.
The National, an English-language newspaper based in Abu Dhabi, reported
that “the six British passports allegedly used in the operation were reportedly the older style, before biometric passports were introduced in 2006.” The newspaper also reported that the UAE foreign ministry released a statement saying it was deeply concerned that the passports of countries who have visa waiver privileges had been compromised.
U.K. Home Secretary Alan Johnson confirmed that the Serious Organised Crime Agency was investigating the use of counterfeit passports, according to The Guardian.