London, Amman, Asharq Al-Awsat- One of the Palestinians suspected of being involved in the al-Mabhouh assassination and who was handed over by Jordan to the Dubai authorities is “N.S” from the Gaza Strip, and he holds a Palestinian passport and Egyptian travel documents, Asharq Al-Awsat has learned.
According to Palestinian sources in Damascus, “N.S” is the brother of a young military cadre who was killed by Israel in the Gaza Strip a few years ago. A Palestinian source in Damascus denied that the Syrian authorities had arrested any Palestinian suspected of being involved in the al-Mabhouh assassination which was carried out in Dubai on January 20. The sources also told Asharq Al-Awsat that the situation in Syria is calm, and that Hamas is leaving the al-Mabhouh case to its special investigation which is being carried out by deputy leader of the Hamas Political Bureau, Moussa Abu Marzook.
The source, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said that she had attended the wedding ceremony of Hamas leader Khalid Mishal’s son Waleed on Tuesday, which was also attended by Palestinian leadership figures and officials, including leaders of the Fatah movement, in addition to Assistant Secretary General of Syrian Baathist party, Abdullah al-Ahmar. The source said that nobody mentioned the al-Mabhouh case.
The source also said that the mole who revealed information about al-Mabhouh’s movements [to his killers] could not have come from Damascus, as al-Mabhouh lived with his family in the Yarmouk refugee camp and operated independently of the Hamas political bureau and leadership. The source said it was most likely that the parties that al-Mabhouh met in Dubai were the ones who reported his movement and information about his travel arrangement and lodgings.
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a Hamas military official and founding member of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigade, which is the military wing of Hamas, and which was responsible for the capture and execution of two Israeli soldiers in the 1980s, was assassinated on 20 January at the Al Bustan Rotana hotel in Dubai only 4 hours after arriving in the country. He was reported killed by a large hit team that Hamas allege is affiliated to the Israeli Mossad, although Israel denies these allegations.
The Dubai authorities yesterday increased the number of suspects affiliated to this hit team from 11 to 17, with the majority of these suspects holding European passports. However reports seem to indicate that these passports were forgeries and 5 suspects used forged British passports with the original names of British expatriates living in Israel.
Britain has been angered by this, and a spokesman for the British Foreign Ministry told Asharq Al-Awsat that the British government is extremely troubled over the misuse of its documents, and that is has launched an investigation into this. The spokesman added that Britain had offered UAE assistance in investigating this case.
According to information, the hit team arrived in Dubai approximately 19 hours before the murder took place using British, Irish, French, and German passports, and on flights from France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, disguised as business figures. Members of this team stayed at various hotels in Dubai so as not to arouse suspicion.
In Jordan, an informed Palestinian source said that it was likely that the two Palestinians who were handed over to the UAE authorities by Jordan were in possession of Palestinian passports specifically used by Gaza Strip residents. He said that the two Palestinians were most likely residing in the UAE, and fled the country via the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman aboard a Royal Jordanian Airlines flight but without first securing the proper visas, and were therefore not allowed to enter Jordanian territory.
The source, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that any Palestinian living abroad or in the Gaza Strip needs a visa from the Jordanian Ministry of Interior and the consent of the security services prior to entering Jordan, whereas West Bank citizens are able to enter Jordan via the King Hussein Bridge and are not required to obtain all of these documents. He said that the two Palestinians were arrested in the airports transit lounge after the security services received information from UAE authorities that the two wanted figures had boarded a plane to Jordan.
The source also confirmed that the two Palestinians were held until a Royal Jordanian Airlines flight could take them back to Dubai the next day. The Palestinian ambassador to Jordan, Atallah Khairy denied that the two individuals have any ties to the Palestinian Authority, and he also confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Palestinian Authority does not have anything to do with this assassination. Khairy also pointed out that senior Hamas official Ayman Taha, who originally leveled these accusations at the Palestinian Authority had retracted his statement.