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Britain summons Israeli ambassador over Dubai murder

Exclusive: Israeli ambassador called to 'share information' about use of identities stolen from six British citizens in assassination of Hamas official

Seven of the 11 suspects wanted by Dubai police for the murder of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

Seven of the 11 suspects with European passports wanted by Dubai police for the murder of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Photograph: AP

Britain is to ask Israel to explain the use of six faked British passports by a hit squad that assassinated a Hamas official in Dubai last month, the Guardian has learned.

The Israeli ambassador will be called into the Foreign Office tomorrow to "share information" about the assassins' use of identities stolen from six British citizens living in Israel, as part of the meticulously orchestrated assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

Gordon Brown also launched a "full investigation" into the use of British travel documents which will be led by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca).

"The British passport is an important part of being British and we have to make sure everything is done to protect it," the prime minister said.

Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, insisted that there was no proof that the Mossad was involved in the killing of Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel, but added that Israel had a "policy of ambiguity" on intelligence matters.

"I don't know why we take it for granted that it was Israel or the Mossad that used those passports or the identities of that British citizen, yes or no. It's just not correct. Why are we in such a hurry to take all kinds of tasks upon ourselves?" Lieberman told Israel's Army radio.

He was speaking after details in the case began to point back to Israel. Seven Israelis with dual foreign citizenship, six of them apparently Britons and one American, had their identities stolen to be used for the forged passports relied on by the suspected assassins. The seven, who appear unconnected, have denied any involvement in the affair and say they have no idea how their identities were stolen.

Ireland has also launched an investigation into the use of three faked Irish passports by the hit squad. The Irish foreign minister, Michael Martin, issued a statement saying: "Genuine Irish passport numbers were used. These numbers correspond to actual numbers on three legitimate Irish passports. However, the identities of the persons recorded on the forged passports do not correspond to those recorded on the valid passports carrying the same numbers."

Dubai police released on Monday the passport details of 11 people ‑ six from Britain, three from Ireland and one each from France and Germany ‑ that they said were behind the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was murdered in his Dubai hotel room last month.

The New York Times reported this morning that the hit team included a total of 17 people, six of whom had not yet been identified.

Some Israeli commentators delivered the first criticisms of the Mossad today, saying the operation was beginning to look like a blunder. One even called on the Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, to resign and suggested the incident could provoke a diplomatic row with Britain over the use of forged British passports.


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