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Israeli PM's arrest sought in Hamas chief killing

Israeli PM's arrest sought in Hamas chief killing

The PM and the head of Mossad are involved with the killing of the Hamas chief.

Dubai: Reports say Dubai's police chief is planning to seek the arrest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the head of Israeli spy agency Mossad in connection with the killing of Hamas chief Mahmoud al-Mabhouh at a Dubai hotel.

Police chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim told Al Jazeera TV he would ask the Dubai prosecutor to issue arrest warrants. Tamim said he is almost certain Israeli agents and the head of Israel's spy agency were involved in the killing of a Hamas leader in The Emirate, Al Jazeera television reported.

"He said he would ask the Dubai prosecutor to issue arrest warrants for... Netanyahu and the head of Mossad," the television said. It did not give details though.

Tamim said he was "almost certain" Israeli agents were involved in the killing of Hamas commander in January, calling for Mossad's boss Meir Dagan to be arrested if it is proved responsible.

Tamim said on Monday Mossad had "insulted" Dubai and Western countries whose fraudulent passports were used by suspects in the assassination.

Dubai has asked the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to look into prepaid cards issued by the Meta Financial Group's MetaBank which the suspects used, a United Arab Emirates newspaper said.

Citing an FBI source, The National newspaper said the investigation would look into any Israeli involvement in the killing.

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"Thirteen of the 27 suspects used prepaid MasterCards issued by MetaBank, a regional American bank, to purchase plane tickets and book hotel rooms," the newspaper said, quoting Dubai police.

MetaBank said it followed proper procedures when it issued the cards. Authorities told the bank that the suspects appeared to have used stolen passports to get employment with U.S. companies, MetaBank said in a statement on Tuesday.

The companies paid the employees with prepaid cards issued by MetaBank and other banks. MetaBank said it had launched its own review of the matter, and had so far found that it followed all bank and regulatory requirements.

The UAE, a U.S.-allied Arab state that backs the Palestinian drive for an independent state and an end to Israeli occupation, has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

But it has established low-level political and trade links in recent years, with some Israeli officials attending events in the Gulf Arab state. Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer competed in the Dubai Championships last month.

Members of the hit squad used fraudulent passports from Britain, Ireland, Germany, France and Australia. Residents of Israel with the same names as the suspects, holding dual nationalities, have said their identities appear to have been stolen.

The passport abuse has drawn criticism from the European Union, and some of the governments involved have summoned the Israeli ambassadors to their countries to protest.

The people who killed a Hamas operative in an airport hotel here in January seem to have thought they could pass it off as a natural death, or perhaps just another of this region's macabre mysteries. They injected him with a muscle relaxant, suffocated him and then smoothed away any signs of struggle, reattaching the hotel door chain as they left the room, investigators say.

Instead, the Dubai police quickly unraveled the plot and identified 26 suspects, in a display of transparency that is almost unheard of in the Arab world. They released a 27-minute montage of video surveillance, exposing the techniques — including agents clumsily disguising themselves with wigs and fake beards — of what is now almost universally believed to be the Mossad, Israel's intelligence service.

first published:March 03, 2010, 11:30 IST