Ireland confirms 'Irish' Dubai killers don't exist
The three Irish passport-holders accused of taking part in the assassination of a Hamas commander in Dubai last month do not exist, Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday.
The trio of alleged Irishmen identified Monday in Dubai as Gail Folliard, Evan Dennings and Kevin Daveron do not appear in Ireland's records of legitimate passport-holders, said the government.
"We are unable to identify any of those three individuals as being genuine Irish citizens. Ireland has issued no passports in those names," the department said in a statement.
The government added that the Irish passport numbers publicized by Dubai authorities also are counterfeits, because they have the wrong number of digits and contain no letters.
British government sources told the Daily Telegraph earlier Tuesday that the three Irish passport-holders were most likely Mossad agents carrying false documentation.
The Telegraph report came one day after Dubai Police Chief Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim announced that senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was murdered by an 11-member hit squad of mercenaries carrying European passports.
The group was responsible for killing the Hamas commander in his hotel room on January 20, a slaying that has elicited vows of revenge from the Palestinian militant group.
Dubai will soon issue arrest warrants for the 11 suspects, but Tamim said Monday that he had still not ruled out Israeli involvement. While he did not accuse Israel directly, Tamim did say it was possible that "leaders of certain countries gave orders to their intelligence agents."
"We do not rule out Mossad, but when we arrest those suspects we will know who masterminded it. [We have not] issued arrest warrants yet, but will do so soon," he told a press conference on Monday.
He told reporters that six members of the alleged assassination team held British passports, three held Irish passports, and one each from France and Germany. A leading suspect, who carried a French passport, left Dubai for Munich via Qatar after the killing, Tamim added.
Police released the suspects' photos, names, nationalities and details from their passports, which authorities said were not fake.
"Israel carries out a lot of assassinations in many countries, even in countries it is allied to," Tamim said, adding that Mabhouh may have been killed by electrocution.
The Jordanian government on Tuesday confirmed that it had extradited two Palestinians to the United Arab Emirates authorities in connection with the assassination.
"The extradition took place in accordance with observed legal and official rules and the relevant bilateral agreements," Minister of State for Media Affairs Nabil Sharif said in a statement.
Sharif declined to divulge the identity or the affiliations of the two Palestinians, saying "it was up to the UAE authorities to do so."
The rival Palestinian groups - Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement - were involved in verbal exchanges on Tuesday regarding the camp to which the two Palestinian suspects belonged.
At Monday's news conference, Tamim revealed surveillance video of the alleged assassination team arriving on separate flights to Dubai the day before Mabhouh was found dead; the suspects also checked into separate hotels. They paid for all expenses in cash and used different mobile phone cards to avoid being traced, he added.
The killing itself took just 10 minutes, Tamim said. Several members of the hit squad followed the Hamas man - even riding with him in the same elevator to determine his room number - and then checked into the room across the hall. Four assassins later entered his room in the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel while he was out, using an electronic device to open the door, and waited for him to return, Tamim said.
He added that there was "serious penetration into al-Mabhouh's security prior to his arrival" in Dubai, but that it appeared he was traveling alone.
"Hamas did not tell us who he was. He was walking around alone," said Tamim. "If he was such an important leader, why didn't he have people escorting him?"
Tamim said there had been at least one unsuccessful attempt to break into Mabhouh's room. It was unclear whether he opened the door to his killers or if the room was forcibly entered.
The killing took place about five hours after Mabhouh arrived at the hotel and all 11 suspects were out of the United Arab Emirates within 19 hours of their arrivals, he added.
The mercenaries were apparently dressed in tennis gear and visited several hotels on the day of the assassination in order to remain inconspicuous.
Tamim said the suspects left some evidence, but declined to elaborate. He urged the countries linked to the alleged killers to cooperate with the investigation.
Tamim also said forensic tests indicate Mabhouh died of suffocation, but lab analyses are still under way.
Violent crime is rare in Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates and a regional trading and tourism hub. Like most Arab countries, the UAE has no diplomatic ties with Israel and Israelis are routinely denied entry.
Last week the Paris-based journal Intelligence Online reported that Dubai's secret service requested assistance from its counterparts in Egypt and Jordan, and from Interpol. Yet it seems unlikely that Egypt or Jordan could provide much help as both are hostile to Hamas.
The journal said Dubai's government had ordered that Hamas itself be kept out of the probe, but Hamas is conducting its own investigation, with help from Iran and Syria. Top Hamas figures have denied that Mabhouh was en route to Iran.