Israeli agents tipped off British intelligence that they were going to carry out an 'overseas operation' using fake British passports before assassinating a Hamas official in Dubai, the Daily Mail reported on Friday.
A Mossad operative said the U.K. Foreign Office was also told hours before Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was murdered in his hotel room by a hit squad the had entered the United Arab Emirates using fake foreign documents, the British newspaper said.
The tip-off did not say who the target would be or even where the hit squad would be in action. A British security source who met the Mossad agent was quoted by the Mail as saying:
"This is a serving member of Israeli intelligence. He says the British Government was told very, very briefly before the operation what was going to happen."
The source added: "There was no British involvement and they didn't know the name of the target. But they were told these people were travelling on UK passports."
According to the paper's source, the tip-off was not a request for permission to use British passports but more a "courtesy call" to let the security services know "a situation" might result from the operation. The Mossad man said Israeli intelligence chiefs understood British authorities would have to "slap them on the wrist" and added:
"The British government has to be seen to be going through the motions."
U.K. officials had said previously they knew nothing of the affair until shortly before the Dubai authorities released details of the assassination earlier this week.
Britain, which on Thursday summoned Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor to 'clarify' the affair, could now face claims it condoned on extra-judicial killing.
A Foreign Office spokesman insisted last night it was "not correct" to claim that Britain knew in advance about the passports, the Mail said.
He said: "We received the details of the British passports a few hours before the press conference [by police in Dubai]. We were able to respond to the Dubai authorities on the authenticity of the passports the next day."