Hamas Threatens to Strike Israeli Targets Abroad to Avenge Slain Official

Hamas leader Mabouh killed in Dubai, local police have narrowed down 7 suspects but won't rule out Mossad.

Senior Hamas officials said Sunday the organization was seriously considering a change in strategy that would allow it to attack Israeli targets outside Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The Al Aqsa channel quoted a number of officials Sunday, including Osama Hamdan, who is in charge of Hamas' external relations, and Al Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida, who spoke of the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai last week.

Abu Obeida said that the assassination was meant to be a message from Israel that its arm is long enough to strike at the very heart of Arab states.

"Israel's message necessitates an appropriate response from all Arab states, which need to act to cut off that arm. It could inflict injury on national Arab and Islamic security, not just on Hamas," Abu Obeida said, adding that the organization would avenge Mabhouh's death.

Reports in the Arab media said Sunday that Dubai operates an extraordinary array of surveillance systems, with CCTV cameras filming airports, hotels and highways.

The media said local police may therefore have footage of the individuals responsible for Mabhouh's killing as they entered or left the hotel.

'High-ranking visitor'

Dubai police chief Dahi Halfan told AFP Sunday that Mabhouh entered the country with a passport that did not use his last name, and that Hamas did not inform local authorities of his visit, which was highly unusual. "It's strange that such a high-ranking person was traveling alone, without companions or bodyguards," Halfan added.

The Times reported yesterday that Mabhouh was injected with a drug designed to cause a heart attack.

According to the report, the assassins attacked Mabhbouh in his room at the luxurious Al Bustan Rotana Hotel, took pictures of all the documents in his briefcase and left after hanging a "Do not disturb" sign on the door. Mabhouh's body was found by staff last Wednesday.

No foul play was suspected at first, as doctors believed the victim died of a heart attack. The poison was detected in Mabhouh's blood only 9 days later, which prompted Hamas to blame Israel. Dubai police said, however, that Mabhouh may well have been strangulated rather than poisoned.