Dubai Refuses to Let Hamas Help Probe Murder of Group Leader

UAE police says it will consult only with PA; Hamas threatens to strike Israeli targets abroad.

The United Arab Emirates does not want Hamas' help in investigating the assassination of a senior group official in Dubai last week, Army Radio reported on Sunday.

A Dubai police commander told local media that it would consult only with the Palestinian Authority on the matter, as Hamas has no legal authority.

Dubai police chief Dahi Khalfan told reporters on Sunday that at least seven people with European passports were involved in the murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. He did not name the specific countries of the passports, but said the Dubai police approached the nations for information on these individuals.

The police chief said he did not rule out Mossad involvement, and said it seemed Mabhouh opened the door of his hotel room himself and let his assassins in. Meanwhile, 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, discussing Mabhouh's assassination.

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 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 Sunday 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.