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Dubai names more suspects in Hamas assassination

Passport authenticity is again an issue as 15 people are added to the list of suspects in the killing of Mahmoud Mabhouh in his Dubai hotel room.

February 25, 2010|By Borzou Daragahi
  • Dubai police released these photos of 15 new suspects in the killing of Hamas operative Mahmoud Mabhouh in the Persian Gulf emirate in January. All of them carried Western passports.
Dubai police released these photos of 15 new suspects in the killing of Hamas… (AFP/Getty Images )

Reporting from Beirut — Adam Korman loves to travel. According to police in Dubai, an Australian passport holder by that name visited the United Arab Emirates city-state three times in 10 months.

The last time the muscular young man visited, police said Wednesday, he allegedly joined 25 other European and Australian passport holders and a pair of Palestinians who allegedly made up the hit team that killed suspected Hamas weapons procurer Mahmoud Mabhouh.

But Adam Korman, an Israeli Australian dual national -- and acknowledged travel buff -- insists that he has never been to Dubai. He alleged Wednesday that his name and passport number had been stolen to create a fake identity.

"I have been frightened and shocked since receiving the news," the 34-year-old Tel Aviv resident told the Israeli news website Ynet minutes after Dubai police revealed the latest set of details about the suspects in the assassination of Mabhouh. "It's irresponsible and a violation of human and individual rights to do such a thing."

Dubai on Wednesday added the names and photos of 15 suspects, bringing to 28 the number of people allegedly connected with the Jan. 19 slaying of Mabhouh in his Dubai hotel room. All of the new suspects carried Western passports, police said.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that 10 of the new names matched those of dual nationals living in Israel.

Dubai last week accused Israel's spy agency, the Mossad, of being behind the killing after releasing the names, photographs and surveillance video of 11 initial suspects, some of them Israeli nationals and all holding European passports.

Two other people, both Palestinians, are the only suspects in custody.

Israel has refused to confirm or deny involvement in the killing, which it has praised. But no one has yet explained how the travel documents used by the suspects came to be based on the passports of Korman and other Israeli dual nationals.

The newly disclosed suspects include three who used Australian documents, entangling yet another nation in the case. Other suspects carried British, Irish, French or German passports, according to Dubai authorities.

The suspects allegedly used Austrian phone services to communicate, and Dubai police say 14 of the suspects used U.S.-issued credit cards to pay for hotels and flights.

Foreign ministers in Europe have condemned the use of European travel documents in the killing and described the assassination itself as "profoundly disturbing."

Dubai authorities on Wednesday also released diagrams showing the 2009 and 2010 travels of the suspects, offering tantalizing clues about the case.

The holder of the Korman identity, for example, visited Dubai in March 2009, departing four days later for Hong Kong.

He, along with a woman holding an Australian passport in the name of Nicole Sandra McCabe, visited again in August, taking a boat from the United Arab Emirates across the Persian Gulf to Iran, perhaps visiting the free-trade island of Kish, which issues visas on arrival to all but Israeli citizens.

Two of the suspects, both holding British passports, visited Dubai in June, authorities say.

Then, in November, nine arrived from Milan, Frankfurt and Zurich, staying for one to three nights, on travel documents from various countries.

At least 22 members of the group arrived in Dubai on Jan. 18 or early Jan. 19 on various flights from European cities. All had left the emirate by Jan. 20, within hours of the assassination.

daragahi@latimes.com

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