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'Israeli' hit squad that killed Hamas commander 'had Irish passports'

Published 06/02/2010

Members of a hit squad that assassinated a top Hamas military commander used Irish passports to enter and leave Dubai, it's been claimed.

The suspected Israeli hit team, including at least one woman, entered the United Arab Emirates using Irish documents, police authorities said.

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh (50), held responsible by Israel for the abduction and murder of two Israeli soldiers in 1989, died in mysterious circumstances on January 20 in a Dubai hotel room.

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said yesterday: "We are aware of the media reports and we are in contact with authorities locally to try and determine the truth of the reports."

Al-Mabhouh was said to have been shocked with an electric weapon held to his legs and then suffocated or poisoned.

Iran and Hamas have blamed Israel for the killing, but Israeli news media claimed al-Mabhouh had many enemies and could have been killed by other Arab factions.

Up to seven people were said to have been involved in al-Mabhouh's killing, four of whom used Irish passports to enter Dubai and who later fled to a "European country" after the killing, according to police sources in Dubai.

Declining to reveal their identities, an official said UAE security personnel were co-ordinating with Interpol to have them extradited.

Al-Mabhouh had been out for most of the day and returned to his room only after 9pm, police said.

Pathologists were said to have determined the cause of death as asphyxiation, probably with a pillow found near the body and stained with blood. A room cleaner found his body the next day.

He had travelled to Dubai under another name.

The victim was said to have been in charge of weapons procurement for Hamas and was on a mission in Dubai.

His brother said it was not the first attempt on his life. Six months ago, he was rushed to hospital in Dubai in a coma and treated for poisoning.

Mr Mabhouh's funeral was held in Damascus, where he had lived for 20 years with his wife and children.

In 1986, US officials, including Oliver North, reportedly used Irish passports to travel to Iran to offer missiles for hostages.

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