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Israeli Immigrants Stunned by Dubai Murder Link

Tuesday, 16 February 2010 10:06 PM

JERUSALEM - Three olim expressed astonishment on Tuesday after discovering their names on a list of suspected hit squad members who killed Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel room last month.

Of the 11 people named by Dubai police as being members of the alleged assassination team, six have the same names as British-Israeli citizens living in Israel, and one is a German-Israeli woman, Channel 10 said.

Analysts have argued that intelligence agents traveling with false documents are more likely to get past border controls if they use the names of “real” people.

Paul Keeley, a British oleh who lives at Kibbutz Nahsholim, told Channel 2 that he had been inundated with calls from British media outlets since the list of names was publicized.

“I’m in shock and I don’t even understand what I’m seeing,” he said. Referring to the photograph of alleged hit-squad member “Paul Keeley” disseminated by Dubai police along with pictures of other alleged assassins, the Nahsholim resident added, “It doesn’t even look like me.”

Keeley moved to Israel 15 years ago, and said his passport had not been lost or stolen.

“I am just a father, a husband, and a kibbutz resident,” he said.

Another British oleh whose name appears on the list, Steven Daniel Hodes, said, “I am in complete shock and I don’t understand what is going on. I don’t know how they got to me. That’s not my picture, of course. I haven’t left the country in two years, and I certainly have not been in Dubai. I don’t know who is behind this. I’m scared.”

Michael Lawrence Barney, a third oleh who found his name on the list, told Channel 10 on Tuesday, “This is a mistake or a case of identity theft, but it isn’t me. That’s for sure.”

Hamas has blamed Israel’s Mossad for the assassination and vowed revenge. Dubai police have said they do not rule out Mossad involvement, but have yet to formally accuse the organization of the killing.

At least three additional names on the hit squad list – Jonathan Graham, James Clarke and Michael Bodenheimer – bear similarities to the names of Israeli citizens, though Graham and Clarke have told Ynet that they have different middle names.

Bodenheimer’s daughter said her father is an Orthodox man living in Bnei Brak, and that he had immigrated to Israel from the US 30 years ago.

The London Times reported on Tuesday that British authorities had launched an investigation to determine “how six British nationals apparently had their identities stolen by suspected Mossad agents to cover their tracks on a mission to assassinate a top Hamas leader in Dubai.”

The newspaper said that Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office “confirmed that the identities in the British passports used by six members of the 11-strong hit squad were those of real British passport holders,” adding that the passports used by the hit squad were forged.

One possibility being investigated is that “British passport details were copied from the originals by immigration staff while the holders were traveling,” according to the Times.

A number of Mossad operations, including those involving the use of foreign passports, have caused diplomatic strains with Western countries in the recent past.

In 1997, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal was targeted for assassination by two Mossad agents in Jordan. The agents entered Jordan with forged Canadian passports and injected Mashaal with poison. They were arrested by Jordanian security forces soon after the attack. Jordan’s King Hussein demanded that Israel save Mashaal by providing him with the poison’s antidote, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu acquiesced.

Israel was also forced to release Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin in exchange for Jordan’s release of the two agents. The episode strained diplomatic relations with Jordan and Canada.

In 1998, five Mossad agents were apprehended in Switzerland attempting to bug the phone of Abdallah el-Zein, a Swiss-Lebanese man suspected of being part of a Hizbullah network that was plotting terrorist attacks against Israel. One agent, code-named Isaac Bental, was caught in possession of surveillance equipment, and was charged in a Swiss court. He was released after Israel paid a $2 million bail.

In 2004, two suspected Mossad agents were jailed for six months in 2004 in New Zealand after being convicted of attempting to fraudulently receive a New Zealand passport. One of the men entered New Zealand on a Canadian passport, drawing criticisms from the Canadian government. New Zealand strongly condemned the incident.

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Tuesday, 16 February 2010 10:06 PM
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