Dubai Police Release New Suspects in Hit Squad Killing

An updated 'Wanted' poster brings the total to 26 suspects, among them six women

February 24, 2010, 10:45 AM

DUBAI, Feb. 24, 2010— -- Dubai Police say 15 new suspects have been identified as part of a ring that killed Hamas commander Mahmoud Al Mabhouh in a hotel room last month.

Fourteen of the suspects purportedly used credit cards from META Bank, a regional American bank, to pay for hotel rooms and travel arrangements.

In documents obtained by ABC News, Dubai police linked META Bank to a New York-based company called Payoneer, which provided prepaid MasterCard credit cards issued by META Bank. According to its Web site, Payoneer has a research and development center in Tel Aviv.

Some of the suspects identified today played a central role in the crime, others are accused of 'providing prior logistical support and preparations to facilitate,' making a series of trips to Dubai in advance of the Jan. 20 killing.

Earlier this month Dubai Police released CCTV footage of the suspects trailing their victim up to the moments of Mabhouh's death by suffocation.

The newly-accused include six British passport holders, three Irish passport holders, three French passport holders, and three Australian passport holders. An earlier set of suspects were found to be travelling on false identities and using cloned European passports. An updated 'Wanted' poster issued by Dubai Police brings the total to 26 suspects, among them six women. Two Palestinians have also been held in connection with the crime, after being extradited from Jordan.

Mabhouh was one of the founders of Hamas's military wing, the Ezzedine Al Qassem Brigade. He has admitted to the kidnapping and killing of two Israeli soldiers in the 1989, until recently living in exile with other Hamas leaders in Damascus and, according to Israeli intelligence, arranging arms shipments from Iran to the Gaza Strip.

Dubai police believe Israel's spy agency Mossad is behind the killing although Israeli officials refuse to confirm the allegation.

On Tuesday Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni would not confirm Mossad's involvement, but said the killing was "good news" for those fighting terrorism worldwide.

The use of faked foreign passports has created diplomatic tension between Israel and the European Union particularly with the British government. Israel's foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman had face to face meetings with several of his European counterparts in Brussels this week, after Israeli ambassadors had been summoned to discuss apparent breaches of passport security.

A spokesperson for META Bank had no comment, explaining that the company is trying to confirm the accuracy of the claims made by Dubai police.

A spokesperson for Payoneer told ABC News that the company is aware of news reports linking it to the suspects in the Dubai hit. "We are cooperating with [META Bank] and the authorities to explore the matter."

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