Friday, 19 February 2010


Robert Fisk: Britain's explanation is riddled with inconsistencies. It's time to come clean

How could the Arabs pick up on a Mossad killing, if that is what it was? Well, we shall see

Al-Mabhouh, one of the founders and leaders of Hamas' armed wing

The Independent
Thursday, 18 February 2010

Collusion. That's what it's all about. The United Arab
Emirates suspect – only suspect, mark you – that Europe's
"security collaboration" with Israel has crossed a line
into illegality, where British passports (and those of
other other EU nations) can now be used to send Israeli
agents into the Gulf to kill Israel's enemies. At 3.49pm
yesterday afternoon (Beirut time, 1.49pm in London), my
Lebanese phone rang. It was a source – impeccable, I know
him, he spoke with the authority I know he has in Abu Dhabi
– to say that "the British passports are real. They are
hologram pictures with the biometric stamp. They are not
forged or fake. The names were really there. If you can
fake a hologram or biometric stamp, what does this mean?"

The voice – I know the man and his origins well – wants to
talk. "There are 18 people involved in the killing of
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Besides the 11 already named, there are
two Palestinians who are being interrogated and five
others, including a woman. She was part of the team that
staked out the hotel lobby." Two hours later, an SMS
arrives on my Beirut phone from Abu Dhabi, the capital of
the United Arab Emirates. It is the same source.

"ONE MORE THING," it says in capital letters, then
continues in lower case. "The command room of the operation
was in Austria (sic, in fact, all things are "sic" in this
report)... meaning the suspects when here did not talk to
each other but thru the command room on separate lines to
avoid detection or linking themselves to one another... but
it was detected and identified OK??" OK? I ask myself.

My source is both angry and insistent. "We have sent out
details of the 11 named people to Interpol. Interpol has
circulated them to 188 countries – but why hasn't Britain
warned foreign nations that these people are using
passports in these names?" There was more to come.

"We have identified five credit cards belonging to these
people, all issued in the United States." The man will not
give the EU nationalities of the extra five – this would
make two women involved in Mr Mabhouh's murder. He said
that EU countries were cooperating with the UAE, including
the UK. But "not one of the countries we have been speaking
to has notified Interpol of the passports used in their
name. Why not?"

Video: UK demands Israel answers

The source insisted that one of the names on a passport –
the name of a man who denies any knowledge of its use – has
travelled on it in Asia (probably Indonesia) and EU
countries over the past year. The Emirates have proof that
an American entered their country in June 2006 on a British
passport issued in the name of a UK citizen who was already
in prison in the Emirates. The Emirates claim that the
passport of an Israeli agent sent to kill a Hamas leader in
Jordan was a genuine Canadian passport issued to a dual
national of Israel.

Intelligence agencies – who in the view of this
correspondent are often very unintelligent – have long used
false passports. Oliver North and Robert McFarlane
travelled to Iran to seek the release of US hostages in
Lebanon on passports that were previously stolen from the
Irish embassy in Athens. But the Emirates' new information
may make some European governments draw in their breath –
and they had better have good replies to the questions.
Intelligence services – Arab, Israeli, European or American
– often adopt an arrogant attitude towards those from whom
they wish to hide. How could the Arabs pick up on a Mossad
killing, if that is what it was? Well, we shall see.

Collusion is a word the Arabs understand. It speaks of the
1956 Suez War, when Britain and France cooperated with
Israel to invade Egypt. Both London and Paris denied the
plot. They were lying. But for an Arab Gulf country which
suspects its former masters (the UK, by name) may have
connived in the murder of a visiting Hamas official, this
is apparently now too much. There is much more to come out
of this story. We will wait to see if there are any replies
in Europe.

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