Video: Hamas official accused of helping Mossad hit squad

  1. Closed captioning of: Hamas official accused of helping Mossad hit squad

    >>> for further questioning.

    >>> a story from overseas tonight. we are learning more this evening about an intricate assassination plot, the stuff of movies, carried out by a mysterious hit squad in dubai last month. much of it caught on tape. the target was a palestinian leader. question is, who killed him? we get more from our chief foreign correspondent richard engel .

    >> reporter: the sophisticated assassination culminates here at dubai 's luxury hotel where the 11-member hit team is waiting with disguises. hotel security cameras show a bald man check in, but he leaves a bathroom wearing a wig and glasses. the only known female suspect is also seen at the reception desk with dark hair, but later she is a blonde. then the target finally checks in. mahmoud el mabhouh. he is followed by two men in shorts carrying tennis rackets. on the second floor, one of the men in shorts follows mabhouh, apparently to check his room number , as the other watches for cover. mabhouh would be dead within hours and the hit team out of dubai before the body is found. intelligence sources in london say the female member of the assassination team gains access to mabhouh's room by pretending to be a maid. when he opens the door he is shocked with some kind of taser to subdue him and smothered. now there is a fallout. the assassins used six british passports . tonight the british government is asking israel for an explanation. several of the passports used in the plot have the identities of real people living in israel , including handyman john paul keeli. today his house is shuttered.

    >> translator: i'm angry. i can't understand why me.

    >> reporter: experts say it is to beat security at dubai 's airport.

    >> you could come along with a false passport. that would be a red flag straightaway. what they have done is a classic example of identity theft . the only difference between the details in the passport were indeed the photographs of the individuals that went in.

    >> reporter: israel will not confirm or deny it was behind the assassination. dubai police suspect more assassins may have been involved. they are continuing to search for accomplices. richard engel , nbc news, london.

    >>> now to these winter games

updated 2/19/2010 3:02:50 PM ET 2010-02-19T20:02:50

Hamas claimed Friday that two ex-officers from the rival Fatah organization were involved in the assassination of a Hamas operative in Dubai, and Fatah shot back by insinuating Hamas members were the ones who collaborated with the killers.

The slaying of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a luxury Dubai hotel room last month has widely been blamed on Israel's Mossad spy agency but it also has sparked bitter recriminations among the rival Palestinian factions, which have long competed for influence in the Palestinian territories.

Dubai police unveiled 11 suspects — 10 men and one woman — who apparently traveled to Dubai on European passports with real names and authentic data, but possibly altered photos.

Dubai also said police had two Palestinians in custody for alleged involvement in the murder of al-Mabhouh, whose body was found on Jan. 20. The two were arrested in Jordan shortly after the killing, then sent back to Dubai.

A Hamas Web site, the Palestine Information Center, said those two men were former Fatah security officers and current employees of a senior Fatah official, who was not identified. Dubai authorities have not identified the two Palestinians and would not comment Friday.

Hamas stopped short of accusing Fatah of collaborating with the Mossad, however. Izzat al-Rishq, a member of Hamas' leadership in Damascus, told The Associated Press on Friday that Hamas is "not accusing any party" other than Israel, though he said the agents might have used "small collaborators for logistic issues."

The Hamas Web site identifies the two men as Anwar Shheibar and Ahmad Hassanain. It says they served in Fatah's security services in Gaza, fled the territory in 2006, and currently work for a construction company owned by a high-ranking Fatah official, Mohammed Dahlan.

Fatah denies connection
Dahlan denied any connection to the men or to the killing.

"I don't have any companies in Dubai and I don't know these people," he told The Associated Press by telephone from Amman, Jordan.

"Only Hamas knew he (al-Mabhouh) was in Dubai, so it's their fault, not the Palestinian Authority's," he said. "For political reasons Hamas is blaming us for its own internal problems."

A Fatah spokesman also denied the charge. "Hamas is trying by these accusations to cover up the security flaws in the first lines of its leadership," said Adnan Damiri, a spokesman for Palestinian security forces in the Fatah-ruled West Bank. "Hamas is the only one to know the movement of Al-Mabhouh, and from there the information went to the Israelis."

Officials of the Fatah-affiliated Palestinian Authority in the West Bank city of Ramallah said the two men are former members of Fatah who later joined Hamas security forces in Gaza. They said the men were sent to Dubai on Hamas business last month but had no further details. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they had not been given permission to comment publicly.

Israel mum
Israel has refused to comment on accusations it was behind the killing, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying Wednesday that "Israel never responds, never confirms and never denies."

Hamas and Fatah have been trading accusations over the affair for days, but Friday's allegations were the first time names were used. Each side has made attempts to tone down the rhetoric — perhaps to avoid destroying prospects for reconciliation between the rivals who control separate territories on opposite sides of Israel.

The Western-backed Fatah and the Islamic militant Hamas fought a bloody civil war in 2007 that left Hamas in charge of Gaza and Fatah in control of the West Bank. Palestinians hope to establish a state in both areas.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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