Two more Britons caught up in Dubai Hamas hit

Officials are investigating claims that two further British passports may have been linked to the killing of a high-ranking Hamas official, a Foreign Office minister said today.

Responding to an urgent question in Parliament Chris Bryant said the authorities in the United Arab Emirates had sent details of “at least” two passports which may be linked to the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai last month. The assassination has been widely linked to the Israeli spy service Mossad and has cast a chill over relations with Israel.

Earlier today, Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary confirmed in a written statement to Parliament that the Serious Organised Crime Agency was investigating the “apparent use” of six counterfeit British passports by the hit squad.

Mr Bryant told MPs that details of the further passports had been passed on to the Foreign Office by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates. A Foreign Office spokesman said that no further details were immediately available.

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The minister angrily denied press reports that British authorities had any prior knowledge or warning of the attack in a Dubai hotel.

Mr Bryant told the Commons “new facts continue to emerge” about the killing. He was speaking after David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, held talks with his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, about the alleged Mossad assassination.

The Foreign Office minister said the Emirati authorities told British officials on January 31 that European passports had been used by the killers. On February 12 officials were told that UK passports “might” have been involved and this was confirmed three days later in relation to the six passports currently under investigation.

Yesterday, Sheikh Abdullah told the Foreign Secretary about the further passports which may have been linked to the killing. Mr Bryant said he confirmed “they would be sending us details of at least a further two British passports that may have been involved. That information was received by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office today”.

Mr Bryant said that it was important to be “crystal clear” that “no part of the British Government, either minister or official, had any foreknowledge of Mr al-Mabhouh’s killing or the use of British passports in it or of any clandestine operation being planned. “To suggest otherwise is to make an irresponsible allegation without any basis in fact,” he said.


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