British investigate ID theft by 'Mossad' hit squad in Dubai


British authorities were today investigating whether any its nationals had their identities stolen by the assassination squad who killed a Hamas leader in a Dubai hotel.

Police in the Gulf state are conducting an international manhunt for 11 suspects in the murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in his hotel room on January 19.

The investigators have named Melvyn Mildiner, Stephen Hodes, Paul Keeley, Jonathon Graha, James Clarke and Michael Barney as the British passport holders suspected of involvement in the murder, along with three with Irish passports, including a woman, and the holders of a German and a French passport.

The Foreign Office and the Irish Government confirmed today that the passports used were fake.

"We are aware that the holders of six British passports have been named in this case. We believe the passports used were fraudulent and have begun our own investigation," said a spokesman.

"We have informed the authorities in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) that this is the case, and continue to cooperate closely with the Emiratis on this matter," he added.

Today Melvin Adam Mildiner, a British-Israeli contacted in Israel, denied that he was the man named by Dubai police.

"I am obviously angry, upset and scared -- any number of things," he said. "And I’m looking into what I can do to try to sort things out and clear my name. I don’t know how this happened or who chose my name or why, but hopefully we’ll find out soon."

The picture of Mr Milivner issued by the Dubai police did not match pictures posted by him on his Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Colleagues of Susan Hodes, the mother of Stephen Daniel Hodes, said she had been thrown into panic by the apparent theft of her son's her name by the assassins.

At her workplace Urban & Rural Estates, in Manchester, a colleague said: "It's not her son. She has got a child called Stephen Daniel Hodes and she is in a complete tizz. Thankfully there was the picture which is not her son. Whether someone has stolen identity or whether there are two Stephen Daniel Hodes I don't know. She called in the office in a complete panic. It's just very uncomfortable for her."

Ireland said the three alleged Irish citizens on the wanted list do not exist. In Germany, officials said the passport number give by Dubai for the lone German suspect is either incomplete or wrong.

Identity theft is a established tactic in the murky world of targeted killings. A Mossad agent involved in the bungled assassination attempt of the Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal stole the identity of a Canadian living in Israel to obtain a Canadian passport.

It is understood that the mastermind behind the killing was the French passport-holder, Peter Elvinger. He was the last of the assassination team to arrive in Dubai and took a plane out of the city at around 19.30 on January 19, about an hour before the murder took place.

In CCTV footage of the victim and suspects released by Dubai police, Al-Mabhouh is shown being tracked by his assassins throughout the day of the murder, who donned an array of disguises, including fake beards and wigs.

Surveillance teams rotated in pairs waiting for Al-Mabhouh’s arrival at the luxury Al Bustan Rotana hotel near Dubai airport.

Al-Mabhouh checked into his hotel at 15.25 on January 19. As he entered the lift to go up to his room, he was joined by two members of the team carrying tennis rackets and dressed in sports gear. They followed him to establish his room number before another member of the team checked into the room across the corridor.

Five hours later Al-Mabhouh was dead. Dubai police maintain he was suffocated, though Hamas has said he was electrocuted and other reports have claimed he was poisoned.

Four men are believed to have carried out the killing, with a further five planning the operation and keeping watch.

Issam al-Humaidan, Dubai’s Attorney General, announced this afternoon that the emirate’s public prosecutor would seek extradition of the suspects to the United Arab Emirates once they are arrested. Details of the local investigation and the suspects’s identities have now been passed to Interpol.

Hamas has directly accused Israel’s spy agency Mossad of carrying out the killing. Dubai police said that Israeli involvement has not been ruled out, despite the stated nationality of the 11 suspects in their passports.

A former high-ranking Mossad official, Rami Yigal, told Israel Army Radio that the assassin “does look professional". But Mr Yigal said it “doesn’t look like an Israeli operation" because of the apparent shortcuts, such as allowing members to be videotaped by security cameras.

Mr Yigal declined to speculate on who could have done it, but said that al-Mabhouh had many enemies and was at the centre of bloody feuds. “He was not new to terror ... and he had many contacts with people who had good reason to want him dead,” he said.