(JTA) — Five more suspects have been identified in the investigation into the assassination of a Hamas commander in Dubai, The Wall Street Journal reported.
One of the suspects, identified as Zev Barkan, also is being sought in New Zealand in connection with passport fraud there, an unnamed source told the newspaper.
In 2004, two Israeli citizens were convicted of illegally attempting to obtain New Zealand passports; they were widely believed to be agents of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency. Their conviction led to the suspension of high-level diplomatic contacts for one year and the closure of Israel’s embassy. The embassy recently was reopened.
The new suspects bring to 32 the number of people accused by Dubai police of assassinating Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a hotel room in January. The Mossad has been blamed for the slaying, in which Mabhouh apparently was suffocated after being drugged.
In March, an investigation by Britain’s Serious and Organized Crime Squad found that the Mossad provided members of an assassination team with forged British passports.
The assassins used forged passports from Britain, Ireland, Australia and Germany to enter and leave Dubai. One of the newly identified assassins used a French passport.
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied its involvement in Mabhouh’s assassination.
Meanwhile, Britain this week refused to allow the Mossad to send a new representative to Israel’s embassy in London since the Foreign Ministry has refused to sign a commitment not to forge British passports in future operations. Britain expelled an embassy official, believed to be a Mossad representative, in March, following the completion of its investigation into the affair.