"It's not me", man in Israel says in hit-squad saga


  • World
  • Tuesday, 16 Feb 2010

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A man in Israel with the same name as an alleged member of a hit squad that assassinated a top Hamas militant in Dubai said on Tuesday he was "angry, upset and scared" over what he called a misidentification.

Dubai police listed "Melvyn Adam Mildiner", a British national, as one of 11 Europeans suspected of killing Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a luxury hotel in the Gulf emirate last month.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas has blamed Israel for last month's killing of Mabhouh, and Dubai police have said they could not rule out Israeli involvement.

Dubai issued international arrest warrants for all 11 suspected killers of Mabhouh for premeditated murder, the emirate's deputy attorney general Essam al-Humaidan said in a statement on Tuesday.

Speaking in British-accented English, Melvyn Adam Mildiner, resident of a town near Jerusalem, told Reuters he had nothing to do with the assassination and had never been to Dubai.

"I woke up this morning to a world of fun," he said in a sarcastic tone, after Israeli newspapers splashed names and photos of the suspects distributed by Dubai.

"I am obviously angry, upset and scared -- any number of things. And I'm looking into what I can do to try to sort things out and clear my name," he said in a telephone interview.

"I don't know how this happened or who chose my name or why, but hopefully we'll find out soon," said Mildiner, a technical writer.

A photo of "Melvyn Adam Mildiner" released by Dubai did not match a picture of the Israel-based Mildiner on his Twitter social networking page, though some features were similar.

"It's not me. Which is one silver lining on this entire story because at least I can point to it and say, 'Look, that's not me," Mildiner said.

"I have my passport. It is in my house, along with the passports of everybody else in my family, and there's no Dubai stamps in it because I've never been to Dubai," he said.

NO COMMENT

Israel has refused to comment on the killing and allegations by Hamas that its Mossad intelligence service was responsible.

A security source in Israel said the target, Mabhouh, played a key role in smuggling Iranian-funded arms to Islamist militants in the Gaza Strip. Hamas confirmed the information.

Israeli hit squads have used foreign passports in the past, notably in 1997 when agents entered Jordan on Canadian passports and bungled an attempt to kill Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.

One of the agents had a passport bearing the name of a Canadian in Israel, who said his identity was stolen.

Israel apologised in 2005 after two suspected Mossad men were jailed in New Zealand for obtaining New Zealand passports illegally.

In 1987, Britain protested to Israel about what London called the misuse by Israeli authorities of forged British passports and said it received assurances steps had been taken to prevent future occurences.

Gad Shimron, a former Mossad field officer, said it has since become more difficult to provide operatives with false papers that can pass muster.

"These days, any border policeman has near-instant access to international databases where he can authenticate documents. That means that passports used by spies have to be as close as possible to the real thing," Shimron told Reuters.

The 11 suspects named by Dubai include British, Irish, German and French passport holders. A government source said six other people, not yet identified, were also suspects.

Mossad is widely believed to have stepped up covert missions against Hamas, Lebanon's Hezbollah militia and Iran's nuclear project. Among killings attributed to Mossad were that of Hezbollah commander Imad Moughniyeh in Damascus two years ago.

In Paris, a French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said it was unable to confirm the authenticity of the passport used by one of the suspects.

Ireland and Britain said they were seeking more information from Dubai about the possible involvement of their nationals.

"Based on checking the information that has appeared in the media, no such Irish passports exist," a spokesman at Ireland's foreign ministry said.


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