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How Hamas's top leader was assassinated

February 17, 2010 19:32 IST
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The murder of Hamas military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh on January 19 at a hotel in Dubai, allegedly by 11 members of Israel's Mossad, has again proved the chilling credentials of the organisation, considered the deadliest intelligence agency in the world.

According to a report in the Telegraph, the group, which included a woman, entered the hotel dressed as businessmen and tennis players, and managed to strangle Mabhouh inside his room.

The assassins arrived in Dubai carrying French, German, Italian and Swiss passports, and checked into different hotels, says the report. They used fake names like Gail Folliard, Kevin Daveron and Peter Elvinger.

They met later at a shopping mall, and communicated with each other before that via a 'command centre' in Austria, says the report.

The group dispersed after the meeting and headed to different directions, according to investigators in Dubai, who painstakingly sifted through hours of CCTV footage to track the movements of the assassins.

The group broke up into several surveillance teams, says the Telegraph -- while one arrived at the al-Bustan Rotana hotel, the other kept a watch at another hotel in case Mabhouh decided to stay there.

It is not clear why Mabhouh traveled to Dubai from Syria, but investigators suspect that the assassins had set up a trap for him, using a major arms deal for the Hamas as bait, says the paper.

Traveling under the alias of Mahmoud Abdul Ra'ouf Mohammed, Mabhouh was spotted at the Dubai airport by a member of another surveillance team, who had waited hours for him.

After he checked into the al-Bustan hotel, one of the hit squad dressed as a tennis player accompanied him in the lift, and followed him to his room, the daily said.

The information was then passed on to Elvinger, the group's leader, who promptly checked into the room across the corridor from Mabhouh, says the Telegraph.

Soon, another surveillance team arrived to keep a check on the target, who left the hotel half an hour later. The group tried to take advantage of his absence and attempted to break into his room, while the woman and Daveron kept a look out for other guests.

CCTV cameras managed to capture the assassins trying to break into Mabhouh's room, but they were interrupted by another guest, and forced to give up their plans.

Mabhouh came back to the hotel about four hours later, and went up to his room.

The police have not released footage of what happened next, but the assassins somehow managed to force or fool Mabhouh into opening his door, and suffocated him, said the paper. They then locked the door from inside and left.

The team left Dubai on different flights over the span of the next 12 hours, and fled to various destinations including Frankfurt, Hong Kong and South Africa, said the Telegraph.

Mabhouh's dead body was discovered over twelve hours later, and his killers, 'a professional team that is highly skilled in these kinds of operations', were thousands of miles away by that time, said the daily.

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