The Dubai police have disputed claims by British and Irish authorities that the suspected assassins of top Hamas commander Mahmoud Al Mabough, who was killed in his room in a city hotel, used fake passports to enter the Emirate.

The Dubai police's website on Thursday quoted police Chief Lieutenant- General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim as saying the “passports used by the [hit] team were not fakes”. He stressed that European experts had trained Dubai immigration officers to detect passports which are not genuine. Dubai immigration applied all the set procedures and “no forgery was found on those passports”, he said

The British daily, The Independent, also corroborated the Dubai police's assertion. Its Beirut based columnist Robert Fisk quoted his Abu Dhabi source as saying “the British passports are real. They are hologram pictures with the biometric stamp. They are not forged or fake. The names were really there. If you can fake a hologram or biometric stamp, what does this mean?”

The daily said the UAE now suspected that “Europe's ‘security collaboration' with Israel has crossed a line into illegality, where British passports [and those of other EU nations] can now be used to send Israeli agents into the Gulf to kill Israel's enemies”.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an said the Dubai police was in possession of retinal scans of Mr. Mabhough's suspected killers. Interpol has also issued Red Corner Notices for the 11 European passport holders suspected of undertaking the assassination, said Dubai authorities. Seven more have been added to the list of 11 suspects in the murder.

Fresh information is also emerging about the modus operandi of the hit squad. It is now being widely reported that the Dubai police have identified Austria as the “command centre” of the assassins. At least seven numbers used by the suspects were traced to Austria.

Local authorities continue to suspect the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad as the mastermind of the January 19 assassination. In one of its reports, the UAE daily The National quoted Lieutenant-General Tamin as saying Dubai's “investigations reveal that Mossad is involved in the murder of al Mabhough. It is 99 per cent, if not 100 per cent that Mossad is standing behind the murder.”

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