Cameras Capture Death Squad After Hamas Leader
LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:
This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
The videotape comes from closed-circuit security cameras that picked up the movements of the alleged hit squad and their victim from the moment they all arrived in Dubai. NPR's Mike Shuster joins us now from Dubai. And, Mike, tell us more about what the video shows.
MIKE SHUSTER: Others break into his room, wait for him to come back. He comes back around 8:30 in the evening. They leave, he doesn't, and his body is discovered the next day, on January 20th.
MONTAGNE: The victim, a top leader of Hamas.
SHUSTER: Yes. His name is Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. He is a well-known commander of Hamas. He is viewed as one of the founding military members of Hamas. And he was - he's been wanted in Israel since 1989 for the killing of a couple of Israeli soldiers. He was suspected of traveling to Iran regular to make purchases for weapons for Hamas inside Gaza. That's what the suspicion is about this particular trip, but the police chief here did not confirm that.
MONTAGNE: And so the apparent assassins, is there anything known about them?
SHUSTER: They are suspected - although the police chief didn't say this - but they're suspected of working for Mossad. So police in Dubai are hoping that Interpol can help track them down. But it's likely that if they return to some European destinations, if they are from Mossad, they would have traveled on, I would think.
MONTAGNE: And Mossad, of course, the Israeli intelligence agency. Just a quick thing: They're known, their names, but do they actually know those other names?
SHUSTER: It's not clear. There have been some assertions here that these were legitimate passports, but others say they could easily have been forged by any intelligence service, including Mossad. So we don't really know the answer to that question.
MONTAGNE: So, how was this Hamas commander killed?
SHUSTER: Well, there were apparently four of the hit squad that entered his room before he came in. They somehow had an electronic device that opened up the door. They waited for him there, about half an hour. He came back. It is believed that he was first disabled by electric shock, and then either strangled or suffocated. It took about 10 minutes, and then the assassins were seen leaving his room, and they went straight back to the airport and left Dubai.
MONTAGNE: Well, fascinating, Mike. Thank you very much.
SHUSTER: You're welcome, Renee.
MONTAGNE: NPR's Mike Shuster, reporting from Dubai.
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