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Daily View: Dubai killing

Clare Spencer | 10:10 UK time, Thursday, 18 February 2010

Top row, from left: The suspects named as James Leonard Clarke, Jonathan Louis Graham, Paul John Keeley. Bottom row, from left: Those named as Michael Lawrence Barney, Melvyn Adam Mildiner, Stephen Daniel HodesCommentators discuss the fall-out from of the use of six British passports, possibly faked, by an alleged hit squad suspected of killing a member of Hamas in Dubai.

The Independent leader accuses the Foreign Office of being "supine" and the government of being slow in response:

"By making public some of the - impressive - evidence it has collected, the UAE seems to be saying that it wants to end the Gulf's growing reputation as a soft touch for other people's assassins. By showing the sophistication of its record-keeping, the UAE may hope to discourage others. But if political murder is now unacceptable to Dubai, how much more unacceptable should it be to the British government? Those false passports call for a much more muscular response than has so far been forthcoming."

The Guardian editorial is concerned that all British passport-holders in the Arab world may now be at risk:

"British passports are the property of the British government. When that government says and does nothing for six days after it was given evidence that Mossad agents stole the identity of six British citizens to assassinate a Hamas commander in Dubai, it starts to seem as if Israel was right to think it could get away with it."

Robert Fisk in the Independent claims that a source has told him that the passports are geniune which, he writes, leaves only one possibility:

"Collusion. That's what it's all about. The United Arab Emirates suspect - only suspect, mark you - 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."

The Telegraph editorial says Israel needs to confirm or deny Mossad's involvement:

"Britain is an ally that enjoys a close, intelligence-sharing relationship with Mossad on a number of important global security issues, such as Iran's nuclear programme. It is for this reason that the Israeli authorities owe Britain an explanation, at the very least, as to how six of the assassins came to be using the identities of our citizens who are currently resident in Israel."

The Times leader column looks at the possible international consequences if Mossad did use fake passports:

"In 1987, Mossad conducted an operation using fake British passports. Britain protested, and Israel gave an undertaking then that it would not embarrass its friends in this way again. But the Dubai operation has now cast a new froideur over relations just at a time when Israel needs Europe's support to find a way back into peace talks with the Palestinians."

Melanie Reid looks in the Times is among the writers who have attempted levity:

"All nice people, quite rightly, are adopting the proper moral stance and expressing outrage and disgust at this affront to international law and justice. But the rest of us... well, we simply can't wait until the movie comes out. Largely thanks to the blurry CCTV pictures, there is an element to the assassination in Dubai that is appallingly irresistible...
"Where were George Clooney and Brad Pitt? To see the images of tubby tennis players bimbling across the hotel lobby and into the lift with the Danny Devito-like figure of Mr al-Mabhouh, and then following him so that they could note down his room number, was to know that this was an incomparable heist; a case of life imitating art imitating life. That it was a rare glimpse into the shadowy world of international espionage makes it all the more seductive."

Seumas Milne in the Guardian isn't impressed with the spy-story comparisons:

"[W]hile the Foreign Office finally summoned the Israeli ambassador to 'share information', rather than protest, Gordon Brown could yesterday only promise a 'full investigation'.
"In parallel with this languid official response, most of the British media has treated the assassination more as a ripping spy yarn than a bloody scandal which has put British citizens at greater risk by association with Mossad death squads."


IndependentIndependent | A murky affair that calls for a tougher British response
IndependentRobert Fisk | Independent | Britain's explanation is riddled with inconsistencies.
TimesMelanie Reid | Times | We're all thrilled by Mossad the movie
TelegraphTelegraph | Israel's dangerous ambiguity
TimesTimes | Passport Control
GuardianSeumas Milne | Guardian | This is no ripping yarn, but a murder to fan more conflict
GuardianGuardian | Israeli assassinations: passports to kill

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