March 2, 2010 - 1:00am

Hamas suspects the security forces of an Arab state were behind the assassination of a senior group operative in Dubai earlier this year, the Al-Quds Al-Araby daily reported on Tuesday.

Mahmoud Nasser, a member of Hamas' political bureau, told the newspaper that slain commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was likely being tracked by agents from Jordan and Egypt prior to the January 19 killing.

Nasser said he had been given information regarding such efforts to kill Mabhouh, adding that the evidence indicated that the assassination was carried out earlier than the alleged agents had planned.

According to Nasser, Mabhouh was in possession of "dangerous" information seen as dangerous to particular Arab elements seeking to topple Islamist resistance.

Nasser oversees Hamas' ties with Iran and worked closely with Mabhouh, sometimes referred to as his deputy. Hamas raised these accusations after a prelimary investigation immediately following the murder, and match early suspicions raised by Dubai as well.

The UAE-based The National reported earlier Tuesday that Dubai has asked the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to look into U.S.-issued pre-paid credit cards used by suspects in Mabhouh's killing.

Citing an FBI source, The National newspaper said the investigation will look into any Israeli involvement in the assassination at a Dubai luxury hotel.

"Thirteen of the 27 suspects used prepaid MasterCards issued by MetaBank, a regional American bank, to purchase plane tickets and book hotel rooms," the paper said, citing Dubai police.

Police chief Dahi Khalfan Tamim said on Monday that Israel's intelligence agency Mossad had "insulted" Dubai and other countries whose forged passports were used by suspects in the assassination of the Hamas military commander in the emirate.

Tamim also said a 27th member of the team that killed Mabhouh in his hotel room had been identified.

The police chief also said that travelers suspected of being Israeli will not be allowed into the United Arab Emirates even if they arrive with alternative passports.

He did not explain what procedures would be used to identify the Israeli visitors, except that the police will "develop skills" to recognize Israelis by "physical features and the way they speak."

It was also unclear if the measure would apply to Israeli athletes competing in international sports events in the Emirates and how it could affect Israel's participation in international meetings here.


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