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'I'm an IT worker not an assassin'

Techie's terror after ID 'hijacked' for Hamas hit

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An Israel-resident British IT worker has reacted with horror to news that a suspected member of an alleged hit squad used a passport with his details to enter Dubai, before allegedly participating in the assassination of a prominent Hamas official.

UAE authorities reckon 11 "agents with European passports" participated in the murder of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in his hotel room on 19 January. The suspects used six British and three Irish passports while two others used French and German travel documents, all of which are thought to be counterfeit.

Melvyn Mildiner - a British national and IT worker who emigrated to Israel nine years ago - was among the individuals whose identity was snatched. Midiner told the Jerusalem Post that he was in bed with pneumonia at the time of the alleged hit.

Mildiner, 31, said the photo of a suspect issued by Dubai authorities looks nothing like him.

"First, clearly it isn't me. It doesn't look like me," he said. "The details are not correct. The date of birth is wrong. I've never been to Dubai. Someone, somewhere decided to use my identity."

The Daily Mail reports Mildiner was left "angry, upset and scared" over his "misidentification" as a possible suspect. "I have my passport. It is in my house, along with the passports of everybody else in my family, and there's no Dubai stamps in it because I've never been to Dubai," he said.

The Mail adds that Mildiner used Twitter to pose queries about iPhone application related queries on the day of Al-Mabhouh's murder. This unnamed Twitter account has since been protected.

Another Brit, Paul Keeley, 42, who has lived in a kibbutz for the last 15 years, said he had not left Israel for the last two years. "When I first heard about this, I immediately looked to make sure my passport was still there and it was," he said.

Michael Barney, 54, a third impersonated Brit, told the Daily Mail that he'd had a quadruple heart bypass and was therefore hardly spy material.

The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office has launched an investigation, adding "we believe the passports used were fraudulent." A spokesman for Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs told the BBC that it was unable to identify any of the three named Irish-passport holding suspects named by Dubai authorities as "being genuine Irish citizens". French authorities say the same thing about the suspect travelling on French papers while German authorities said the passport number supplied to them was either incomplete or wrong.

Al-Mabhouh, 49, who flew in from Syria to Dubai to allegedly buy weapons, was killed by suffocation in a professional hit blamed by Hamas on Israeli agents. The veteran militant was a founding member of Hamas' military wing, and suspected as acting as a conduit for arms shipments between Iran and Arab militants in Gaza. He had reportedly survived three previous assassination attempts.

Police in Dubai have released CCTV footage of suspected members of the hit squad (10 men and one woman), some of who were allegedly wearing disguises, and all of who stayed in the Gulf only one day before flying out to destinations in Europe and Asia. CNN has a detailed description of how Mabhouh's assassination is reckoned to have taken place here.

Israeli authorities have not responded to reports pointing the finger of blame towards Mossad, its feared and highly capable intelligence agency.

If Israeli agents were indeed responsible for the hit then this would be far from the first time Mossad agents have used Western passports on murderous missions, Reuters reports. Israeli agents used forged Canadian passports to enter Jordan in 1997 in a failed attempt to poison Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, for example.

British authorities received an assurance from Israel it would not use forged British travel documents following a diplomatic protest in 1987, the news agency adds. ®

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