Jerusalem: Foreign-born Israelis named as part of an Israeli hit squad denied Tuesday any involvement in the assassination of a top Hamas militant in Dubai and said their identities had been hijacked.
Seven of 11 suspects named by Dubai in the slaying of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh last month were said to live in Israel, suggesting the Mossad had committed a major blunder, if it turned out that Israel was indeed involved in the attack.
The Palestinian militant group Hamas has blamed Israel for the assassination that took place in a luxury hotel in the Gulf emirate, and Dubai police have said they could not rule out Israeli involvement. Israel has declined to comment.
One of the suspects, reached by Reuters on the telephone, denied any involvement in the killing, calling himself the victim of an identity theft.
"I am obviously angry, upset and scared," Melvyn Adam Mildiner, a British immigrant to Israel, said in British-accented English.
Mildiner of Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem, said he had nothing to do with the assassination and had never been to Dubai.
"I don`t know how this happened or who chose my name or why, but hopefully we`ll find out soon," said Mildiner, a technical writer after Israeli newspapers splashed names and photos of the suspects distributed in Dubai.
"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," Mildiner said.
Three other men on Dubai`s list offered similar accounts to Israeli television stations and Web sites. Most shared a profile of having immigrated to Israel from English-speaking countries and had dual national identities.
"I don`t know what to say. It`s a mistaken or stolen identity, it`s not me, that`s for sure," Michael Lawrence Barney said in a televised interview in which his face wasn`t shown.
Stephen Hodes, another recent immigrant to the Jewish state, said: "I am in total shock. I don`t know how they reached me. The photographs are not of me, of course...I`m mortified."
Fake or stolen identities?
Dubai said it issued international arrest warrants for all suspects, who also include German and French passport holders. A government source said six other people, not yet identified, was also believed to be involved.
As the mystery over suspects` identities deepened, Britain and Ireland said they believed British and Irish passports which Dubai alleged were used by members of the hit squad -- whose photographs were released by the emirate -- were fake.