Did Suspected Dubai Hit Men Really Visit U.S.?

The international mystery over the murder of a senior Hamas leader deepened Monday when U.S. law-enforcement officials said they were unable to find any records to corroborate assertions by Dubai police that two suspected hit-squad members fled to the U.S. following the slaying.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that "records shared between international investigators" showed that one of the suspects, carrying an Irish passport, had entered the U.S. on Jan. 21—just one day after Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh's body was found in a Dubai hotel room. Another of the Dubai police's suspects in the case, carrying a British passport, allegedly entered the U.S. on Feb. 14.

The Journal further reported that there were no records of either man leaving the U.S., thereby raising the possibility that the two individuals—identified in the story as "Evan Dennings" and "Roy Allen Cannon"—were still in the country.

But a senior U.S. law-enforcement official told Declassified that a "government-wide search" has concluded that "there are no records" of anybody by either name entering the U.S. during the relevant time period. Had either man done so under the names allegedly listed on their passports, there would at least have been records of such an entry maintained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Homeland Security agency that runs air, land, and sea border-entry checkpoints. No such records could be found, said the law-enforcement official, who asked not to be identified talking about a sensitive matter. The Department of Homeland Security declined to comment.

The lack of any evidence of the suspects entering the U.S. appears puzzling, since Dubai police have released a large volume of documentary evidence about the case, including photos, passports, and travel details of 26 different suspects, all of whom had entered Dubai using European or Australian passports. Dubai police have also asserted that some of the credit cards used by the suspects were issued by two U.S. firms: Meta Financial Group of Storm Lake, Iowa, and Payoneer, a New York–based firm whose chief executive, Yuval Tal, described himself as a former Israeli special-forces solder when he was interviewed by Fox News during the 2006 Lebanon war. (Tal could not be reached for comment on Friday. A spokeswoman for Meta Financial said the company would have no comment pending "a factual review" of what happened.)

The murder of Mabhouh is getting high-level attention from Interpol, which is slated to issue more "red notice" arrest warnings of the suspects identified by Dubai, according to an international law-enforcement official. Meanwhile, officials in countries whose passports were faked or obtained fraudulently by the alleged assassins are pledging to cooperate with Dubai authorities and Interpol to get to the bottom of the matter. Dick Roche, an Irish deputy foreign minister, told the Dáil, Ireland's Parliament, on Monday that his government has demanded an explanation from Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman for the alleged "misuse" of Irish passports. Roche noted that, while there is no "categorical proof" as to who was responsible for the murder, "we have our suspicions." He then mentioned the Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency. Israeli officials have steadfastly refused any comment on the matter.