Mossad behind Dubai hit, Israelis suspect
Israeli security officials said Wednesday they were convinced the Mossad was behind the assassination of a Hamas commander in Dubai and criticized the spy agency for allegedly stealing the identities of its own citizens to carry out the hit. Names released by the Persian Gulf emirate matched seven people living in Israel, raising questions about why the agency would endanger its own people by using their passport data as cover for a secret death squad. At the same time, some Israeli experts said the evidence pointed to a setup to falsely blame Israel. A vague comment from Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman only added to the spy novel-like mystery surrounding the slaying of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was found dead Jan. 20 at a luxury hotel near Dubai's international airport. "Israel never responds, never confirms and never denies," Lieberman said in Israel's first official comment on the affair.
Former detainees sent back to court
France's highest court on Wednesday overruled a lower court's acquittal of five former inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba and ordered an appeals court to rehear the case. The Court of Cassation did not immediately explain its reasons for the ruling, but a copy of its decision will be available today, a spokesman for the court said. A Paris appeals court last year overturned the 2007 convictions of Ridouane Khalid, Brahim Yadel, Khaled ben Mustafa, Nizar Sassi and Mourad Benchellali, who were found guilty of "criminal association with a terrorist enterprise," a broad charge often used in terrorism cases in France. France is among the few Western countries to prosecute nationals who have returned home from Guantanamo.
Germans declare Swiss accounts
More than 2,000 German residents have declared their holdings voluntarily after the government said it would buy illicit data on Swiss bank accounts, rushing to escape punishment before a tax-evasion investigation begins. With 15 of Germany's 16 states giving figures as of Wednesday, at least 2,025 voluntary tax declarations had been made. Just four of those states gave the value of holdings, amounting to $300 million. On Feb. 2, Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the way for tax authorities to buy the stolen data. Since then, more people have disclosed their holdings than the 1,500 names said to be on a CD of stolen account details offered to German officials.
Jobless claims hit a 13-year high
With the recession destroying work at businesses from carmakers to banks, British jobless claims unexpectedly jumped in January to the highest level since Tony Blair led the ruling Labor Party to power almost 13 years ago. The number of people receiving unemployment benefits rose by 23,500 from the previous month to 1.64 million, the highest since April 1997, the Office for National Statistics said Wednesday in London. The Bank of England said last week that employment is at risk of falling "significantly further" if the economy's recovery from the longest recession on record falters. An International Labor Organization estimate puts the British jobless rate at 7.8 percent.