(AP) DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai's police chief said Monday an 11-member hit squad carrying European passports and disguised in wigs, fake beards and tennis clothes was behind the mysterious killing of a Hamas commander in his hotel room last month. Authorities also released photos of the 11.
Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim did not directly implicate Israel, as the Islamic militant group has. But the details he released at a news conference in the Gulf emirate are the most comprehensive accusations by Dubai authorities since the body of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was found Jan. 20 in his luxury hotel room near Dubai's international airport.
Tamim said it was possible that "leaders of certain countries gave orders to their intelligence agents to kill" al-Mabhouh, one of the founders of Hamas' military wing. But he did not name any countries.
Hamas has accused Israel and vowed revenge.
Tamim sketched out a highly organized operation in the hours before the killing, clearly done with advance knowledge of the victim's movements, and said the killers spent less than a day in the country. He said forensic tests indicated al-Mabhouh died of suffocation, but lab analyses were still under way to pinpoint other possible factors in his death.
He showed the news conference airport surveillance video of the alleged assassination team arriving on separate flights to Dubai the day before al-Mabhouh was found dead. The members of the alleged hit-squad checked into separate hotels.
In the surveillance footage, which also included images from the hotel, the one woman among the group of suspects appears to be wearing a wig and at times wears a big hat and sunglasses to blend in as a tourist. Others were also seen on the footage disguised as tourists, wearing tennis clothes and carrying rackets.
Authorities appear to have linked the group through the videos. They are seen entering and exiting the hotel, standing together or in pairs in the hotel lobby and going in and out the elevator on the floor where al-Mabhouh was staying. They appear individually, sometimes in pairs or in groups of three or four.
They paid for all expenses in cash and used different mobile phone cards to avoid traces, Tamim said.
The killing itself took just 10 minutes, he said. Several members of the hit squad followed the Hamas man – even riding with him in the same elevator to determine his room number – and then checked into the room across the hall. Four assassins among the group later entered his room in the Al-Bustan Rotana Hotel while he was out, using an electronic device to open the door. There they waited for him to return.
Tamim said they were careful not to disturb anything in the room and somehow left the door locked from the inside to try to hide the fact that they had broken in.
The team then headed for the airport, some of them flying to Europe and others to Asia, he said.
He added that there was "serious penetration into al-Mabhouh's security prior to his arrival" in Dubai, but that it appeared al-Mabhouh was traveling alone.
"Hamas did not tell us who he was. He was walking around alone," said Tamim. "If he was such an important leader, why didn't he have people escorting him?"
The killing took place about five hours after al-Mabhouh arrived at the hotel and all the 11 suspects were out of the United Arab Emirates within 19 hours of their arrivals, he said.
Tamim claimed the suspects left behind some evidence, but he declined to elaborate. He urged the countries linked to the alleged killers to cooperate with the investigation and said the photos and other information were being sent to Interpol and posted on the Internet.
Police released their photos, names, nationalities and details of their passports, which authorities said were not fake. At least some of the photos released appeared to be passport photographs and the one woman among the group looked as if she might be wearing a blond wig in her photo.
He did not say whether any of the suspects have been formally charged by prosecutors in Dubai, one of seven semiautonomous emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates.
Tamim told reporters the alleged assassination team comprised six British passport holders, three Irish and one each from France and Germany. Hamas has accused Israel's Mossad secret service of carrying out the killing and has pledged to strike back.
Britain's Foreign Office declined to comment Monday on the allegations while officials seek more information on the case and the individuals named by Tamim.
Israeli officials have accused al-Mabhouh of helping smuggle rockets into the Gaza Strip, the coastal territory ruled by the militant group.
A Hamas statement last month acknowledged al-Mabhouh was involved in the kidnapping and killing of two Israeli soldiers in 1989 and said he was still playing a "continuous role in supporting his brothers in the resistance inside the occupied homeland" at the time of his death.
Hamas initially claimed al-Mabhouh was poisoned and electrocuted. But Mohammed Nazzal, a Hamas leader, has given a somewhat different account, saying al-Mabhouh was ambushed by Mossad agents who were waiting for him in his hotel room. Nazzal said earlier this month that no poison was involved. But he gave no evidence to back up his charge of Mossad involvement.
Top Hamas figures have denied reports that al-Mabhouh was en route to Iran, which is a major Hamas backer. But the group has not given clear reasons for his presence in Dubai.
PHOTOS -- View images of the suspects
Associated Press Writer David Stringer contributed to this report from London.