TIMMERMAN: A dubious death in Dubai

Emirate police and U.S. officials tight-lipped over Iranian expat’s ‘suicide’

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c Ahmad told his family shortly before his death that he was being followed and that he didn’t feel safe in Dubai. He changed apartments one month earlier because of those suspicions, moving into the Gloria Hotel, which he said had better security.

c He checked into the Gloria on Oct. 13 and paid a full year’s lease in advance. That certainly is not the behavior of a suicide.

c The police report includes no video surveillance footage from the hotel on the pretext there were no cameras on the 18th floor, where Ahmad lived. However, my own visit to the scene found two cameras in his hallway, including one right next to his door, and four more by the elevators and in a parallel corridor.

Most damning of all was the discovery that an ethnic Russian had checked into a room down the hall from Ahmad just hours before his body was discovered by the hotel cleaning staff. A Russian by the same name is wanted by Interpol for a political assassination.

Under one scenario I discussed with the police, someone could have injected Ahmad with a fatal cocktail of drugs that would give the appearance of suicide. That person could have been staying at the hotel, as happened when alleged Mossad killers assassinated a Hamas arms dealer in another Dubai hotel last year.

I spoke with the deputy director general of the Dubai Police Criminal Investigative Division as well as the director of Dubai’s Forensic Science and Criminology Department, among many others. They insisted that their investigation was thorough and carried out to “international standards” by professionals trained in the United States and Britain in the latest forensic techniques (although the medical examiner, himself, was Egyptian-educated).

Why was it, then, that the police never sought to interview the ethnic Russian who was the only person on the entire floor who had checked in after Ahmad’s arrival on Oct. 13 and before his death, with the exception of an Indian couple who had come as guest workers and were interviewed by police?

Why did they have no video surveillance footage in one of the most closely watched societies in the world?

Why did they never question the cleaning staff? And why did the U.S. Consulate stand aside without even calling the legal attache in Abu Dhabi?

I don’t have answers to those questions. But as of now, neither the Dubai police nor the State Department has even asked them, and that is the most troubling of all.

Kenneth R. Timmerman is author of “Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown With Iran” (Crown Forum, 2005) and president of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran.

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