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Malaysia finds motorbike allegedly used in Hamas drone expert’s killing

Local police chief announces development in investigation of drive-by shooting of Fadi al-Batsh, blamed on Israel

Inspector General of Royal Malaysian Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun speaks on the killing of a Palestinian man in Malaysia during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sunday, April 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Sadiq Asyraf)
Inspector General of Royal Malaysian Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun speaks on the killing of a Palestinian man in Malaysia during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sunday, April 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Sadiq Asyraf)

Malaysian police have found the motorbike allegedly used in the drive-by shooting of a Hamas rocket and drone expert in Kuala Lumpur, the national police chief said Tuesday.

Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh, 35, was killed on Saturday in the country’s capital as he walked to a mosque for dawn prayers, according to Malaysian authorities. His family and the Hamas terror group have blamed the hit on Israel’s Mossad spy agency. Israel has denied the claim.

National police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun said that the motorbike allegedly used by the assailants had been found in the Setapak area of Kuala Lumpur.

“The motorcycle is in good condition,” he told reporters, without giving further details

Police previously said they believed either a BMW or a Kawasaki was used in the attack.

Earlier Tuesday, the Palestinian envoy to Malaysia said Batsh’s body will be flown to the Gaza Strip through Egypt within 24 hours. His family said the body would be flown to Egypt and enter the Palestinian enclave Wednesday at 2 p.m. through the Rafah crossing. His wife and three children would also be granted access, according to the claim.

On Sunday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman had said Israel was asking the Egyptian government not to allow Batsh’s body to be returned to his family in the Gaza Strip until Hamas returns to Israel the bodies of two IDF soldiers, as well as two mentally ill Israeli citizens, it is holding in the enclave.

The bodies of the two soldiers — Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul — are currently being held by Hamas, along with two Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who entered Gaza of their own volition in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Malaysian police on Monday issued facial composites of two suspects in the shooting.

Harun said Sunday the suspects were male, around 1.80 meters tall, well-built, had fair complexions, and were believed to be of Middle Eastern or Western descent.

Facial composites issued by Royal Malaysia Police of two suspects in the gunning down of a Hamas rocket expert in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 23, 2018. (Royal Malaysia Police)

Harun said the composite images were based on eyewitness descriptions.

The Palestinian envoy said he trusts Malaysian authorities in investigating the killing, calling them “very professional.”

“We have full confidence in them and are ready to give our full commitment,” he said. “Our embassy officer is also in contact with the Malaysian authorities involved and has been getting updated about the investigation.”

Harun said 14 bullets were recovered from the body of the victim after an autopsy and had been sent for forensic examination.

Gunmen from the Hamas terror group’s Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades stand in front of the Jabaliya home of electrical engineer and Hamas commander Fadi al-Batsh, who was shot dead in Malaysia in a killing blamed on Israel, April 21, 2018. Gaza’s ruling Hamas said Batsh was an important member of the organization. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Hamas on Saturday threatened retaliation against Israel for the killing of Batsh, an electrical engineer it said was a commander in its military wing. Israeli reports said the dead man was an expert on attack drones and rocket systems.

Batsh was walking from his high-rise apartment to dawn prayers at a local mosque in the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Gombak when he was shot by two gunmen riding motorcycles, officials have said. Police said closed-circuit television footage showed the suspects had waited for him for almost 20 minutes.

Later Saturday the armed wing of Hamas opened a mourning tent in Gaza for Batsh. A main banner at the entrance to the tent described Batsh as a member of the terror group’s military wing and “a commander.”

At the mourning tent Hamas’s leader Ismail Haniyeh vowed revenge, saying that Mossad “is not far from this disgraceful, terrible crime. There will be an unsettled account between us and it. We cannot forfeit the blood of our sons, youths, and scholars.”

Palestinians gather in mourning outside the family home of 35-year-old professor and Hamas member Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh, who was killed early in the day in Malaysia, in Jabalia in the northern Gaza strip on April 21, 2018.( AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

Hamas said Batsh was a “loyal” member and a “scientist of Palestine’s youth scholars.” It said he had made “important contributions” and participated in international forums in the field of energy.

Hebrew media reports said Batsh was deeply involved in Hamas’s efforts to improve the accuracy of its rockets and to develop drones. The Gaza-born scientist had reportedly published material recently on drone development, and on transmitters for controlling drones.

Inspector General of Royal Malaysian Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun, right, shows two images of suspects in the killing of a Hamas man during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, April 23, 2018. (AP)

In a statement from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, the victim’s family said, “We accuse the Mossad of being behind the assassination.” Batsh left behind a wife and three young children. He had lived in Malaysia for the past 10 years.

Hadashot TV news said Hamas has sent numerous young Gazans for technical training in Malaysia. The country has proved a “paradise” for Hamas in recent years, Channel 10 news reported.

The Mossad has been accused in the past of eliminating those who supply Palestinian and Lebanese terror groups with advanced technology, as well as having assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists.

The most high-profile case was the death of Hassan Lakkis, who was the head of Hezbollah’s weapons research and development. He was shot and killed south of Beirut in 2013. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah blamed Israel, but Jerusalem denied any involvement.

In Dubai, in 2010, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a key Hamas missile purchaser and importer, was assassinated in his hotel room in a killing widely attributed to Mossad.

Hamas also accused Mossad of assassinating one of its drone experts, Mohamed Zouari, in Tunisia in 2016.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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