Malaysian police issue sketches of suspects in hit on Hamas rocket expert

Malaysian police issue sketches of suspects in hit on Hamas rocket expert

Men in killing ascribed to Mossad described as being of Middle Eastern or European descent, well-built, 1.80 meters tall; officials say no threat made to family of Fadi al-Batsh

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)
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)

Malaysian police on Monday issued facial composites of two suspects in the shooting of a Hamas rocket and drone expert gunned down over the weekend, in what the Palestinian terror group says was an assassination by Israel.

Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh, 35, was killed in a drive-by shooting on Saturday in the country’s capital, according to Malaysian authorities.

Royal Malaysia Police Inspector-General Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi 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.

Harun said the composite images were based on eyewitness descriptions.

The suspects had been riding BMW and Kawasaki motorbikes and it was not clear if they were still in the country, he added.

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

A picture taken on April 21, 2018 shows men holding up a poster portrait of 35-year-old Palestinian professor and Hamas member Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh who was killed in Malaysia, outside his family’s house in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza strip. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

He noted that no threat had been made against Batsh’s family.

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 house 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 Israel’s Mossad spy agency “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.

Ten masked fighters in camouflage uniforms stood in a line outside the tent in Jabaliya, the slain man’s hometown, to greet mourners. The ceremony is typical for senior Hamas commanders.

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)

If Israel was behind the hit, Israel’s Channel 10 reported, then the Mossad was evidently focusing on preventing advanced technologies from reaching Hamas.

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 reported.

On Sunday Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that 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.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman leads a faction meeting of his Yisrael Beytenu party in the Knesset, March 12, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

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.

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