KUCHING - Malaysia has detected foreign agents who entered the country to carry out "certain missions" by abusing the passports of countries with diplomatic ties with Malaysia, said Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
They included agents of a country in the Middle East which had a network all over the world, specifically to carry out secret missions to protect their interests, Datuk Seri Zahid, who is also Home Minister, was quoted by New Straits Times newspaper saying on Monday (April 23).
He was speaking in Sarawak's state capital Kuching about the suspected assassination of a Palestinian scientist in a drive-by shooting in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh, 35, was struck down in a hail of bullets by motorbike-riding attackers Saturday as he walked to a mosque for dawn prayers.
Mr Zahid said the government was always monitoring foreign agents, but this was sometimes made difficult when they use passports which have diplomatic relations with Malaysia.
"In this case, we have some difficulty in finding the culprits. But we will take an optimistic point of view and be confident that we will.
"We know of a country in the Middle East which will do anything to deny the potential of the Palestinian people. They target Palestinians who have certain expertise so that they can quell the possibility of an intifada happening there before it can even begin," he said, as quoted by NST. Mr Zahid was believed to be referring to Israel.
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday denied claims of the Jewish state's involvement, suggesting instead that it was a "settling of accounts" between factions of a terror group. He has called on the Egyptian authorities to block the body of Mr Batsh from being brought back into Gaza.
Tensions between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza are high, with 38 Palestinians killed in four weeks of clashes along the border.
The family of Mr Batsh, a member of Islamist militant group Hamas who was said to be a rocket-making expert, has accused Israel's Mossad spy agency of carrying out the killing.
The two suspects were seen waiting in the area where Mr Batsh lived before the killing.
The pictures show two light-skinned bearded men, one of whom was wearing glasses and a white and black helmet.
The killing was the second high-profile one involving a foreigner in Malaysia in just over a year. In February 2017 assassins smeared the banned VX nerve agent on the face of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, killing him within minutes.