GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The family of a Palestinian professor and Hamas member accused Israel's Mossad spy agency of assassinating him on the streets of Kuala Lumpur on Saturday (April 21).
Malaysian authorities said Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh, 35, was killed by two suspects believed to have ties with a foreign intelligence agency in a drive-by shooting on his way to dawn Muslim prayers.
Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, quoted by the state-run Bernama news agency, said Batsh was "an electrical engineer and an expert at making rockets".
The Palestinian was "believed to have become a liability for a country hostile to Palestine", said Ahmad Zahid, who is in charge of Malaysia's security.
The professor was to have left for Turkey on Saturday to attend an international conference, the minister said.
He said Malaysian police would request the help of Interpol to track down the suspects, believed to be European nationals.
In a statement from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, the victim's family said: "We accuse the Mossad of being behind the assassination." The Islamist Palestinian movement said Batsh, a research scientist specialising in energy issues, was one of its members.
Hamas did not directly accuse Israel, which carries out air strikes in retaliation for cross-border rocket fire by militants in Gaza, of killing him, but it called Batsh a "martyr" - a term used for people killed by Israeli forces.
Contacted by AFP, an Israeli official refused to comment.
MOURNERS AT FAMILY HOME
Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Seri Mazlan Lazim said one of the two suspects on a high-powered motorcycle "fired 10 shots, four of which hit the lecturer in the head and body. He died on the spot."
"The police also found two empty bullet shells there," the police chief said, according to Bernama.
He said that footage from closed-circuit television cameras near the scene of the shooting showed that the assailants waited for around 20 minutes in the area before attacking.
"We believe the lecturer was their target because two other individuals walked by the place earlier unharmed. We will view the recordings of all the CCTV in the area," he said.
The Palestinian representative in Malaysia, Anwar al-Agha, told AFP that Batsh - a married father of three children aged one, five and six who lived at a condominium in Setapak, near where he was shot - was a lecturer in electrical engineering. He had lived in Malaysia for the past 10 years, he said.
Asked if Mossad could be responsible for his killing, he said: "I cannot comment on this. We have to wait for the official investigation."
The Batsh family urged Malaysian authorities to "arrest those responsible for killing him before they flee", and asked for the return home of his body to Jabalia in northern Gaza, where mourners gathered in front of their home.
The Mossad is believed to have assassinated Palestinian militants and scientists in the past, but has never confirmed such operations.
Hamas has accused Mossad of assassinating one of its drone experts - Mohamed Zouari - in Tunisia in 2016, and the spy agency is also believed to have been behind the 2010 murder of top Hamas militant Mahmud al-Mabhuh in a Dubai hotel.