Hamas scientist shot dead in KL street

Malaysian forensic officers collecting evidence at the scene where Dr Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh (above) was killed in a drive-by motorcycle shooting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Malaysian forensic officers collecting evidence at the scene where Dr Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh was killed in a drive-by motorcycle shooting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Malaysian forensic officers collecting evidence at the scene where Dr Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh (above) was killed in a drive-by motorcycle shooting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Malaysian forensic officers collecting evidence at the scene where Dr Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh (above) was killed in a drive-by motorcycle shooting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Israeli spy agency accused of assassinating Palestinian rocket expert in drive-by shooting

GAZA CITY (Palestinian Territories) • The family of a Palestinian research scientist and Hamas member accused Israel's Mossad spy agency yesterday of killing him in a Kuala Lumpur street.

Malaysian police said Dr Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh, 35, was killed in a drive-by motorcycle shooting as he headed on foot to take part in dawn Muslim prayers yesterday.

In a statement from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, his family said: "We accuse the Mossad of being behind the assassination."

The Islamist Palestinian movement said Dr Batsh, a research scientist specialising in energy issues, was one of its members and called him a "martyr" - a word it uses for people killed by Israeli forces.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Mazlan Lazim said one of 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.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Mazlan Lazim said one of 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".

Datuk Seri Mazlan said that footage from closed-circuit television cameras near the scene of the shooting showed that the two 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 to identify the suspects and get the registration number of the motorcycle," he said.

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the two killers are believed to be linked to a foreign intelligence organisation. He said the police would work with Interpol and Aseanapol to track down the duo immediately.

The police will cover all angles and will investigate the case until the arrest of the perpetrators.

"We will provide information on the developments in the case from time to time," he told reporters.

He said Dr Batsh, who was an expert in making rockets, had been active in Islamic non-governmental organisations that championed the Palestinian cause.

"The lecturer... is believed to have become a liability for a country hostile to Palestine," he said.

Officials in Israel declined to comment.

A Palestinian in Malaysia who knew Dr Batsh said that the victim was also an imam at a mosque close to his residence.

The Palestinian representative in Malaysia, Mr Anwar al-Agha, said that Dr Batsh, who was married and a father of three, was a lecturer in electrical engineering who had lived in Malaysia for the past 10 years.

Asked if Mossad could be responsible for his killing, he said: "I cannot comment on this. We have to wait for the official investigation."

Witnesses at the scene had told him that the two suspects had "European features", the representative said.

The Batsh family urged Malaysian authorities to investigate Dr Batsh's murder and "arrest those responsible for killing him before they flee".

They also asked for the return of his body to his hometown of Jabalya, in the Gaza Strip.

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 - Mr Mohamed Zouari - in Tunisia in 2016. The spy agency is also believed to have been behind the 2010 murder of top Hamas militant Mahmud al-Mabhuh in a Dubai hotel.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BERNAMA, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 22, 2018, with the headline 'Hamas scientist shot dead in KL street'. Print Edition | Subscribe