'Tall With a Strong Build, Likely Born in Middle East': Malaysia Releases Sketches of Suspects in Hamas Hit

Israel has said that Fadi Al-Batsh 'was no saint', his family has blamed the Mossad and local police suspect 'foreign agents' – here are the alleged gunmen

'Tall with a strong build, likely born in Middle East': Malaysia releases sketches of suspects in Hamas hit
Malaysian police

Police in Kuala Lumpur published the facial composite sketches of the two suspects in the assassination of a Hamas-linked engineer in Malaysia over the weekend that has been attributed to Israel by the victim's family. Officials in Malaysia initially said "foreign agents" may have been involved in Fadi al-Batash's death outside of a mosque.

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In the sketch released by the police, Malaysia calls for the public's help in finding the two men, "the two are about 1.80 meters tall, with a relatively strong build, and most likely born in the Middle East or in the West."

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman suggested on Sunday that the assassination at close range of Hamas engineer may have been the result of a settling of accounts within the Islamist group. He did not respond directly, however, when asked if Israel was behind the killing.

35-year-old Palestinian professor and Hamas member Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh who was killed early in the day in Malaysia outside his family's house in the Gaza strip
MAHMUD HAMS/AFP

In an interview to Kan Reshet Bet radio, Lieberman was asked if he had heard about the engineer’s death before or after it happened. He replied: “We heard about this on the news. There’s a tradition at this point among terrorist organizations of blaming Israel for every settling of accounts.”

“The man was not a saint,” Lieberman said referring to Al-Batash. “He wasn’t involved with improving the electricity grid or infrastructure and water. We have heard the announcements by the heads of the Hamas taking responsibility for the man, explaining the he was involved with the production of rockets, with improving the rockets’ accuracy.”

When Lieberman was asked whether in fact there was no need to shed tears even if the assassination was not carried out by Israel, the Defense Minister responded: “A settling of scores among terrorist organizations, among terrorists, among various factions, is something that we see from time to time. I assume that that’s also what occurred in this case.” When asked which faction would seek Al-Batash’s death, Lieberman replied: “That interests us less. You need to understand that we have no reason to shed a tear.”

Al-Batash was assassinated when two unidentified individuals fired more than ten bullets at him. The police chief of the Malaysian capital said there is security camera footage showing the assailants waiting on a motorcycle for an extended period prior to the shooting. The faces of the two were not visible due to the motorcycle helmets they were wearing, the police chief said, adding that investigators are attempting to identify the motorbike’s license plate.

Malaysia Chief Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun (C) with other police officials holding computer-generated images of suspects involved in assassinated a Palestinian scientist in a drive-by shooting in Kuala Lumpur.
HANDOUT/AFP

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that suspicions are being investigated that “foreign agents” were involved in the hit. According to Palestinian media outlets, Al-Batash’s family as well as a senior member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Khaled al-Batash, accused Israel’s Mossad espionage agency of carrying out the attack. Mohammed al-Batash, the dead engineer’s father, gave an interview in which he specifically said he considers the Mossad responsible for his son’s death.

“Israel assassinates scientists to destroy the mainstays of the development and science of the nation,” the head of Hamas’ political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, said Saturday. “We have demanded that the Malaysian government open a quick investigation to examine the circumstances of the assassination from up close,” he stated, adding: “The Palestinian people has an open account with the enemy, which has been transferring the campaign abroad and assassinating Palestinian activists, but the Palestinian people will stand strong in the face of these challenges.”

Haniyeh, who spoke at Al-Batash’s family’s mourner’s tent at Jabalya, said the timing of the killing was not happenstance and added that he has sent a Hamas delegation to Malaysia to meet with Malaysian government and police officials to monitor the investigation from up close.