Hamas-linked Tunisian Drone Expert Assassinated

Mohammed Zawahri was shot at close range in his car. A Tunisian journalist claimed the Mossad was behind the assassination. Hamas said only Israel stood to gain from the killing.

An undated photo of engineer Mohammed Zawahri, who was assassinated in Tunisia on Dec. 15.
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Aviation engineer Mohammed Zawahri was assassinated by highly skilled assassins in Sfax, Tunisia, Thursday, according to local news outlets. Tunisian journalist Burhan Basis claimed on his Facebook page that the Mossad was behind the assassination.

According to Basis, Zawahri lived in several countries over the years and maintained close ties with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. He added that Zawahri's work on drones was what led the Mossad to pursue him.

Scene of Mohammed Zawahri's assasination, Sfax, Tunisia, December 16, 2016. YouTube

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According to the reports Zawahri was not living in Tunisia and only arrived in the country four days ago to visit his family. Basis claims he was visiting from Lebanon.

Zawahri, 45, was a former Tunisair pilot. He served as head of a south Tunisia civil aviation organization, and trained youth to fly drones. Mushir Masri, one of Hamas's leaders in the Gaza Strip, gave his condolences to Zawahri's family during an interview on Tunisian radio. Masri said only Israel stood to gain from his assassination.  He added that the Hamas will react to any action having to do with its military personnel.

Reports in Tunisia and around the Arab World said that Zawahri was an enthusiastic supporter of the Palestinian cause. United Arab Emeritus' newspaper Al-Khaleej claimed that Zawahri received threats over the past few years due to his involvement with the manufacture of drones. The newspaper quoted a source saying that external elements are responsible for the assassination, but did not single out any particular country or intelligence organization.

According to the reports, Zawahri was shot at close range with six bullets, three to his head, while in his car. The reports say that the assassin was highly professional and skilled, and didn't leave a trace.

Tunisian authorities pursued Zawahri in the early 90's at which point he moved to Syria. In 2011 he returned to Tunisia after the former regime was toppled.

Tunisian media has also been reporting that Abd Errahmane Belhaj, head of Tunisian national security, resigned without explanation. It is speculated that his sudden resignation is fallout over the assassination.