Hamas said on Saturday that a man who was gunned down in Malaysia was an important member of the organisation, accusing Israel of being behind the brazen killing and vowing revenge.
Malaysian authorities said Fadi al-Batsh, 35, was killed by two suspects believed to have ties with a foreign intelligence agency in a drive-by shooting in Kuala Lumpur on his way to dawn Muslim prayers.
Police said closed-circuit television footage showed him targeted by assassins who had waited for him for almost 20 minutes before firing at him at least eight times from a motorcycle.
Hamas said Palestinian engineer Fadi al-Batsh was a “loyal” member and a “scientist of Palestine’s youth scholars.”
It gave no further details on his scientific accomplishments but said he had made “important contributions” and participated in international forums in the field of energy.
Al-Batsh specialised in electrical and electronic engineering and worked at a Malaysian university. He had lived there with his family for the past eight years and was an imam at a local mosque. Senior Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh told The Associated Press that based on previous assassinations “Mossad is not away from this disgraceful, terrible crime.”
“There will be an unsettled account between us and it,” Haniyeh said at the Gaza mourning tent, referring to Mossad. “We cannot give up on the blood of our sons, youths and scholars.”
The Israeli government had no comment. Israel has a long history of suspected targeting of wanted Palestinian militants in overseas operations around the globe and has been linked to other assassinations as well, though it has rarely publicly acknowledged them.
Malaysia’s deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the government was looking into the possibility of the involvement of “foreign agents” in his killing.
He told local media that initial investigations showed the assailants were “white men” driving a powerful BMW 1100cc motorbike.
Al-Batsh was a cousin of Khaled al-Batsh, a senior official in the Islamic Jihad militant group, who accused Mossad of the assassination. 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.