Malaysia Rejects Israeli Claims About Hamas Training

By Nani Yusof
150429-MY-hamas-620 Palestinian supporters of Hamas rally at Bir Zeit University, on the outskirts of Ramallah, April 21, 2015.

Malaysia’s deputy home minister on Wednesday flatly denied an Israeli newspaper article alleging that Hamas has been training Palestinians on Malaysian soil to carry out anti-Israeli military operations, a local publication reported.

“This is ridiculous, they are creating reasons to oppose Malaysia,” Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar told The Malaysian Insider (TMI). “You know this is what they [Israel] always do, when they dislike a country….”

“In fact, we [have] never trained military or militants here,” he added.

Wan Junaidi was commenting on a report published a day earlier by the Israeli paper Haaretz.

It cited court allegations by Shin Bet, one of Israel’s security services, that Hamas was training “operatives in paragliding techniques in Malaysia.”

Last year, Israeli officials came out with a similar statement, saying Hamas was conducting such training on Malaysian soil.

Tuesday’s report in Haaretz mentioned intelligence obtained by Israeli officials through the interrogation of a Hamas operative, who had been captured during the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip last July.

Later, Israel claimed that the prisoner “had trained in Malaysia to paraglide into Israeli territory to carry out murder and kidnappings,” the newspaper reported.

But Malaysia’s government rejected those allegations.

What is different about the latest allegations is that Shin Bet offered more details in court papers to back up the earlier Israeli assertion, according to Haaretz.

Hamas, a Palestinian militant group and longtime foe of Israel, is on the U.S. State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, but Malaysia is on record as expressing sympathy for the group and the cause of Palestinian statehood.

The Malaysian government has no diplomatic ties with the Jewish State but sends economic, humanitarian and other aid to the Palestinian Authority, which governs Gaza and the West Bank.

In response to the earlier Israeli allegations, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said in August that Malaysia had never cooperated with Hamas or other pro-Palestinian groups “other than in diplomacy, trade and culture,” according to TMI.

Hamas’s presence in Malaysia

Shin Bet’s detailed allegations were contained in an indictment filed last month in the Judea Military Court against Waseem Qawasmeh, a 24-year-old resident of Hebron who had studied at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) in Kuala Lumpur, Haaretz reported.

Israeli authorities arrested Qawasmeh in February as he returned home from Malaysia via Jordan. He stands charged of being an active member of a group banned by Israel, and making contact with and receiving money from an enemy, according to the Israeli paper.

“According to the Shin Bet, Hamas men in Malaysia actively recruit for military training Palestinians who are studying there. Recruiters also put the students through ideological preparation that includes joining the Muslim Brotherhood and Palestinian charities that operate there,” the article said.

“After their training, the operatives are sent to set up military networks in the West Bank, act as messengers between the territories and foreign countries, and carry out secret transfers of funds to meet Hamas’ needs,” it added.

Haaretz went on to report that Qawasmeh became associated with Hamas through its student association at IIUM.

He spent two years working for a Hamas charity and then was recruited to join the Muslim Brotherhood. Senior Hamas officials living in Malaysia attended Qawasmeh’s induction into the brotherhood, the paper said.

Sharp denials

After Haaretz published its report, Hamas officials rejected it.

"The Shin Bet's accusations… are baseless; they are mere lies," the group said in a statement on Tuesday, according to World Bulletin.

"The Israeli accusations are aimed at preventing West Bank [Palestinian] students from traveling abroad to pursue their studies and providing a justification for their arrest upon their return," Hamas added.

In Malaysia, Police Inspector-General Khalid Abu Bakar also strongly denied the allegations contained in the newspaper’s report.

"Even if there are Palestinians who came to study in local universities, they came as Palestinian students to pursue regular studies at any university," he told SinarTV, a Malaysian channel, on Tuesday.

No individuals or groups provide any form of military training to Hamas or to Palestinians studying in Malaysia, he added.


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