Malaysian police appealed for public help Monday as they released images of two suspects in the killing of a Palestinian engineer in Kuala Lumpur.
The militant group Hamas has accused Israel of involvement in the killing of Fadi Al Batsh, who was gunned down by two motorbike-riding men Saturday as he walked to a mosque near his home for dawn prayers. Israel has neither denied nor confirmed the claims.
Malaysia Inspector General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun said the computer-generated sketches were based on witnesses’ description of the shooters who were seen on security video waiting for the victim for almost 20 minutes outside a residential complex.
The sketches distributed to all police stations and border patrols nationwide showed bearded, light-skinned men of European or Middle Eastern heritage, investigators said.
“One of them has quite prominent facial features and … [is] heavily built,” Fuzi said.
The police chief said investigators narrowed down the type of motorcycle used by the suspects to either a BMW GS or a Kawasaki Versys. He urged anyone who might have information to come forward, but acknowledged police were not sure if the gunmen were still in the country.
A hospital post-mortem report showed Al Batsh, 35, was shot 14 times in his body and head, Fuzi told reporters, adding the suspects fired at least 20 rounds.
Al Batsh, a father of three, had been in Malaysia for more than seven years and held a Malaysian permanent resident status, officials said.
The University of Kuala Lumpur, which has more than 30,000 local and foreign students, said in a statement that Al Batsh was one of its senior lecturers and had joined its staff in 2016.
It said Al Batsh had a doctorate in electrical engineering and power electronics from the University of Malaya and received his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering from the Islamic University of Gaza, an independent school in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Hamas and Al Batsh’s relatives had accused Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, of having a hand in the killing, according to reports.
On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said his country had “no reason to shed a tear” over Al Batsh’s killing, according to the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz. He commented the killing may have been the result of “a settling of scores among terrorist organizations.”
Armed men in camo
Hamas did not disclose Al Batsh’s role in the Islamist militant group, but described him as a member.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that when Al Batsh’s family and dozens of others gathered in Gaza on Sunday, a sign outside a tent read: “Qassam Brigades mourns its martyred leader. The engineer Fadi Mohammed al-Batsh.”
The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades is Hamas’ military wing and armed members of the group dressed in camouflage attended the gathering, WSJ said.
Malaysia Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told state news agency Bernama on Saturday that Al Batsh was active in pro-Palestinian non-governmental organizations and was an expert in electrical engineering and rocket-building.
Zahid said he suspected foreign intelligence could have been responsible for the killing but did not provide any evidence to support his claim.
Hafidzi Mohd Noor, chairman of the Malaysian Islamist NGO MyCare, rejected Zahid’s claims.
“He was an electrical engineer and expert in power and electronics. Never a rocket scientist or drone expert,” Hafidzi, who worked with Al Batsh, told BenarNews on Saturday.
Fauziah Mohd Hasan, a representative of the Rose2Rose, an NGO that works with Palestinian women, told BenarNews she visited Enaas, the widow of Al Batsh, at their home in Kuala Lumpur hours after the killing.
“Tell me it’s just a nightmare when I wake up,” Fauziah quoted Enaas as saying.
She said the 30-year-old mother of three was inconsolable despite being surrounded by family and friends.
Anwar Al Agha, the Palestinian ambassador to Malaysia, told BenarNews on Monday that Kuala Lumpur has approved his request to fly Al Batsh’s body to Palestinian territories through Egypt.
“Preparations are being done. Maybe in two to three days. All we need is the approval from the Egyptian government to allow us to pass through,” Anwar said.
Malaysia, a Muslim-majority nation of 32 million people, has no formal diplomatic relations with Israel. It hosts a Palestinian envoy and about 3,000 Palestinians, mostly university students.
Malaysian officials have in recent years denied allegations by Israeli security services that Hamas operatives were training on Malaysian soil to carry out military operations against Israel.