Malaysia probes possible Israeli involvement in Palestinian’s abduction

Noah Lee and Nisha David
Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia probes possible Israeli involvement in Palestinian’s abduction Mourners surround the coffin of Fadi Mohamad Al Batsh, a Palestinian engineer who was gunned down four days earlier in Kuala Lumpur, April 25, 2018.
S. Mahfuz/BenarNews

Malaysian authorities are investigating whether Israel’s spy agency was involved in the kidnapping of a Palestinian in Kuala Lumpur in late September, a senior police official said Wednesday.

Eleven Malaysians were charged in court last week over the abduction after police raided a chalet and rescued the computer programmer, whose captors allegedly beat and interrogated him for 24 hours.

On Wednesday, police questioned the editor of the New Straits Times newspaper, which had exclusively reported the alleged connection to Mossad a day earlier, leading officials in Gaza to publicly thank Malaysian authorities.

“We are investigating the Mossad element in the kidnapping case. We have yet to confirm the agency’s involvement,” Kuala Lumpur Police Chief Azmi Abu Kassim told reporters.

Azmi was referring to a report by the New Straits Times where it claimed the Israeli spy agency was behind the abduction of a Palestinian in Kuala Lumpur on Sept. 28.

It reported that Omar Z.M. Albelbaisy Raeda, 31, was kidnapped by a group of people who allegedly wanted to obtain information about a software used to hack mobile phones.

The New Straits Times report alleges that Raeda was blindfolded and forced into a white vehicle before being taken to a chalet. Once at the destination, he was bound to a chair where he was “interrogated and beaten by the Malaysian operatives when his answers were not to the Israelis’ satisfaction.”

Since the story broke, Malaysian media have reported that police arrested 11 suspects. These include a woman who appeared at the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate Court on Oct. 14, where the suspects were charged with kidnapping.

The New Straits Times also alleged that Mossad ran a spy ring in Malaysia, headed by a local woman who works as a private investigator and was recruited by the agency in 2018 and sent overseas for espionage training.

On Tuesday, Inspector-General of Police Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani confirmed that the 11 were suspects in the abduction of a Palestinian, but without naming Raeda. He did not comment about allegations of Mossad involvement, but urged people to not speculate about the case, which could jeopardize the police investigation and confuse the public.

Additionally, Malaysian officials did not comment on whether the woman arrested and the woman who allegedly headed the spy ring were the same person.

Earlier that day, the Palestinian Ministry of Interior and National Security issued a statement to thank Malaysian authorities.

“The Palestinian Ministry of Interior and National Security appreciates the great efforts made by the Malaysian authorities in rescuing a Palestinian citizen of the Gaza Strip who was kidnapped in Malaysia by the Israeli occupation through its Mossad agents. In addition, they were able to expose the members of the Mossad cell and pursue and track their larger network.

“At the same time, we thank the Malaysian police and security services, we firmly denounce this blatant crime committed by the Israeli occupation against one of our Palestinian people in Malaysia, and we call for the perpetrators to be held accountable and sentenced,” it said.

Not unusual

A security analyst said it was not unusual for the Israeli intelligence agency to target Palestinians abroad, especially those with ties to the Hamas militant group.

“If it is said that the thwarted kidnapping was an act of desperation, then such a move is not something new for Mossad. Israel has always viewed Palestinians, especially those with ties to the Hamas movement, as a potential threat,” Bakri Mat, an associate professor at Universiti Utara Malaysia, told BenarNews.

“Mossad operatives have previously been linked to a series of assassinations and targeted killings of Hamas operatives abroad, such as in Malaysia in 2018, and in Qatar in 2010.”

Still, he said, this incident would not make Palestinians feel less safe in Malaysia.

“What is more important, the security authorities need to be on alert at all times,” he said.

In April 2018, a Palestinian engineer named Fadi Mohamad Al Batsh, who was allegedly linked to Hamas, was gunned down in Kuala Lumpur. Hamas accused Mossad of the killing, but no suspect has been arrested.

A father of three, Al Batsh had been in Malaysia for more than seven years and held Malaysian permanent resident status, officials said shortly after his killing.

Malaysia, a Muslim-majority country of nearly 33 million people, has no diplomatic ties with Israel. The nation hosts a Palestinian envoy and about 3,000 Palestinians, mostly university students.

In recent years, officials in Kuala Lumpur have denied Israeli allegations that Hamas operatives were training on Malaysian soil to carry out military operations against the Jewish state.

Muzliza Mustafa in Kuala Lumpur contributed to this report.


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