Malaysian police seek more suspects linked to Israeli arrested with guns, ammunition

Iman Muttaqin Yusof
Kuala Lumpur
Malaysian police seek more suspects linked to Israeli arrested with guns, ammunition Malaysian Police Inspector-General Razarudin Husain speaks to reporters during a special news conference at police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, April 2, 2024.
S. Mahfuz/BenarNews

Malaysian authorities are searching for additional suspects, including foreigners, allegedly connected to an Israeli man who was arrested last week with a cache of handguns and ammunition in Kuala Lumpur, the country’s police chief said Tuesday.

The investigation involving the Israeli national – caught with six handguns and 200 bullets – needs to be multifaceted, Police Inspector-General Razarudin Husain told reporters. He added that weapons smuggling charges were being prepared and the suspect’s remand has been extended until April 7.

“We are in the process of apprehending more than two individuals, including foreigners and locals,” Razarudin told reporters at Royal Malaysia Police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. “We need to investigate the motives of the Israeli man in various aspects.” 

While Razarudin named the Israeli man in custody, BenarNews will not do so until charges are filed against him. The chief did not name or release details about the other suspects. 

The Israeli has been detained under sections of the Passport Act (1966) and the Firearms Act (1971) that carry potential sentences of death or life in prison.

On Saturday, Razarudin told BenarNews that police had arrested an unnamed married Malaysian couple suspected of supplying the handguns and bullets to the 37-year-old Israeli as well the man who served as his driver since his arrival in Kuala Lumpur.

Razarudin said the Israeli had paid the Malaysian couple 10,000 ringgit (U.S. $2,106) for each handgun smuggled from neighboring Thailand.

The suspect was arrested at a Kuala Lumpur hotel on March 27 after authorities received a tip. He had used a French travel document when he flew in from the United Arab Emirates on March 12, according to Razarudin. 

On Monday, Malaysia Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the suspect’s passport had been legally issued by the French embassy in Tel Aviv. 

He said Malaysia’s Immigration Act permits entry for individuals with legal travel papers, as he indicated no concerns about the document’s issuance by the French embassy and refuted allegations of enforcement weaknesses at Malaysia’s entry points.

During the investigation, the suspect presented his Israeli passport to police.

Malaysia, a Muslim-majority country, has no formal diplomatic relations with Israel and its citizens are barred from visiting unless they obtain special permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The Israeli Embassy in neighboring Singapore did not respond to BenarNews requests for comment about the case on Monday and Tuesday.

Crime connections

On Saturday, The Times of Israel, citing several Hebrew-language media outlets, alleged that the suspect had ties to an Israeli mobster family. It noted that news portal Mako alleged he was on a mission to kill the leader of a rival crime group.

Both syndicates have been engaged in violent clashes for months, as reported by Israeli TV Channel 12, which noted that the suspect’s residence in the upscale Bavli neighborhood of Tel Aviv was targeted in hand-grenade attacks by the rival group’s followers in mid-March.

While Razarudin confirmed that the suspect allegedly told investigators that he was hunting another Israeli citizen, the top cop noted that police did not rule out a different possible agenda.

“We are still investigating the motive behind the possession of firearms,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“We are also wondering why he was looking for one person, but carrying six weapons. Perhaps the police need to enhance the security for our VVIP, especially for the king, prime minister and others,” he said using an acronym for very, very important persons.

Six handguns, along with ammunition and other belongings that Malaysian police seized during their arrest of an Israeli national, are displayed, March 30, 2024. [Courtesy of Royal Malaysia Police]

Following the arrest and the discovery of weapons smuggling from Thailand, Razarudin said Malaysia was taking steps to enhance border security.

“The police, especially at the borders, have indeed strengthened our forces, especially those guarding the borders. This means that at our borders, we need to ensure that there is no smuggling or infiltration. 

“However, we know that Kelantan’s border is not fenced. The border is only marked by a river, and if we measure the areas where smuggling can occur, it’s about 100 km (62.14 miles) without fencing,” Razarudin said.

He said the river does not keep smugglers out of the country. 

“During the dry season, one can simply walk across the river without using a boat. So, we are enforcing security measures to prevent smuggling and ensure safety, whether it’s smuggling into or out of Thailand,” he told reporters.

Mossad agent? 

When asked if the Israeli served in his nation’s intelligence agency, Mossad, or if he had mentioned targeting Hamas in Malaysia, amid Malaysia’s support for Palestinians in the war with Israel in Gaza, Razarudin said police were investigating the matter. He did not elaborate.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has spoken out against Israel after it began retaliating for an Oct. 7, 2023, attack on the Jewish state by Hamas militants that left at least 1,100 Israelis dead. Since then, more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes and military operations in the Gaza Strip.

During his recent visit to Germany, Anwar criticized the “hypocrisy” of Western countries in dealing with the conflict in the Middle East. The criticism followed comments the Malaysian leader made just weeks after the original attack.

In late October 2023, Anwar refused to label Hamas as a terrorist group despite U.S. demands that Malaysia change its stance.

Six years ago, a Palestinian engineer residing in Malaysia, Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh, was fatally shot dead by “Europeans with links to foreign intelligence agency” riding a motorcycle near a local mosque in Kuala Lumpur. His family has blamed Mossad for his killing, which Israel denied. 


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