THE shooting of a Hamas-linked Palestinian scientist in Malaysia on Saturday has triggered a police manhunt for two men who are believed to be foreign agents.
On Monday, police released computer-generated photographs of the two men suspected of gunning down the Palestinian man in Kuala Lumpur, adding that alerts have been put out for them at all the country’s exit points.
Two men on a motorcycle fired at least 14 shots at Fadi al-Batsh, an engineering lecturer, in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, killing him on the spot.
Hamas, an Islamist militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, accused Israel’s Mossad spy agency of assassinating Batsh, who they say was a member of their group. Israel dismissed the charge.
The photographs of the suspects are based on descriptions by witnesses, police chief Mohamad Fuzi Bin Harun told reporters.
They show two light-skinned suspects who may be European or Middle Eastern, the police chief said, according to a recording of his comments heard by Reuters.
“The (men) are fair, well-built and have beards. (They) are approximately 180cm (tall).
“They were riding either a black BMW GS or a black Kawasaki Versys during the (attack),” he said, as quoted by the New Straits Times.
The photos showed one suspect wearing a helmet and glasses.
A forensic examination found that the victim died of multiple injuries to his head and body. Fourteen bullets were found.
“We will send some of the bullets collected to our analysis experts to determine what kind of weapon was used in this heinous killing,” Mohamad Fuzi said.
He said they were not sure whether the men were still in Malaysia.
“We (have) not ascertained this. (We) have to seek assistance from local and international agencies,” he said.
“We cant close off our exits and we don’t have any other information apart from the photofit.”
Fuzi said the photofits were done by police experts, based on witnesses’ statements.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said on Saturday the suspects were believed to be Europeans with links to a foreign intelligence agency.
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman dismissed claims of Mossad’s role in the murder and said it was likely that Batsh was killed as part of an internal Palestinian dispute.
Batsh’s family has requested for his body to be buried in Gaza.
On Monday, Ahmad Zahid said the Home Ministry has detected foreign agents abusing passports of countries with diplomatic ties with Malaysia to carry out “certain missions” in the country, the NST reported.
Ahmad Zahid said the agents came from a Middle Eastern nation with global network that enabled them to out secret missions.
And while the government was always monitoring foreign agents, Ahmad Zahid said this was sometimes made difficult when they use passports which have diplomatic relations with Malaysia. Due to its support for the Palestinian struggle, Malaysia does not have diplomatic ties with Israel.
“We have some difficulty in finding the culprits. But we will take an optimistic point of view and be confident that we will,” Ahmad Zahid said.
“We know of a country in the Middle East which will do anything to deny the potential of the Palestinian people. They target Palestinians who have certain expertise so that they can quell the possibility of an intifada happening there before it can even begin.”
Israel’s Mossad has been accused of several high-profile killings involving Palestinians around the world, although Israel has consistently denied the accusations.
The spy agency was accused of executing the murder of Hamas military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in his hotel room in Dubai in 2010. In 2016, Hamas blamed Mossad for the killing of a Tunisian national it described as one of its drone experts.
In recent weeks, tensions have been running high at the Gaza-Israel border as Palestinians have ramped up protests demanding the right to return to homes that are now in Israel.
Israel’s use of live fire, killing at least 35 Palestinians, has drawn international criticism. Israel says it is protecting its borders and takes such action when protesters come too close to the border fence.
In another mystery killing of a foreigner in Kuala Lumpur, two women, an Indonesian and a Vietnamese, are on trial for murdering the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by smearing his face with VX, a banned chemical weapon, at the airport in February last year.