The apparently premeditated murder of a Palestinian engineer and lecturer in Malaysia has sparked a series of accusations and denials between Dr. Fadi Mohammed al-Batash’s family and the Israeli intelligence agency, the Mossad.
At this point, it appears clear that al-Batash was associated with Hamas, and that his role within the organization likely ranged beyond the mere construction of electrical grids in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has referred to him as a "distinguished scientist who has widely contributed to the energy sector", going so far as to refer to him as a “revered…martyr”. Palestinian sources have described him predictably as a family man who had been living in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur for ten years with his wife and three children. However, it’s clear that somebody was intent on forcefully removing al-Batash’s influence from existence, as assassins can be seen on CCTV footage waiting for up to 20 minutes before striking.
‘According to reports in Malaysia, police believe that Batash was “targeted” by two people who were riding a BMW motorcycle and had waited for him to arrive at the mosque for some 20 minutes.
“This was a targeted killing and not a terror[ist] attack because there were other people at the scene but the assassins focused only on [Batash],” the police chief was quoted as saying, adding that “we’re not ruling out any line of inquiry, including the possibility that elements identified with ISIS are behind the assassinations.”’ (Jerusalem Post)
While the Malaysian authorities, whose Deputy Prime Minister also noted that al-Batash was in fact an expert in rocket building, are not ruling out different lines of inquiry, Batash’s family has concluded that it was none other than the Mossad who was behind the attack on Batash.
"One hundred percent, it is an assassination: Fadi had no enemies and is loved by the Palestinian, Arab and Malaysian communities and has pictures with the Malaysian prime minister. There are accusations only against the Israeli Mossad, and us, we accuse only the Israeli Mossad, and the Malaysian government should accelerate the investigation,” al-Batash’s father Mohamed told journalists.’ (BBC)
For what it’s worth, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has denied involvement in the incident, though he also made it clear that al-Batash was known to be far from the saint which he is being portrayed by anti-Israeli outlets to be. It’s al-Batash’s known involvement with Hamas, and their involvement with rival terror groups which is to blame for his death, not any plot orchestrated by Israeli intelligence forces, Lieberman says.
“We heard about this on the news. There’s a tradition at this point among terrorist organizations of blaming Israel for every settling of accounts…He wasn’t involved with improving the electricity grid or infrastructure and water. We have heard the announcements by the heads of the Hamas taking responsibility for the man, explaining the he was involved with the production of rockets, with improving the rockets’ accuracy,” Liberman told Ken Reshet Bet radio in an interview.’ (Palestine Chronicle)
One thing is for certain: based on this portrayal of al-Batash by one of the highest ranking individuals involved with Israeli defense, the man who was gunned down outside of a mosque in Kuala Lumpur is the sort of target that the Mossad would typically identify for assassination. The organization is all about protecting the Israeli people, and few individuals threaten Israeli defense more imminently than an engineer, known to be more than capable in rocket production, who was also known to make visits to the Gaza Strip to conduct his business.
The martyr’s sendoff which Hamas bestowed upon al-Batash, designating him as “a son of Jabalya the Mujahedin,” a term often associated with an individual engaged in jihad, doesn’t exactly help the argument that he was little more than a neutral lecturer.
‘“The Islamic Resistance Movement mourns the son of its sons, the righteous, and a knight of its knights, a scholar of young Palestine scholars and the guardian of the Book of Allah, the son of Jabalya the Mujahedin,” read the statement.’ (JPost)
The term martyr, frequently used throughout Hamas’ statements, also cannot be ignored for its common use in relation to those who die waging jihad. References to al-Batash as a “loyal” member of Hamas who was known for “growing closer to Allah and in his activity for the Palestinian issue” would also suggest that al-Batash was, as Israeli sources have purported, more than just an electrical engineer in his role associated with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
We won’t be holding our breath for any official admission of involvement by Israeli authorities. That has never been the Mossad’s modus operandi, and with a rare few exceptions never will be. But, it’s clear that both Hamas and Israeli intelligence sources considered al-Batash to be a threat to Israeli safety, as veiled as such admissions may appear. Batash was more than a lecturer, he was clearly involved with the struggle between Israel and Palestine, meaning that whether you believe the homicidal outcome to be deserved or not, he had knowingly put himself in the way of the fate that eventually befell him.