Assassination of Hamas ‘rocket man’ exposes spread of terror group

The killing of Hamas rocket engineer Fadi al-Batsh in Malaysia has raised questions about the growing presence of the terror group overseas.

By: Steve Leibowitz, World Israel News

Hamas confirmed that assassinated rocket-maker Fadi al-Batsh, who was gunned down in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Saturday, is indeed a member of the organization. The admission draws attention to the growing number of safe havens and terrorist training grounds that Hamas has been cultivating over the past decade.

Kuala Lumpur is home to a growing Hamas presence that allowed the Palestinian electrical engineer to operate unhindered by the local government. According to Israeli intelligence sources, Malaysia is used as a Hamas center for training operatives for audacious terror attacks. Haaretz reported that Hamas has recruited some 40 Palestinian students to serve as operatives on Malaysian campuses.

Israel has remained mum in the aftermath of the attack, while Hamas and other Palestinian factions placed the blame for the assassination squarely at the door of the Mossad spy agency. It also may not have been the first time Israel carried out such an attack outside its territory, with analysts pointing to the killing of a Hamas-affiliated scientist Muhammad al-Zawari in Tunisia in 2016.

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According to Hamas, Zawari had been working in Tunisia on the development of advanced drones and an unmanned submarine. Batsh, who has lived in Malaysia for the past eight years, was reportedly considered “an electronic genius” working on the development of rockets and new weapons systems.

Former Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told World Israel News (WIN), “We are not necessarily seeing Hamas terrorist cells.”

Ayalon calls the current landscape instead “a Hamas international network that is mostly used to arrange the smuggling of weapons and funds to the rulers in Gaza.” But Ayalon also points out that someone like Batsh was using the safe haven of Malaysia as a cover for his work designing weapons that are “more dangerous and accurate and carry more explosive power.”

Dan Diker from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs told WIN that Hamas has indeed become an international terrorist organization. “They are allied with the Muslim Brotherhood which is very strong in London and elsewhere. Their operatives like Mohamed Sawalha were behind the financing of the Mavi Marmara Gaza flotilla and even the ongoing ‘March on the Fence.’”

Diker says that Hamas has made great inroads in several Latin American countries and they receive support from the Iranian embassies around the world. “Hamas has also aligned with Hezbollah terrorists and they are both involved in drug trafficking to support their activities,” Diker said.

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Middle East analyst Amotz Asa-el told WIN that the Islamic fanaticism in Malaysia is more extreme than that of most Arab countries. He points to the legacy of former dictator Mahathir Mohamad who he describes as an extreme anti-Semite. Asa-el links Hamas international presence as directly connected to gaining access to the Iranian global reach.