Report: Hamas Terrorist Eliminated in Malaysia Was Drone Expert

YERUSHALAYIM -
A poster depicting a Palestinian electrical engineer, Fadi al-Batsh, who was shot to death in Malaysia, hangs on a wall of his family house in the northern Gaza Strip, April 21. (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)

Fadi al-Batsh, the Hamas terrorist who was gunned down by anonymous motorcyclists in Malaysia over the weekend was a senior member of Hamas’s drone development team, Yediot Acharonot reported Tuesday. In a 2013 paper, Al-Batsh and two other researchers at the Islamic University of Malaysia discussed the use of drones in various capacities, and the addition of equipment to them, including “communications systems and image-processing tools and equipment.” The paper discusses the advantages of drones over bigger aircraft, and describes how they could be engineered to contain equipment for different purposes.

Al-Batsh was shot dead Saturday morning in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur by two individuals who rode past him on motorcycles. Local reports said that he was hit by ten bullets. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have accused Israel of being behind the elimination, a charge Israel has denied. Malaysian authorities on Sunday released what they said were images of the motorcyclists, but apparently have no further information on their identities.

The Yediot story said that the circumstances of Al-Batsh’s death were very similar to those of another Hamas drone developer – Muhammad al-Zawari, who in 2016 was shot to death in Tunis. Zawari was reported to have been shot in the head while he was in his car, at close range. Tunis police said that his body had been riddled with 20 bullets.

According to Israeli security sources, al-Zawari, a former Tunisian pilot who had spent a great deal of time in Gaza, had worked with Hamas for over a decade prior to his death. The sources said that he was the mastermind behind Hamas’s drone program.

Over the past year, numerous Hamas drones have been shot down over Israel, indicating that the terror group was set to expand its use of drones to conduct terror attacks, Israeli officials said. Al-Zawari was also involved in advising Hezbollah on a drone project that the terror group was developing as well, Israeli officials said. Hamas accused Israel of carrying out the shooting, and Tunisian media reports said that Mossad operatives had been following Zawari for months. Israel denied involvement in the shooting, and the case has never been solved.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Monday night accused Israel of eliminating some of the “brains” of his terror group. Commenting on the elimination of Al-Batsh, Nasrallah said that the Arab world “must condemn the murder by Israel of the Palestinian scientist and martyr Fadi al-Batsh. “The murder of al-Batsh shows that Israel will not restrain itself from killing any Arab who has any knowledge, experience, or expertise that could be used for the cause of the nation. The Israelis hunt down our scientists and academics, from Tunisia to Iran to Malaysia. They have killed some Lebanese geniuses in recent weeks and months, as these have died under mysterious conditions in different parts of the world.”