The April assassination of a Hamas engineer in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur helps show the increasingly significant role Malaysia plays in Hamas operations.
Fadi Albatsh, who helped the terrorist group build drones and rockets, was shot and killed while on his way to a mosque. Albatsh reportedly also helped facilitate deals with North Korea to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip.
Hamas has a significant presence in Malaysia and routinely recruits Palestinians studying there to launch terrorist attacks against Israel. An operative captured during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict told Israeli authorities that he, along with nine others, received paragliding training in Malaysia from members of Hamas’ military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. They were supposed to use that training to paraglide from Gaza directly into a southern Israeli town to launch an attack. Around the same time, Hamas recruited another operative in Malaysia with a doctorate in computer science. The operative served as a courier for encrypted messages for the al-Qassam Brigades.
Malaysia turns a blind eye to Hamas-related terrorist activity on its soil and anti-Semitism runs rife among the country’s top leadership. New Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad even said he was “glad to be labeled anti-Semitic.” At an Organization of the Islamic Conference Summit in 2003 in Kuala Lumpur, Mohamed called on Muslims “to strategize and then to counterattack” because “1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews.”