Malaysiakini News

Trail for two suspects behind Palestinian's murder goes cold?

Mohd Haikal Mohd Isa, Bernama  |  Published:  |  Modified:

The high-profile assassination of Hamas-linked lecturer Dr Mohamed Fadi Al Batsh in Kuala Lumpur last April has somewhat fallen off the radar due to the excitement surrounding the 14th general election and its shocking results.

Nevertheless, one cannot dispute the daunting task shouldered by the police in solving the murder and bring to justice two "Middle Eastern" looking men accused of committing the heinous act on a well-liked and devout academician.

The gruelling task of tracking down the suspects was made more difficult as the murder was probably the work of well-trained foreign intel operatives, who are not only highly-trained to carry out their mission, but also equipped with "escape and evasion" (E&E) tactics.

The E&E know-how would ensure the operatives are several steps ahead from their pursuers, thus explaining the difficulty faced by the police in tracking down the two elusive suspects.

According to inspector-general of police Mohamed Fuzi Harun, both suspects escaped to Thailand immediately after the killing, utilising the various illegal routes at the border to slip into the neighbouring country undetected.

Bernama in Bangkok was told by a reliable security source that efforts to track down the two men became considerably harder once they crossed over into Thailand, a country of 66 million people with various exit points, either legal or illegal.

"As far as this case (the killing of Fadi Al Batsh) is concerned, the trail went cold once they made their way to Thailand. Once in Thailand, they could be everywhere and the fear is, both of them have already left the neigbouring country for another country," he said.

Malaysian police might need the help of other countries besides Thailand, with months or years before they can see any breakthrough in their investigation.

The suspects, according to the source, could be using the many fake passports at their disposal to slip out of Thailand, throwing a spanner in the works of the Malaysian police.

Based on investigations carried out by Bukit Aman, the men had used fake Serbian and Montenegro passport to enter Malaysia, possibly in February, about two months before the assassination of Fadi took place.

Besides fake passports of the Balkan countries, the suspects also held fake travel documents of other countries, said Fuzi.

In another assassination, that of Hamas-linked drone expert identified as Mohammed Zawahri in Sfax, Tunisia in December 2016, the two Mossad agents accused of carrying out the hit job were reportedly using passports of another Balkan country, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The source also said, efforts to seek cooperation from the Thai police and Interpol to track down the two men were ongoing, following a visit to Bangkok by Bukit Aman's  CID deputy director (intelligence/operations) Huzir Mohamed on April 3.

This is despite plans for a meeting between Huzir and Thai police chief Gen Chaktip Chaijinda to discuss cooperation in the case failed to materialise.

According to a Thai police official contacted by Bernama, Chakthip was outside of Bangkok during that time and could not meet Huzir.

Meanwhile, the source who declined to be identified, also disclosed that the investigators are also looking into the possibility that the lecturer's killing was a result of an internal conflict between Hamas and Fatah, although nothing was conclusive as yet.

Internal conflict due to a bitter rivalry between Hamas and Fatah, he said, was another dimension the investigators were currently exploring, besides the more popular motive widely accepted by many including the victim's family in Gaza Strip, which accused Israel's spy agency of carrying out the killing.

The Israeli government claimed Dr Fadi was an expert on drone technology but it was denied by his close friends.

- Bernama

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