Shorts: A Murder In Kuala Lumpur

Hello friends!

This is the first of the promised shorter letters for the basic subscription model. These will probably be every fortnight or so (trying NOT to lock myself into a schedule here) and will typically look at things I’m personally obsessed with – not necessarily the biggest story in the region – which I can’t make a pitch out of for whatever reason.

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Erin Cook

Kuala Lumpur has again found itself playing host to a major international incident with the shooting death of Palestinian engineering lecturer Fadi al-Batsh on Saturday in the capital. “Preliminary investigations found four gunshot wounds on the victim’s body. Two bullet slugs were found at the scene of the incident,” KL Police Chief Mazlan Lazim told Reuters on the day.   

Al-Batsh was reportedly a lecturer at Universiti Kuala Lumpur and was gunned down while walking home from prayers. Police were unwilling to immediately tie al-Batsh to Hamas, but the group claimed a member had been ‘assassinated’ in Malaysia and representatives were set to talk with Malaysian authorities.

Hamas did not point the finger at Israel explicitly at first, instead saying al-Batsh had been ‘assassinated by the hand of treachery’. His family, however, squarely blamed Israel saying Mossad agents killed the 35-year-old.   

Wasn’t us, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told the BBC. Israel has blamed internal squabbles within Hamas, suggesting blaming the death on Israel is a way to detract from the organisation’s own trouble. “A settling of scores among terrorist organisations, among terrorists, among various factions, is something that we see from time to time. I assume that's also what occurred in this case."

Malaysia is treading carefully, but clearly believes the case is linked to Mossad. Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said over the weekend that the two suspects in the case appear to be of European descent and ‘to have ties with a foreign intelligence agency.’

This from Quartz looks a little further at the research al-Batsh had conducted and how that could have made him a target.