The report cites Western and Middle Eastern intelligence officials to support the claim that Albatsh “may have been involved in negotiating North Korean arms deals through Malaysia.”
One of the intelligence officials added that Albatsh had helped broker the deal, which was exposed by Egypt when it recently seized a shipment of North Korean communications components used for guided munitions that were being transported to the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.
The Middle Eastern intelligence officials, the report continues, added that the killing was part of a broader operation headed by the Mossad chief, Yossi Cohen, aimed at subverting a Hamas program that entails the participation of Gaza’s foremost scientific experts in overseas projects “to gather know-how and weaponry to fight Israel.”
Albatsh, 35, who co-authored an academic essay on the use of drones, was dispatched to Malaysia to research and purchase drones for his terror group back home.
According to officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the Israeli intelligence agency has attached particular importance to monitoring Hamas’s clandestine drone project, which focuses on aerial and underwater vehicles capable of upgrading Gaza’s strategic offensive capabilities by enabling more accurate and effective homing in on Israeli targets than the rockets utilized in the last military conflicts.
Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim-populated country, has backed the Palestinian cause throughout the years, has no diplomatic relations with Israel and its prime minister, Najib Razak, visited Gaza in 2013. The intelligence officials speaking to the New York Times said that Hamas began to see Malaysia as an ideal location to advance its research ambitions.
In 2010, the country served as a training ground for Palestinian paragliders who were being prepared for use in future attacks on Israel, according to a statement cited in the report by the Israeli secret service. Malaysian officials denied any involvement in such a plot.
The hit on Albatsh was not, however, the first attempt on his life, the report claims. “Mr. Albatsh told friends in Malaysia that he had narrowly avoided an attempt on his life while still living in Gaza,” it says. “In 2014, his uncle, Tayseer Albatsh, the Gaza police chief, was nearly killed by Israeli airstrikes. Eighteen members of the Batsh family died in those raids.”