Slain lecturer hails from prominent Hamas family that 'lost 40 members to Palestinian cause'

KUALA LUMPUR: The Palestinian university lecturer who was shot dead by two men in Malaysia hails from a prominent Hamas family in Gaza that has lost 40 family members for “the Palestinian cause”, a senior Hamas official told Channel NewsAsia.

As tributes from Malaysian students poured in for the lecturer, Fadi Mohammad Al Batsh, Hamas believes he was killed because of his “intelligence and knowledge in electrical engineering”.

Hamas also acknowledged that the 35-year-old was a member of the Palestinian Islamist organisation that rules Gaza.

“Fadi comes from a very well-respected, well-known family in Gaza, a nationally committed family. They are also religious. They have sacrificed dozens of martyrs – men, women, children – for the Palestinian cause,” Hamas spokesman and senior official Basem Naim told Channel NewsAsia in a phone interview from Gaza.

“At least 40 members of his family have been killed through the years.  In 2014 alone, 17 members of his family were killed in one Israeli air strike,” Basem added. He did not elaborate on how the rest of the family were killed.

According to Basem, Fadi’s family is affiliated to “resistance groups like Hamas and Islamic Group” and that his cousin, Abu Musab Al Batsh, is the police commander-in-general of Gaza.

Asked about Fadi’s affiliation with Hamas, Basem said: “Yes. Fadi is a member of Hamas.”

Fadi was killed in a drive-by shooting at 6am local time on Saturday (Apr 21) as he was walking from his highrise apartment to dawn prayers at a local mosque in the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Gombak.

The New Straits Times (NST) quoted Kuala Lumpur police chief Mazlan Lazim as saying that CCTV footage showed the killers had arrived on a powerful BMW motorcycle and wore full faced helmets.

“One of the suspect opened fire from point blank range and killed him on the spot … he was shot on the body and head,” Mazlan was quoted by NST as saying.

Malaysian police are continuing with their hunt for the killers, a security source told Channel NewsAsia.


Fadi holds a PhD in electrical engineering from University Malaya and has been lecturing at a private university since 2016.

Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was quoted by Bernama, the national news agency, as saying that Fadi was “an electrical engineer and an expert at making rockets”.

Zahid also said that the killers were linked to a foreign intelligence organisation.

In a statement from the Gaza Strip, the victim’s family said: “We accuse the Mossad of being behind the assassination.”

Hamas has stopped short of accusing Mossad but said the evidence “pointed to Mossad”.

“We cannot be 100 per cent sure Mossad is behind this crime … it is too early but many links are directing towards this suspicion,” said Basem.

“It is not new for Mossad to assassinate Palestinians, especially those who are very intelligent,  especially those who are in the field of physics, electric engineering… a field which Fadi was working in and he was very intelligent. 

“I think this is a good cause for the Israelis to be worried, that when he (Fadi) returns (to Gaza), how will he use his knowledge to help others.”

Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since seizing the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to Western-backed President Abbas in 2007.

“If Israel is behind the killing, I hope Malaysia will put out a red line, send a strong message (of protest) via the US or United Kingdom as Malaysia has no diplomatic ties with Israel,” said Basem.


Despite the assassination, Hamas believes Malaysia is still a safe place for Palestinians who have received plenty of support from the people and the government.

“Despite this very tragic and painful event, we still consider Malaysia as a safe and secure country. We have a large number of Palestinian students doing their undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Malaysia, which (constitutes) a very important support for us,” said Basem.

Palestinian students in Malaysian are funded by scholarships from the Malaysian government and non-government-organisations.

“We in Palestine and Gaza highly respect and appreciate Malaysia for their well-known support for the Palestinians,” said Basem.

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