The Palestinian drone expert who was gunned down on Saturday had been trying to obtain advanced weapons for Hamas, the New York Times has reported. According to intelligence officials, the Hamas member was targeted by the Mossad because of his activities.

The suspects

The suspects Photo Credit: Malaysian police

Intelligence officials in the Middle East suspect that Dr. Fadi Mohammad al-Batash was targeted as part of a Mossad operation to obstruct the Hamas terrorist group’s advanced weapons program, the New York Times reported on Wednesday. The sources told the American newspaper that Batash was sent by Hamas to Malaysia, where he was killed, to purchase drones for operational use.

The officials also explained that the Mossad is extremely concerned by the terrorist group’s projects involving autonomous vehicles, noting that they could be used against Israeli targets and have a deadlier effect than rockets.

The New York Times report stated that one official claimed that Batash was involved in negotiations regarding a massive shipment of weapons with North Korea.

In the beginning of the week, Malaysian police released sketches of the two men suspected of assassinating Batash. Police chief Mohamad Fuzi Bin Harun said that the images show that the suspects are “light-skinned, which likely means they’re European or Middle Eastern.” He also stated that both have beards and are about 1.80 meters (5.9 feet) tall. The facial composites are based on descriptions given by eye-witnesses, Bin Harun added.

A few days later, police released another picture of one of the suspects. According to the Malaysian authorities, the suspects entered the country in January most likely using false passports and they may still be using the fake identities.