KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 28 — Malaysians were shocked by news reports earlier this month claiming that Israeli national intelligence agency Mossad was allegedly behind an attempted abduction of two Palestinian men in the country’s capital.
Many were stunned after it was reported that several Malaysians were the ones responsible for the abduction of one of the men, purportedly because they were acting for clients in the Zionist government.
Police have since thwarted the abduction and the Malaysians involved have since been arrested and charged.
Was Mossad really behind the attempt, and what would it want on Malaysian soil?
Malay Mail compiles what we know for sure so far about this case:
What really happened with the Palestinian?
The police have so far not divulged many details about the case, save that an abduction was attempted against Palestinian national Omar ZM Albelbaisy Raeda, aged 31.
State news agency Bernama reported that Omar had entered Malaysia on September 21 as a tourist, before he was abducted some days after.
He was reportedly rescued on October 5.
More details were presented when 11 individuals were charged in the Kuala Lumpur Magistrates’ Court on October 14, with Free Malaysia Today reporting that they were jointly accused of abducting the Palestinian man on September 28.
There were more details presented in several reports by New Straits Times (NST) on October 18, but none of these claims could be independently verified nor have the authorities endorsed the reports.
These included claims that Mossad agents had sought out the group of locals to track and kidnap Omar and another Palestinian man, both believed to be working for the Al-Qassam Brigades — the military wing of the Palestinian militant resistant movement Hamas.
Where did the abduction happen?
Omar was abducted by a group of men in a Toyota Vellfire multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) at Jalan Yap Kwan Seng here.
However, in court, it was revealed that the crime happened at Jalan Mayang, which is situated just off Jalan Yap Kwan Seng.
Bernama reported that Omar was rescued after police arrested 18 people in separate operations in Kuala Langat, Ampang and Beranang in Selangor and Melaka from September 29 to October 4.
NST additionally claimed that Omar was allegedly brought to be tortured in a chalet in Kuala Langat and faced online interrogation by Mossad agents, before the place was raided by the police.
Who were the Malaysians involved in the abduction? Were they Mossad agents?
A total of 11 persons were charged on October 14, which included 10 men: Edy Koim Said, Norakmal Hassan, Dody Junaidi, Tengku Arif Bongsu Tengku Hamid, Naziree Mustapha, Faizull Hardrey Isa, Iqmal Abdul Rahis, Sufian Saly, Al-Hatim Fauzi and Raibafie Amdan.
One woman was also charged: Nidarahayu Zainal.
Two more men have since been charged on October 26: Mohd Zaidi Mohd Zain and Tengku Hazarul Ismail Tengku Hamid.
It is understood that Nidarahayu, who runs a private investigation agency, and her husband Raibafie, masterminded the operation.
NST even claimed that Nidarahayu had been recruited by Mossad, but has not provided proof for its allegation.
The police however have cautioned against speculation over the so-called Mossad links.
“I can’t say whether the Mossad is involved or not because the investigation is still ongoing and the police are also not sure where the newspaper got such information.
“The newspaper report has created speculations and interfered with the police investigation,” Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Azmi Abu Kassim told Bernama, referring to NST.
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani also said speculation would only disrupt investigations and confuse the public.
A separate report by Al Jazeera Arabic quoted a “well-informed Malaysian source” claiming that an investigation had uncovered a “Mossad cell” in the country that was involved in spying on important sites, including airports, and seeking to penetrate “government electronic companies”.
The source said Mossad had allegedly employed Malaysian operatives trained in Europe to carry out the operation.
Following the arrest and rescue, Bernama reported that the Palestinian Interior and National Security Ministry had expressed its appreciation to the Malaysian authorities for rescuing its citizen.
In its statement, it said the police had “exposed members of a Mossad cell, pursue and track their larger network.”
Putrajaya has not endorsed this statement.
Why was the Palestinian abducted?
In court on October 14, it was reported that Omar was abducted to “deactivate a computer software and hack into mobile phones”.
This was confirmed by Acryl Sani, who reportedly said Omar was abducted “to obtain information about software used to hack mobile phones”.
There have been no details about the software or Omar’s specialisation.
NST’s unverified report claimed Omar was abducted because Mossad allegedly “wanted to find out about his experience in developing computer applications, Hamas’ strength in developing software, and members of the Al-Qassam Brigade that he knew”.
How did political parties react to it?
The issue was politicised after a post showing the couple’s profile photo with a PKR frame — indicating their support for the party — went viral.
Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin first questioned if Mossad agents had infiltrated the Opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan.
His party’s information chief, Shahril Sufian Hamdan, however cautioned against politicising the botched abduction case and hurling accusations against rival political parties on social media platforms.
“Mossad claims are serious if true, and shouldn’t be politicised when we don’t have the full facts,” Shahril told Malay Mail.
PKR’s information chief Fahmi Fadzil has since said that the arrested couple are not members of the party.
“I can confirm that the husband and wife who were arrested, Nidarayahu Zainal and Raibafie Amdan, are not members of any branch or division of Keadilan and have no connection to the party.
“The picture that went viral holding the Keadilan flag or anything else uploaded on Facebook are actions taken of their own volition and their choices do not reflect those of the parties,” said Fahmi on October 19.
Caretaker prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob later said that he will meet with the IGP and National Security Council director-general Datuk Rodzi Md Saad regarding Mossad operations in the country.
“Regarding the safety of this country, as previously mentioned, everything is okay. The public should not be worried,” he said.
The issue has now been picked up as political ammunition in the campaigning for the 15th general election, with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia deputy president Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu accusing PKR of being linked to Israel.
In response, PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim — who will face Ahmad Faizal in the Tambun seat — has proclaimed himself the “number one” champion of the Palestinian people in Malaysia.
When was the last time a Mossad operation took place in Malaysia?
In 2018, Gaza-born electrical engineer Fadi Mohammed al-Batsh was gunned down by two motorcyclists when he was walking from his home in Setapak to a nearby mosque for prayer at dawn.
Fadi was hailed as a “martyr” by Hamas, and was officially claimed as a member posthumously. It had claimed that Fadi was a member of the Al-Qassam Brigades and “a commander” there.
Jerusalem-based Times of Israel reported Israeli politician Avigdor Liberman, who was then serving as defence minister, had denied involvement in the killing despite claiming that Fadi was involved in designing Hamas’ missile systems.
“This man was no saint. It was not about improving the electrical grid or improving infrastructure and water... He was engaged in the production of rockets, in improving the accuracy of rockets,” Liberman reportedly told Army Radio at the time.
“Even if it wasn’t us, there’s no reason to shed a tear,” he added.
The Israeli paper also reported that Israel has a long history of conducting targeted killings of its enemies, both in the West Bank and Gaza and abroad.
It was reported that the Israeli security services formally disavow most operations. But former officials have extensively discussed its policy in public interviews.
In the past few years, Malaysia has been rocked by several abduction cases ascertained to be enforced disappearances.
Often used as a means to silence these critics, enforced disappearances usually involve detention and torture-style interrogations followed by the covert killing of said persons and the disposal of their remains.
In 2019, a public inquiry by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) found that activist Amri Che Mat and pastor Raymond Koh, who went missing on November 2016 and February 2017 respectively, were victims of abduction by state-hired agents.
A separate Suhakam inquiry between 2020 and 2022 found that pastor Joshua Hilmy and his Indonesian wife Ruth Hilmy, who went missing in 2016, were also victims of enforced disappearance, but could not prove “agents of the state” were responsible.