According to Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet, Hamas has been recruiting and training Palestinians studying in Malaysia, Haaretz reported Tuesday. The target students are West Bank Palestinians, and they are meant to serve as undercover operatives upon their return home.
Israel made similar claims last year, which Malaysia flatly denied, but this is the first time the Shin Bet has provided detailed accusations regarding such activities.
The allegations arose as part of an indictment filed March 18 in the Judea Military Court against Waseem Qawasmeh, 24, of Hebron, charged with belonging to and being active in a banned organization, making contact with the enemy and receiving money from an enemy. He was arrested as he returned from Malaysia via Jordan on February 13.
Qawasmeh himself was recruited by Hamas while studying at the Islamic University in Kuala Lumpur. He spent two years working for a Hamas charitable organization before being induced to join the Muslim Brotherhood by senior Hamas activist in Malaysia Mustafa Najam,in 2013.
According to the indictment, Malaysian recruits undergo ideological preparation and security checks. They are then sent to set up military networks in the West Bank, act as messengers between the territories and foreign countries, and carry out secret money transfers for Hamas.