Hamas is actively recruiting Palestinians studying in Malaysia to join the terrorist organization, according to an indictment of Hamas operative Waseem Qawasmeh, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) reports. In a separate instance, a captured Hamas terrorist told interrogators he was sent to Malaysia, along with nine others, in order to train using hang gliders for conducting a terrorist attack against Israel.
Qawasmeh was charged in March with working with a banned organization and receiving money from it. In his indictment, prosecutors allege that Hamas directs Palestinian students and lecturers to engage in significant cultural and social activities at the International Islamic University Malaysia. Through these activities, Hamas operatives recruit and finance people to train in Turkey for future deployment to the West Bank and carry out attacks against Israel.
Israel's domestic intelligence agency believes that 40 Palestinian students were recruited to Hamas' military wing this way.
Qawasmeh's indictment refers to Hamas operating bases in Malaysia and Turkey and says Qawasmeh pledged allegiance to the group in December 2013. Ma'an Khatib, a university professor who is responsible for Hamas' operations in Malaysia, allegedly was present for the ceremony. Last year, Qawasmeh participated in Hamas' social activities program and was recruited to the Muslim Brotherhood by Mustafa Nijm, the head of Hamas' da'wah (Islamic outreach) committee at the Malaysian university.
Malaysian officials deny the allegations, but ITIC assessments accuse local Malaysian authorities of allowing Hamas to operate in the university.
Qawasmeh also received funds from another Hamas recruiter and was subsequently encouraged to partake in a Hamas financed training course in Turkey. After their training, recruits are sent to the West Bank to join Hamas' terrorist infrastructure in the Palestinian territory and carry out orders directed by senior Hamas officials in Turkey.
Hamas' international terrorist headquarters are based in Turkey and led by Salah Al-Arouri, a senior member responsible for enhancing Hamas operations in the West Bank. Last year, Israel uncovered an extensive Hamas plot to overthrow the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, orchestrated by Al-Arouri and other terrorist officials in Turkey.
Al-Arouri's Hamas connection and activities are well known to U.S. law enforcement officials.
Turkey, a NATO-member, openly supports Hamas politically and financially. It remains to be seen whether the United States or other members of the Western security alliance will apply pressure on Turkey to cease backing a designated terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel.