A top-level Hamas delegation is attending the Kuala Lumpur Summit, a gathering of Islamist leaders in Malaysia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad also are attending.
The conference gives Hamas an opportunity to argue for the Palestinian cause, said Muslem Amran, the terrorist group's representative in Malaysia.
A photo posted on Twitter shows Hamas leaders including political bureau member Mousa Abu Marzook and includes his colleagues Khalil Al-Hayya, Izzt Al-Rashiq and Husam Badran posing for a photo with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Ironically, Mahathir complained that Muslim countries are associated with terrorism.
"For far too long we have been associated with bad governance, endemic corruption and a breeding place for terrorism," Mahathir wrote. "We can keep on shouting that such labels, especially being breeders of terrorism as callous anti-Islam propaganda. We know that it is really true but our weakness and disunity have given credence to this propaganda."
A Hamas communique notes that the terrorist group's delegation attended at Mahathir's invitation.
Relations between Hamas and Malaysia have tightened since Mahathir became prime minister in 2018. Mohamad has a history of anti-Semitic statements.
"I am glad to be labeled anti-Semitic [...] How can I be otherwise, when the Jews who so often talk of the horrors they suffered during the Holocaust show the same Nazi cruelty and hard-heartedness towards not just their enemies but even towards their allies should any try to stop the senseless killing of their Palestinian enemies," the Times of Israel reported Mahathir wrote on his blog in 2012.
Malaysia has been a focal point for Hamas operations in Southeast Asia. Hamas raised millions in Malaysia, and the country has allowed Hamas terrorists to train on its soil.
Pakistan boycotted the meeting following consultation with Saudi Arabia, which objected to what it saw as an effort by Turkey, Qatar and Malaysia to replace the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Egypt and Saudi Arabia also boycotted the summit.
Hamas' involvement in the multi-day conference reaffirms its firm place within the Turkish-Qatari axis and serves as a reminder of Malaysia's support for the terrorist group.