May 28, 2024 | Flash Brief

Malaysian PM Reaffirms Friendship With Hamas

May 28, 2024 | Flash Brief

Malaysian PM Reaffirms Friendship With Hamas

Latest Developments

Speaking at a conference in Tokyo on May 23, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim defended his country’s relationship with Hamas. “Did I promote terrorism?” Ibrahim asked, referring to a May 13 meeting he held with Hamas leadership in Qatar. “No. I appealed because I have an advantage. What is my advantage? I know them. And they consider me a friend. A duty as a friend is to convey what’s best.” During the May 13 meeting, Ibrahim reaffirmed Malaysia’s support for Hamas, accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza, and expressed condolences to Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, whose sons — also Hamas terrorists— died in an Israeli strike. Ibrahim shared details and photos from the meeting on Facebook.

Expert Analysis

“Hamas’s 10/7 massacre didn’t start on October 7. The funding, training, and other support it received in countries like Malaysia allowed it to execute its murderous rampage in Israel. The United States must demonstrate that there will be severe consequences if these Hamas bases are not shut down.” — David May, FDD Research Manager and Senior Research Analyst

“In recent years, Hamas has demonstrated adaptability by leveraging relationships with nation-states to advance its strategic objectives. This has been evident in its partnerships with powers like Russia, which has allowed the group to amplify its global political influence. Moreover, countries like Malaysia have provided grounds for training to Hamas paragliders and drone engineers, further underscoring the organization’s ability to partner with countries to achieve its goals.” — Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Hamas-Malaysia Ties

Hamas has planned attacks and trained on Malaysian soil for over a decade. In 2010, Hamas reportedly sent operatives to Malaysia for hang gliding training — a technique that Hamas employed during its October 7, 2023 massacre in southern Israel. In 2012, Hamas terrorists trained in Malaysia for an attack they planned to carry out in Israel involving sniper attacks, abductions, and anti-tank ambushes. In 2018, Mossad agents gunned down a Hamas weapons developer in Kuala Lumpur.

In addition to using Malaysia as a staging ground, Hamas leverages the southeast Asian country to move funds. The Hamas-controlled Al-Quds International Foundation has a branch in Malaysia, chaired by Malaysian lawmaker Datuk Mukhriz bin Tun Dr. Mahathir — the son of former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamed, himself an opponent of Israel and outspoken Holocaust denier. Malaysian organizations, such as Viva Palestina Malaysia, likewise funnel money to Hamas. In 2020, an Israeli court indicted a Gazan imam for smuggling money on behalf of two Malaysian charities to Hamas in Gaza.

Kuala Lumpur Remails Loyal to Hamas

In the aftermath of Hamas’s October 7 massacre, Ibrahim said that his government had “a relationship with Hamas from before and this will continue.” The Malaysian prime minister further maintained on November 9 that Malaysia will not “punish the group as a terrorist organization” even if that that leaves Kuala Lumpur vulnerable to Western sanctions. “I will not accept any threats,” he said. On December 19 Malaysia banned vessels bearing Israeli flags and ships destined for Israel from anchoring in Malaysian waters. Kuala Lumpur also blocked Israeli company ZIM Integrated Shipping Services from docking in Malaysia.

Iran Uses Malaysia to Fund Terror Proxies,” FDD Flash Brief

Malaysia Bans Israeli Shipping Services,” FDD Flash Brief

How Malaysia Became a Training Ground for Hamas,” by Jonathan Schanzer

Issues:

Gulf States Indo-Pacific Israel Israel at War