When asked to comment on the execution of Mohammed Alzoari, the Hamas terrorist and drones engineer in Tunisia, the Israeli defense minister said: “If someone was killed in Tunisia, he’s not likely to be a peace activist or a Nobel Prize candidate…. We will continue to protect our interests.”
“The al-Zawahri hit is only the tip of an intelligence effort that likely involved dozens of intelligence and operations specialists from the Mossad, the Shin Bet (the Israel Security Agency) and the Military Intelligence Directorate. They identified him years ago as a player in the efforts to develop advanced arms for Hamas and Hezbollah, as soon as he left Tunisia for Damascus. He was in close contact with Hassan Lakkis, the head of Hezbollah’s R&D weapons unit (who was assassinated, according to foreign media, by the Mossad under Tamir Pardo’s leadership in 2013). Al-Zawahri “carried” his ties to Hamas when he returned to Tunisia and was a key player in the drone unit that the organization has been trying to establish—with the hopes that it will also include suicide aircraft, like the “Ababil” which was supplied to Hezbollah by Iran.” [YNET]
Mohammed Alzoari was found shot dead in his car in the city of Sfax, Tunisia on Thursday, December 15, 2016. According to the reports, Zawahri was shot at close range with six bullets, three to his head, while in his car. The reports say that the assassin was highly professional and skilled, and didn’t leave a trace. Tunisia reporters added that the surveillance camera covering the area were rigged; an indication of a professional execution. According to local media reports, professionals hacked into nearby surveillance cameras, removed video footage of the killing, and replaced it with a different recording.
His wife Majdah Khaled Salah, told Al-Jazeera that “At approximately 1:50am we heard gunshots. I got out the door and started to run, I thought at first it was a gas explosion. But when I ran outside, I saw my husband’s car smashed in from the back. I ran around to the other side of the car, and I found my husband. I called out to my husband, calling him by his other name ‘Murad.’ I said ‘Murad, answer me!’ I put my hand on his heart and his clothes were full of blood. His phone fell into my hand. The bullet hit his heart. It was one bullet to the heart and another to the throat,” she recounted.
Zoari was an aviation engineer who specialized in unmanned aircraft. He was considered to be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia, known to be rivals of the local government. His ties to the group compelled him to leave for Syria in 1991, only returning after the overthrow of former Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011. According to news reports Zawahri was not living in Tunisia and only arrived from Lebanon to visit his family. His brother Radwan said that Mohammed Alzoari was working on a doctorate in engineering and was in the process of designing a submarine that could be steered remotely.
It was mentioned in the media that most-likely Mohammad Zoari’s development of unmanned submarines triggered his execution.
Hamas accused Israel of killing the engineer through its network of spies. It published a poster showing Alzoari with an unmanned drone in what appeared to be a training session. The poster bore the logo of Hamas’ armed wing and referred to Alzoari as a commander. Hamas claims it has surveillance and attack drones. It said it considers Alzoari’s killing a targeted assassination and vowed to retaliate. The Israeli military had no comment.
An associate of Zoari, Karim Abed a-Salam, told Tunisia’s Channel 9 TV that Zoari had visited the Gaza Strip several times in recent years, entering through the tunnels that run under the Gaza-Egypt border. He said that Zoari served as a liaison between Hamas and the Iranian and Syrian governments. It is currently unclear whether there is any truth to these claims. The Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper reported Saturday that Zoari had also assisted Lebanese terror group Hezbollah in the development of drone technology in the past.
As always, after a mysterious elimination of an enemy of the State of Israel, the Israeli defense forces did not comment on the accusations.
Following emergency meeting over shooting of Mohammed Alzoari outside his home, Tunisian government said investigations “point to foreign involvement”
Tunisian authorities released on Sunday the findings from the investigation. According to a Tunisian security official, the information and evidence collected indicates that two foreigners carried out the elimination.
In a statement Saturday, Hamas said that Mohammed Alzoari had been a member of its military wing for the past 10 years. Mushir Masri, one of Hamas’s leaders in the Gaza Strip, gave his condolences to Zawahri’s family during an interview on Tunisian radio. Masri said only Israel stood to gain from his assassination. He added that the Hamas will react to any action having to do with its military personnel.
Tunisia’s interior minister said on December 20, 2016 that journalists hired by individuals posing as a media company were entangled in the murder of an Tunisian engineer who the Hamas terror group said spearheaded its drone program. A Tunisian journalist told local investigators that she was hired by foreigners posing as a media company planning to make documentaries in Tunisia for a Malaysian TV channel, including one about the aerospace industry in Arab states, and asked her to contact al-Zoari as one of the interviewees for the movie.
The journalist said that she was paid 100 euros per day. She traveled to Tunis, filmed al-Zoari, and gave the footage to the company. In all, she received 2,000 euros for her work. Besides filming al-Zoari, she also rented a number of cars used in his assassination.
Tunisia’s interior minister, added that the planning for the killing took place over months, since at least June. Three days before the hit, a foreign man working for the media company contacted her and asked her to rent two cars, and told her to then leave the country the next day. The journalist was in Budapest during the hit, and only returned to Tunis after it was carried out.
The prosecution has said that 10 suspects, all Tunisians, have been detained for questioning, including a female journalist, and that authorities have seized four vehicles and two weapons.
Tunisia’s interior minister said that two Tunisian nationals living in Sweden were also involved in the operation. The two rented an apartment in Sfax to tail al-Zoari and rented four cell phones. “The organizers prepared two plans for two teams, in case one failed or was caught. The hit was planned meticulously and thoroughly.”
- Time of Israel
- ABC News