AFTER months of official denial, the military admitted on Friday that at least five Malaysian jihadists, believed to be affiliated with the Islamic State in
Syria and Iraq (ISIS), were seen accompanying
Abu Sayyaf bandits in Mindanao.
Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said the five Malaysians were seeon on two occasions in Tuburan, Basilan and Patikul, Sulu at the height of a military operation in the areas.
Cabunoc identified one of the five Malaysian jihadists as a certain Amin Bago who was with the ASG leader Isnilon Hapilon and Hatib Sawadjaan, another notorious bandit responsible for the killing of dozens of army soldiers in Sulu last year.
“We have monitored the presence of foreign jihadists in
Island since last year,” Cabunoc said,
reversing the military’s announced position last year that the ISIS did not
have a presence in Mindanao.
One of the foreign jihadists is a a member of the Malaysian Special Forces who has gone absent without leave, similar to Malaysian terrorist Julkiflu Abdhir, who was slain in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January.
Since 2013, Malaysian authorities have asked Philippine authorities to interdict the five terrorists linked to ISIS after they infiltrated the porous borders between
Malaysia and the . Philippines
The five jihadists were identified by Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Hamidi as
lecturer Dr. Mahmud Ahmad,
stationary shop owner Mohamad Najib Husen, former Selayang Municipal Council
employee Muhammad Joraimee Awang Raimee, Darul Islan Sabah members Mohamad Amin
Baco and Jeknal Adil. University of Malaya
Hamidi said the five militants are associated with Daulah Islamiyah Asia Tenggara (Southeast Asia Islamiya Network) which has links to
Last year, Hapilon and the late Basit Usman, the Filipino henchman of Malaysian terrorist Abdhir, pledged allegiance to
ISIS in videos
posted on YouTube, but Cabunoc claimed “their actual membership or affiliation
is not establish as of today.”
Cabunoc also revealed that one of the Malaysian jihadists is training Abu Sayyaf bandits in bomb-making in an underground factory somewhere in the outskirts of Tuburan, Basilan, which was eventually seized by security forces from the Army’s Third Scout Ranger Battalion and the 18th Infantry Battalion last May.
“These bombs were trace to a group of foreign jihadists and there was one Malaysian who was identified with (the Abu Sayyaf) and they were able to escape but the bomb factory was seized,” Cabunoc said.
The Malaysian’s militants, Cabunoc said have also been engaged alongside with the Abu Sayyaf in a fight with the military in April that resulted to numerous injuries to the Abu Sayyaf.
“Some of them went to Sulu to join the fight with Radulan Sahiron. At least two or three of them went to Sulu [but] we are not sure if they came back in Basilan,” Cabunoc said.