Friday, January 31, 2020

Malaysian terrorists, Abu Sayyaf tagged in Sabah kidnappings

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jan 31, 2020): Malaysian terrorists, Abu Sayyaf tagged in Sabah kidnappings

MALAYSIAN TERRORISTS have joined forces with the pro-ISIS group Abu Sayyaf and are believed to be involved in the spate of ransom kidnappings off Sabah near the Philippine border of Tawi-Tawi province.

Sabah Deputy Home Minister Azis Jamman has confirmed the reports and said members of a Malaysian terror group are in cahoots with the Abu Sayyaf, according to Free Malaysia Today.

Jamman said police had first established this in 2018 after the capture of 7 Abu Sayyaf fighters and a Malaysian national in separate areas in Putrajaya City, south of Kuala Lumpur, and in Tenom, Ranau and Kinarut in Sabah.

“The authorities are aware of this link after these suspects were detained. The police had then issued a statement that the terrorists were in contact with their partners who are active in Sabah,” he told Free Malaysia Today.

Malaysian policemen arresting a suspected terrorist in 2018. Locals are believed to be working with Abu Sayyaf terrorists in abducting people from Sabah to demand ransom. (Photo by Bernama)
The report said Bukit Aman Special Branch’s counter-terrorism division had arrested eight men between in November 2018. The first to be captured was a 38-year-old man in Putrajaya, who was accused of channelling funds to Malaysian Islamic State militant Akel Zainal in Syria.

The second round of arrests involved 3 Abu Sayyaf members and a 60-year-old trader who harbored a wanted militant four days earlier. All the suspects are now being held under the Security Offences Special Measures Act 2012.

“We are now monitoring them and our intelligence units have also redoubled their efforts to identify others still operating in Sabah,” Jamman said.

Just recently, Abu Sayyaf militants kidnapped 5 Indonesian fishermen off Tambisan Island near Sabah’s Lahad Datu town and were believed taken to Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the restive Muslim autonomous region in southern Philippines.

The fishermen have been identified as skipper Arsyad Abdullah, and crew members 41; La Baa, 32; Riswanto Hayano, 27; Edi Lawalopo, 53; and Syarizal Kastamiran, 29, - all based in Sandakan. They were snatched from the same area where the Abu Sayyaf captured 3 Indonesian fishermen in September last year and brought to Sulu. The trio - Muhammad Farhan, 27, Samiun Maneu, 26, and Maharudin Lunani, 26, were all rescued separately by Filipino troops in Sulu.

Jakarta accused Malaysian authorities of failing to protect its citizens in Sabah. “We truly regret that this sort of incident keeps repeating. It seems to have been caused by ineffective coordination among Malaysian authorities, among other things,” Deputy Foreign Minister Mahendra Siregar was reported as saying by The Jakarta Post.

Anti-Sayyaf ops

Late last month, Filipino troops killed 5 Abu Sayyaf militants in separate clashes in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu where security operations against the pro-ISIS group continue.

Officials said four gunmen were killed in the fighting that also injured a soldier in the village of Lakit-Lakit in Tawi-Tawi’s Sapa-Sapa town after Marine soldiers tracked down the gang. The slain militants were linked by the military to ransom kidnappings off Sabah and Indonesia and had been in the list of notorious drug dealers.

“The group is also known as conduits of Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf group conducting kidnapping operations in the tri-boundary of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. The neutralized enemies are notorious drug personalities positively identified by the local government of Sapa-Sapa,” said Brig. Gen. Camilo Balutan, commander of the anti-terror Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi.

He said troops from the Marine Battalion Landing Team 6 and 64th Marine Company clashed with about 10 gunmen. The others managed to escape during the fighting that killed Oyong Maulana, Datu Solon Maulana, Rashida Maulana, and Nhadz Omar.
Balutan said soldiers recovered two packets of suspected crystal meth and a rifle, including ammunition and two cell phones.

In neighboring Sulu, one Abu Sayyaf fighter was also killed after helicopter gunships pounded a terrorist hideout on Sulare Island off the town of Parang after civilians tipped off the military on the location of the militants.

Members of the US-trained elite Army Light Reaction Company and Naval Special Operations Group recovered the body of the gunman after the air assaults, according to Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr, commander of anti-terror Joint Task Force Sulu.

“Once again, the Abu Sayyaf group has no safe place here in Sulu now that Tausugs are working actively hand in hand in promoting peace in this area,” he said, adding, “this operation was successfully achieved in collaboration with the local government of Sulu.”

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, lauded the soldiers for their “very remarkable accomplishments” in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu. He said the operations against the Abu Sayyaf continue in the South. “Our troops are in pursuit of the remaining members of the group who managed to escape. We are working round-the-clock to ensure the safety and security of the people in our area of operations,” Sobejana said. (Mindanao Examiner)

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