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Abu Sayyaf's KFR activities could strike again in South-Sabah border (2 more Abus surrender in Sulu)

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The Islamic State (IS)-linked Abu Sayyaf group (ASG) could strike again in a bid to raise funds for kidnapping-for-ransom operations on the borders between Sabah and southern Mindanao island, authorities warned.

The warning comes from the Royal Malaysian Police and the lead agency in counter-terrorism operations.

This also developed after suspected Abu Sayyaf masked men armed with M16 automatic rifles snatched two Indonesian fishermen from a fishing vessel at Semporna, Sabah on Sept 11, 2018.

This is the first kidnapping to take place in Sabah in two years.

“The kidnappings are still occurring because these groups (ASG) are pressured to seek funds to continue with their (militant) activities as Filipino authorities are conducting clearance operations against militants,” Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, head of Special Branch counter-terrorism division, was quoted as saying by Channel News Asia.

Abu Sayyaf militants are forced to seek funds through kidnapping due to IS' call to arms in Mindanao, as well as the military’s operations against them, the Singapore-based Southeast Asian television news channel also reported.

ASG and pro-Islamic State groups (in southern Philippines) need money for their daily needs, mobilization from one place to another, procurement of communication equipment and weapons,” it said citing a revelation of former member of the JI militant group that has ties with Abu Sayyaf.

Ayob Khan said that the loss of IS core territories accross Iraq and Syria and its call on followers to go to Mindanao island to fight, “This in turn has diverted militants to southern Philippines who is also pro-IS."

No end in sight to pro-IS groups fighting in Mindanao. IS movement will continue with no end in sight as the death of one of its leaders, slain Abu Sayyaf Isnilon Hapilon, will be replaced by another, CNA report said.

Sabah is also a gateway for ASG members and other foreign fighters to escape from Philippine military operations to travel all the way to Peninsular Malaysia.

The news report said Abu Sayyaf members go to Malaysia to hide who are usually wanted in the Philippines and there are some of them who go there to get away from their past life with ASG, but they will still give their support to ASG.

Once in Kuala Lumpur, ASG members were reported to be working as security guards, labourers and members of a paramilitary civilian volunteer corp known as RELA.

ASG also tried to recruit new members in Malaysia to join them in southern Philippines. "Whatever happens in Philippines will impact on Sabah.  Sabah is a very important border for the whole of Malaysia and the Sulu sea."

The military's Western Mindanao Command WestMinCom) on September 16 announced three Indonesian fishermen held by members of the notorious kidnap-for-ransom group Abu Sayyaf were freed nearly two years after their abduction off the southern Philippines.

The Indonesians were released in the town of Indanan in Sulu and turned over to authorities following intensified military operations against the Abu Sayyaf.

The Abu Sayyaf, which has been known to behead hostages unless ransom payments are made, is still holding 11 hostages, including a Dutch bird-watcher abducted in 2012, a Vietnamese captive, and Filipinos.

Meanwhile, two followers of ASG sub-leader Idang Susukan voluntarily surrendered to the Army's 501st Brigade on 20 September 2018 at the Headquarters of 21st Infantry Battalion based at Barangay Danag, Patikul, Sulu.

The 501st Infantry Brigade is a unit of the 5th Infantry Division, Philippine Army based in Camp Bud Datu, Barangay Tagbak, Indanan, under the operational control of the Joint Task Force Sulu of the Western Mindanao Command.

The surrenderors identified as Albi Amirol Alih alias Albi and Obin Umod Mano alias Saip also yielded one M1 Garand rifle and a caliber .45 pistol.

They were presented around 9 a.m. on Friday, 21 September 2018, by Lt. Col. Jesus Pagala, commander of the 21st Infantry Battalion (21IB), to Col. Peter Angelo Ramos, commander of the 501st Infantry Brigade  a unit of the 5th Infantry Division, Philippine Army based in Camp Bud Datu, Barangay Tagbak, Indanan, under the operational control of the Joint Task Force Sulu of the Western Mindanao Command.

Albi and Saip were then taken to KHTBSH, Barangay Busbus, Jolo, Sulu for medical examination and debriefing.

Brig. Gen. Devino Rey Pabayo, Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said the surrender of two Abu Sayyaf members is another welcome development.

"More of them (ASGs) are finally realizing that it is better for them to abandon the illegal activities they are doing, para naman mabigyan pa sila ng pagkakataon makapagbagong-buhay," said Pabayo. -- Hader Glang




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