PDRM Arrest 8 Terrorists Who Escaped To Sabah From The Philippines

Two of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group members are wanted by the Philippine government for armed conflicts with the country's marine forces.

Cover image via Sinar Harian & Bernama

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Sabah police arrested eight Filipino members of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group during a special operation in Beaufort, Sabah last Saturday, 8 May

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hazani Ghazali said the eight members of the terror group were detained alongside 29 other Philippine nationals at a mangrove swamp area near Taman Sri Arjuna, Beaufort, reported Bernama.

The operation was conducted by police and the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) at 3am on Saturday, 8 May.

The 37 individuals detained consisted of eight men, eight women, and 21 children, reported New Straits Times.

Hazani said an investigation has found that two of the Abu Sayyaf group members are wanted by the Philippine government

He added that,"We have checked with the Philippine security forces, and they confirmed that the eight men are members of the Abu Sayyaf group who escaped to Sabah following an operation conducted by the security forces in the southern part of the country."

Hazani told a media conference at the Sabah police contingent headquarters yesterday, 10 May, that preliminary investigations determined that those arrested, however, were not involved in kidnap for ransom in Sabah.

It is believed that they were using the state as a hiding place.

The two individuals wanted by the Philippine government were previously involved in battles against the country's security forces. They were also behind the kidnapping of foreigners in the Philippines.

"The duo were involved in an armed conflict with Philippine marine security forces at the Bud Bawis Complex in Panamo Sulu in 2011, 2018, 2019, and the latest in November 2020," New Straits Times quoted Hazani as saying.

Photos of the suspects detained by authorities during the operation last Saturday.

Image via Daily Express

Hazani said that police will be examining if any separate terrorist cells connected to Abu Sayyaf and Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) have been established in Sabah

Those arrested will be remanded for seven days from the time of arrest, the police commissioner mentioned.

"We seized from them several documents including temporary Malaysian identification receipts believed to be fake," he said.

It was reported that they had also allegedly smuggled firearms from the Philippines, but the authorities were unable to find the weapons as of yet.

Hazani said that, "We want to know who their established contacts are in Sabah. Legal action will be taken against anyone found in cahoots with them."

He also added that the operation was a success due to the cooperation between the police, Esscom, and the Philippine security forces.

Image used for illustration purposes only.

Image via Bangkok Post

The police commissioner urges local employers to do background checks on workers when recruiting them in order to determine if they are former terrorists

"I would urge all village heads and communities to identify their fellow villagers and to report anything suspicious to the authorities so that we can conduct examinations together," he added.

According to Hazani, all district police chiefs will continue to work together with local authorities in order to take action against illegal settlements in Sabah. He added that 624 illegal settlements have been identified so far, with 90% of them being water villages.

Esscom and police will be strengthening security control — especially at sea — to prevent the entering of illegal immigrants, he said.

He mentioned that 83 terrorists have been detained by Sabah police and security forces between 2014 and last year.

Due to the tight security imposed by Esscom in the east coast of the state, most of them have been found taking refuge in the interior of Sabah west coast.

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