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Author Topic: 'Locals helping Abu Sayyaf'  (Read 987 times)

'Locals helping Abu Sayyaf'
« on: November 29, 2015, 08:48:52 AM »

'Locals helping Abu Sayyaf'
New Straits Times By ALIZA SHAH | New Straits Times – Sat, Nov 28, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: Abu Sayyaf operatives have been planted in strategic areas in Sabah, ready to carry out kidnap-for-ransom assignments the minute they get the “go-ahead”.

A global specialist working together with governments and enforcement agencies to combat terrorism in Southeast Asia has revealed that the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was getting a lot of “help” from locals and “assessment experts” (lookouts) stationed at airports, to identify targets among tourists.

Counter-terrorism specialist Andrin Raj, who is also the Southeast Asia regional director for the International Association of Counter terrorism and Security Professionals (IACSP) told the New Straits Times a Filipino group known as the “Knights of the Right Keeper” and based in Sabah was supporting the ASG, paving ways for the terror group to carry out kidnap-for-ransom activities.
“Besides having their operatives rooted in Sabah and areas outside the state, they also has a large network that allows them to tap critical information. ASG also have the support of local sympathisers and members of the Knight of The Right Keeper, who hold dual nationality or permits, allowing their presence here to go unsuspected.

“There are other operatives linked to the ASG operating from within the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) and other airports in the state,” he said.

Revealing the modus operandi of these operatives, Raj said they would monitor arrivals and through their network of communications would identify who would be their potential victim.

Once identified, he said, the operatives would provide detailed information on the targeted tourists’ residence and duration of stay as well as other |information to facilitate the kidnapping.

Raj said Malaysian authorities were on high alert and prepared to thwart potential attacks, knowing that the ASG would up their ante in their kidnapping activities, one of their sources of funding.

He said ASG, deemed as one of the most complex terror groups in the region, would target tourists as it was also a ticket to get international attention.

“Malaysian kidnapped victims are just a ‘collateral damage’.”

ASG, which has pledged allegiance to global terror group, Islamic State, is strengthening its foothold in the region and would want to have a strong negotiation platform.

“When they kidnap tourists, they think that they will get the attention of the international media,” he said, adding that it was plausible the ASG would start demanding higher ransoms if their next kidnapping attempt succeed

“Many countries have a strict policy on ransom demands and do not pay up as this will only increase the threat within the region. The targeted victim will depend on the group’s specific needs. If they want more money, then they will demand a high ransom. If it is politically motivated and they want international media attention, then they will choose targets from the West,” he said.

Raj also told the NST that the ASG might continue to abduct tourists from Sabah.

“They know fully well which states would meet their ransom demand and, yes, they will continue to take advantage.
Raj, who is currently in Turkey to brief Turkish officials and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on other global terror threats, said both Kuala Lumpur and Manila had long shared security intelligence, including deploying military officers at the respective regions.
He also underlined the importance of thwarting kidnap attempts before they reached Malaysian soil.

“All maritime threats starts from land and needs to end on land. Many of these Filipinos are moving in and out of Sabah to trade with ease.
“If the Malaysian authorities could confine trading groups in Sabah to designated areas, we can have better control of the movements in the state.

“The Philippines should also have a designated area for Filipinos to leave the shores from the South of Malaysia,” he said, adding that both Malaysia and the Philippines should strive to strengthen border control and share intelligence.

Disputes in the waters within the region, he added, also encouraged maritime threats such as piracy, armed robbery, kidnapping and other maritime security threats.

“These disputed waters carve the waterways between the regions for the ASG to operate as it allows freedom for these transnational groups to operate freely due to the fact that a ‘political’ dispute is still ongoing with relevant Southeast Asian nations and China.
“Militaries of these nations would not trespass into the disputed waters for fear of creating a military standoff.
“This allows the ASG to move from one area to another without any security intervention,” he said.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said they were well prepared to tackle potential threats and were currently all out to neutralise foreign and local terror operatives in Sabah.

“We are taking their threat seriously and neutralising them. The public need not worry as their motive is to instil fear.
“Kidnapping is more of a way to extract ransom to finance their activities,” he added.