ZAMBOANGA CITY – Malaysian authorities arrested 5 Filipinos with links to both the Abu Sayyaf and Islamic State, and are being interrogated following their capture in separate operations in Sabah and Kuala Lumpur.
Two other Malaysians were also arrested by the police from March 8 to 12, according to a report Monday by Malaysian newspaper The Star. The identities of the Filipinos were not immediately known, but all of them are with permanent resident status and ages 18, 27, 31 and 53.
The report said two of the Filipinos were believed to have collected funds from Malaysian terror suspects Mohamad Joraimee Awang Raimee and Dr Mahmud Ahmad. And the third Filipino was said to have sworn allegiance to Abu Sayyaf chieftain Isnilon Hapilon, who is also the head of the local Islamic State in the Philippines. While the other planned to join the Islamic State and fight in Syria.
Filipino security and foreign affairs officials did not give any statement over the arrest of the Filipinos, although they previously said that the Abu Sayyaf is sheltering not only Indonesian militants, but also Malaysian and Middle Eastern terrorists with some of them killed while fighting alongside local jihadists in Basilan, one of 5 provinces under the restive Muslim autonomous region in southern Philippines.
President Duterte has ordered security forces to crush the Abu Sayyaf and other jihadist groups operating in the region and largely blamed by authorities for the spate of terror attacks and beheadings, including ransom kidnappings.
The Abu Sayyaf, which is actively operating in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, is still holding over 2 dozen mostly Asian sailors and recently beheaded the 70-year old German yachter Jurgen Kantner after his family failed to raise P30 million ransom demanded by the small, but the mostly notorious jihadist group in the Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)
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