ZAMBOANGA CITY – Malaysia is holding a dozen Filipinos, including a woman, who are suspected as terrorists or protecting terrorists in Sabah.
Police Inspector-General Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun announced the capture of the suspects on Monday following their arrest in Semporna and Tambunan during two days of anti-terrorism operations launched by the Special Branch and the VAT 69 Commando Unit, according to the official Malaysia news agency Bernama.
“All of them were arrested on suspicion of being members of one of several terrorist groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Maute and Royal Sulu Force (RSF). Some of them are suspected to have given protection to terrorist elements believed to be in hiding in Sabah,” he said.
He said police arrested 5 Filipinos and Malaysian citizens, aged between 40 and 60, in Semporna on March 11. “Four of them are suspected to have been involved in the Maute terrorist group siege of Marawi City, Philippines, in 2017. They are also suspected to have given protection to Maute terrorist elements and several Middle Eastern nationals believed to be hiding in Sabah,” he said, adding, two others are suspected to be members of the RSF involved in 2013 attacks in Lahad Datu and Semporna.
He added that those arrested were also allegedly recruiting Filipinos in Sabah to join the RSF, and that two other suspects – who fled to the southern Philippines after security forces battled RSF fighters – sneaked into Sabah November last year to revive their activities in the oil-rich state.
Harun said that also on March 11, the police arrested 5 Filipinos and a Filipina, aged between 23 and 63, in Tambunan.
“One of the suspects, a construction laborer, is suspected to be a member of the ASG that was involved in the attack on Marawi City. The suspect sneaked into Sabah in December last year to escape the Philippine military operations. The five others are suspected to have given shelter to ASG and Maute terrorist elements who are still free,” he said.
“With these arrests, the police believe they can trace and hunt the remnants of the ASG and Maute members suspected to be hiding in the country, especially in Sabah,” he added.
There was no immediate statement either from the Philippine military or Foreign Affairs on the arrest of the Filipinos. (Mindanao Examiner)
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