Boost­ing pa­trols off Sabah to guard against flee­ing Abu Sayyaf

New Straits Times - - News -

KLUANG: Malaysia will in­crease se­cu­rity pa­trols in the wa­ters off east­ern Sabah fol­low­ing the killing of wanted Abu Sayyaf leader Al Habsi Misaya by the Philip­pine mil­i­tary last Fri­day.

De­fence Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Hisham­mud­din Hus­sein said this was im­por­tant to pre­vent Abu Sayyaf mil­i­tants from en­ter­ing Sabah to es­cape the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions in south­ern Philip­pines.

“We con­firm that Al Habsi has been killed by Philip­pine marines in an op­er­a­tion in Jolo on Fri­day.

“The Philip­pine mil­i­tary has been in­ten­si­fy­ing their op­er­a­tions against Abu Sayyaf mil­i­tants lately, so it is im­por­tant for us to in­crease our pa­trols at the bor­ders to pre­vent the mil­i­tants from en­ter­ing Sabah to es­cape,” he said af­ter clos­ing the Health Min­istry’s “Ziarah Kasih Sayang” pro­gramme in Ta­man Sri Lam­bak here yes­ter­day.

Present were Deputy Health Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Ya­haya and Armed Forces chief Gen­eral Tan Sri Raja Mo­hamed Af­fandi Raja Mo­hamed Noor.

Al Habsi has been blamed for the ab­duc­tions of dozens of Malaysians and In­done­sian, in­clud­ing one who was be­headed. He was among 23 peo­ple wanted by the East­ern Sabah Se­cu­rity Com­mand (Esscom).

Esscom com­man­der Datuk Wan Ab­dul Bari Wan Ab­dul Khalid told the New Straits Times on Satur­day that 10 of the 23 peo­ple linked to Abu Sayyaf had been killed in gun bat­tles.

Coun­tert­er­ror­ism ex­pert An­drin Raj said while Al Habsi’s death would sig­nif­i­cantly affect Abu Sayyaf, it would not dis­rupt the group’s op­er­a­tions.

“The threat of kid­nap­pings re­mains high as Abu Sayyaf op­er­a­tives are still in Sabah.

“There is a strong link be­tween them and Ha-lipa, a no­to­ri­ous kid­nap­per from San­dakan. He sup­ported Al Habsi in kid­nap-forr-an­som op­er­a­tions and is still at large,” An­drin said yes­ter­day.

Na­tional Pro­fes­sors Coun­cil’s Pol­i­tics, Se­cu­rity and In­ter­na­tional Af­fairs Cluster sec­re­tary Pro­fes­sor Datuk Dr Ab­dul Halim Sidek said Abu Sayyaf op­er­a­tions might be tem­po­rar­ily halted fol­low­ing Al Habsi’s death but this would not be the end of the group.

“It’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore new re­cruits are re­placed.”

Halim said se­cu­rity mea­sures off Sabah wa­ters were not strong enough to com­bat the mil­i­tants.

“The au­thor­i­ties must win the hearts of lo­cals so they can feed in­for­ma­tion to the au­thor­i­ties.”

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