KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Wanted Malaysian militant Amin Bacho is among the 40 remaining Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) gunmen who have consolidated with the Abu Sayyaf group in Jolo island where they are believed to be abducting locals to fund their network in the east coast of Sabah.
According to intelligence sources, the Tawau-born Amin, who escaped the Philippines military recapture of the ISIS occupied Marawi city last year, was in hiding in Jolo island with his father-in-law, Abu Sayyaf commander Hatib Hajab Sawadjan.
The group has terrorised Sabah's east coast with numerous kidnappings in the past decade.
On Thursday (Feb 14), the Ajang Ajang group, a sub-group of the Abu Sayyaf, had abducted Enrico Nee, a Department of Public Works and Highways engineer, in Jolo island and handed him to Sawadjan, who is in control of 70 gunmen.
"So far, they (the militants) have carried out local kidnappings in Jolo itself but they are likely to look beyond soon," the sources said.
The intelligence sources said the group was eyeing shipping vessels and fishing boats at sea borders between southern Philippines and east coast of Sabah as targets.
The sources said that it also planned to carry out raids in Sabah waters but it could not slip through the high level of alert put in place by Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom).
The sources in Jolo said that Amin, who is wanted in Malaysia for his involvement with Darul Islam Sabah, has also teamed up with Owayda @ Abu Dar, one of the key figures in the May 2017 Marawi City siege led by slain Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon who teamed up with the Maute brothers.
However, intelligence sources are divided over their intention with some suspecting that they plan to carry out a siege of Jolo town in their bid to create an Islamic state following their defeat in Marawi city.