Malaysian militant linked to Abu Sayyaf abductions

KOTA KINABALU • Wanted Malaysian militant Amin Bacho is among the 40 remaining Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) gunmen who have joined the Abu Sayyaf group on Jolo island where they are believed to be abducting locals to fund their network in the east coast of Sabah.

According to intelligence sources, Tawau-born Amin, who escaped the Philippine military's recapture of the ISIS-occupied Marawi city last year, was in hiding in Jolo in the Philippines 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.

Last Thursday, the Ajang Ajang group, a sub-group of the Abu Sayyaf, abducted Mr Enrico Nee, a Department of Public Works and Highways engineer, in Jolo 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 the east coast of Sabah as targets.

The group also planned to carry out raids in Sabah waters but could not slip through the high level of alert put in place by Eastern Sabah Security Command, added these sources.

Tawau-born Amin, who escaped the Philippine military's recapture of the ISIS-occupied Marawi city last year, is in hiding in Jolo in the Philippines with his father-in-law, Abu Sayyaf commander Hatib Hajab Sawadjan.

They said that Amin, who is wanted in Malaysia for his involvement with Darul Islam Sabah, has also teamed up with Owayda Marohomsar, whose alias is Abu Dar - one of the key figures in last May's siege of Marawi City led by Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, who was later killed.

However, intelligence sources are divided over their intentions, 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.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2018, with the headline 'Malaysian militant linked to Abu Sayyaf abductions'. Print Edition | Subscribe