LAHAD DATU: Former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari (pic) is thought to be the unseen hand behind the spate of kidnappings in Sabah’s east coast.
His motives range from him needing money to flee the Philippines to taking revenge on Kuala Lumpur for handing him back to Manila after he fled to Sabah in 2001 following a failed rebellion.
Officials on both sides of the Malaysia-Philippines border are not ruling out the possibility that the 72-year-old ex-Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao governor, now a fugitive, has had a hand in the kidnappings carried out by former members of MNLF.
“There is a possibility that Misuari is behind it. They are challenging the defences. They seem to be targeting only Chinese nationals.
“Is it a retaliation to sour KL-Beijing ties?” an official asked when trying to assess a bigger agenda.
Although they admitted that Sabah was a soft and lucrative target for kidnap-for-ransom groups based in southern Philippines, Misuari or his men could be working with them.
Former MNLF members, they explained, were part of the Sulu armed intrusion of Kg Tanduo in Lahad Datu last year and were alleged to have been involved in three recent kidnappings.
Misuari – believed to be hiding in the mountainous Patikul village in Jolo Island after his failed siege on Zamboanga City in September 2013 – has many times threatened to take revenge against Malaysia.
Officials see the possibility of Misuari working through his loyal former MNLF members in Sabah with kidnap gangs and using existing Abu Sayyaf splinter groups in Jolo to negotiate ransom.
Many of Misuari’s ex-members –said to be living in Sabah coastal villages – were not happy with the recent Bangsa Moro peace deal between Manila and Moro Islamic Liberation Front brokered by Malaysia.
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