LAHAD DATU: Is Haji Musa Abdullah, one of the key generals of the Sulu, dead or alive?
On Monday, security forces here confirmed that the body of Musa was recovered from Kampung Tanjung Batu after forensic investigations.
They said Musa's body was among 18 Sulu armed men that were brought to Lahad Datu Hospital for a post-mortem. His body was reportedly found near Kampung Tanjung Batu.
However, Abraham Idjirani, the spokesman of the self-called Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, claimed yesterday that Musa is alive.
“I talked with Raja Muda Azzi-mudie Kiram (the leader of the Sulu group) for 20 seconds on Monday night and he told me Musa did not die in a gunfight,” Idjirani claimed in a telephone interview from Manila.
What has emerged about this mysterious Musa is that he escaped the Jabidah massacre that ignited the armed Moro rebellion in Mindanao.
He was recruited as part of a President Ferdinand Marcos' covert military operation to seize Sabah in the late 1960s.
Musa, who is from Sibutu island not far from Lahad Datu, managed to escape Corregidor Island before the Philippines army killed his fellow recruits in the Jabidah massacre in 1968.
“Haji Musa is about 69 or 70 years old. He was one of those who escaped the Jabidah massacre,” said Idjirani.
“After the massacre, Haji Musa joined the Philippines army and he was assigned to the Mindanao conflict (in southern Philippines).
“Ten years later, he was assigned to the Presidential Security Guard (lead agency tasked in providing security to the President of the Philippines). He was never with the Moro National Liberation Front.”
Villagers who are close to Musa's relatives living in Kampung Sungei Bilis claim otherwise, saying that he was an MNLF commander and served in Vietnam while with the Philippines military and was a military tactician.
They said most of the people staying in Kampung Tanduo, Kampung Tanjung Batu and Kampung Sungei Bilis were related to Musa, whose daughter was married to a son of a former village head who has been in the forefront against oil palm plantations allegedly taking away village land.
According to Rappler.com (a social news network based in Manila), Musa was a known military strategist of the Sulu gunmen in Sabah.
“Musa is the deputy chief of staff of the RSF, a rank below Raja Muda,” it wrote.
“While the Raja Muda, an heir of the Sultan of Sulu, is the known leader of the armed Filipinos, it was really Musa who mapped out the plan behind the Sabah standoff.”
“It was Musa who taught us military rules,” Ibnohasim Akmad, a member of the terrorist outfit in Sabah, told Rappler.com in Simunul,
“He just taught us certain formations and then we were briefed about rules and regulations about the military.”