KOTA KINABALU: The hunt for the remaining members of the Royal Sulu Force (RSF) militants is likely to be a major challenge for the police as they appear to be well embedded among Filipino communities in Sabah.
While little is known about the RSF, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) social sciences senior lecturer Wan Shawaluddin Wan Hassan said all indications pointed to its members being part of a “fifth column” in Sabah.
A “fifth column” is defined as a clandestine group of subversive agents or sympathisers attempting to undermine a nation by any means, he said, adding that although the militants were from southern Philippines, they appeared to have settled down in Sabah.
An indication that they have “blended” with the community was the Oct 30 incident in which two suspected RSF operatives, who were shot dead by the police at the Penampang Baru township, had been using a four-wheel drive pick-up truck which was a common vehicle here.
“They were driving around in such a vehicle. If it was owned by one of them, it shows that they can afford it and have the necessary income to do so,” Wan Shawaluddin said.
The two RSF members, he said, were likely to be from the Tausug community in southern Philippines.
Wan Shawaluddin said the Tausug community had settled in Sabah over the years and that the RSF members could be hiding among them.
He claimed the Tausug people were known for their loyalty to their leaders.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman had said the RSF militants were believed to be in the east coast districts such as Semporna and Lahad Datu.
He said one of the two Filipino nationals killed in Penampang Baru was a Sabah-based RSF leader.
Both, however, were identified as illegal immigrants with one of them holding a fake Malaysian identity card.
Police believed the RSF militants were planning to cause trouble in Sabah, as well as seeking to raise funds for their activities.
Jalaluddin said the RSF had links to the kidnap-for-ransom group led by the Muktadir brothers.
The brothers, Badong, Ali @ Brown and Nikson, are believed to be behind the gang involved in a spate of kidnappings over the past few years.
They are high on the police wanted list.