KOTA KINABALU: Sabah police will be increasing cooperation and sharing of intelligence with their Philippines counterparts in light of reports that the state is becoming a focal point of terror activities in Malaysia.
"We will be stepping up collaboration and intelligence gathering with our counterparts in the Philippines to tackle this issue," Police Commissioner Datuk Ramli Din (pix) said after launching the first meeting between the state marine police and Philippine National Police-Maritime Group Tuesday.
Ramli said although it was too early to say that the state is a transit point for militant and terrorism activities – including the Islamic State (IS) – police were not taking any risks.
He said issues on terror groups, cross border crimes, details and procedures on the hot pursuit of criminals in Philippines waters were among the topics discussed at the three-day meeting until Jan 26.
It was reported that Sabah was becoming the focal point of terror activities in the country, with fugitive militant Dr Mahmud Ahmad leading an IS terror cell that has combined forces with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) to bring in recruits from all over the region into the state.
The cell is using Sabah as a transit point to bring in recruits from peninsular Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and even Rohingyas from Rakhine state to Marawi City, Mindanao in southern Philippines.
Marawi City is the stronghold of ASG, which is led by Isnilon Hapilon. The militants from all these countries gather in Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan in Sabah before the cell secures them safe passage to Marawi.