KOTA KINABALU: Police are hoping their Filipino counterparts will help bring arrested Abu Sayyaf kidnappers to face charges in Malaysia.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said police have received information that several of the wanted kidnappers had been arrested.
“I heard some of them have been arrested in southern Philippines. Now we are looking at whether we can extradite them back to Sabah to face kidnapping charges,” he said after a forum with Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS).
Asked if there were other Abu Sayyaf leaders apart from the elusive Al Habsi Misaya, who is high on the Malaysian police wanted list, he said there were a few more for whom warrants of arrest had been issued.
On whether the death of Muamar Askali @ Abu Rami and the surrender of Abu Sayyaf gunmen would end or reduce cross-border kidnappings, he said: “This is what we are hoping for. We hope that the aggressive military offensive (in southern Philippines) and pressure from our side will stop the kidnappings.”
He said that between 2000 and 2016, about 20 cross-border kidnappings and five attempted kidnappings had occurred, with 90% of the kidnappings carried out by the Muktadil brothers (five killed and one arrested last year) and the Abraham Hamid (who was killed in a shootout off Semporna late last year) group.
The kidnappings involved 33 Malaysians and 31 foreigners, he said. There are 24 hostages in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf but no Malaysians following the release of the five sailors last month.
On another matter, Khalid said 57 Malaysians, who joined the Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria, are planning to return home. He said eight had already come back while the rest were making plans to do so.
“Some of them whose husbands have been killed have married other IS militants. Their children are under the care of other IS militant families,” he told students at the forum.
Khalid said the groups were also using Sabah as a transit point to move to neighbouring countries. Students should be very cautious in accepting views on religion in social media and if approached by such groups, he added.
On the case of former Universiti Malaya student Siti Nor Aishah Atam who was re-arrested under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act last month, Khalid said she was still deemed as a threat and was constantly in contact with IS militants.
“She intended to go to Syria. Although many people claim she is innocent, we have done our investigations,” he added.
He said she had tried to contact an IS leader in Syria and had attempted to make a false MyKad to facilitate her travel to Syria.
The 29-year-old Siti Nor Aishah was a student of Universiti Malaya lecturer-turned-militant Dr Mahmud Ahmad, who has fled with four others to the southern Philippines.
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