KUALA LUMPUR: Hajar Abdul Mubin, also known as Abu Asrie, came to Kuala Lumpur to escape the Abu Sayyaf group, according to his sister Rosmawati, 22.
She did not deny her elder brother had been involved with the militant group, but said that he left his old life in southern Philippines two years before his arrest to try to build a new one here.
“If you leave the Abu Sayyaf group, they will kill you,” she said.
“So he made the choice. If he stayed in the Philippines and they found him, they would kill him. So he escaped here,” she told The Star at the Desa Baiduri flats in Cheras.
She said he had come to Kuala Lumpur with the intention of changing his life.
“He got married two years ago and now has a five-month-old daughter,” she said.
According to Rosmawati, Hajar was a quiet man who rarely went out with friends and preferred to stay at home, read the Quran and pray.
She explained that Hajar had worked as a security guard but later did contract work with his uncle at construction sites.
He also helped his mother sell pisang goreng.
Rosmawati said her parents divorced when she was a child and Hajar was taken by their father to the Philippines while she and her older sister remained with their mother in Keningau, Sabah.
Hajar spent his adolescence going back and forth between Sabah and Kuala Lumpur.
After a spell working at Petaling Street when he was 16 years old, Hajar went to Sabah again.
“I don’t know how many months he was in Sabah. Then people called and said he was in the Philippines,” said Hajar’s mother, Maimunah Omar, 43.
The Star spoke to Maimunah outside the Kajang courthouse on Oct 16, the day her son was charged in the Sessions Court. The case was later transferred to the High Court.
She said Hajar kept his activities with the Abu Sayyaf group hidden from her but she eventually found out from family members in 2015.
“So I called him, scolded him and advised him to do the right thing.
“I called him in 2015 and told him to come here. A month after talking to him, I sent him some money and he came here,” she said.
Her next move was to find Hajar a wife, and he was devoted to her and their child, Maimunah said.
But then he was arrested.
“What can be done? I just leave it to God. Even though I am sad and hurting for my own child, I will be patient,” she said.
Hajar was arrested with seven other people, including his uncle and two cousins whose involvement with the Abu Sayyaf was denied by Rosmawati.
“My brother might be guilty as he was involved but the others really had nothing to do with them. We don’t know why they were arrested as well,” she said.
During his time with the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan, Hajar is believed to have been involved in the kidnapping of six Philippine nationals and may have even taken part in beheading one of them.
He is also believed to have held meetings with Malaysian militants Dr Mahmud Ahmad, Mohd Najib Husen and Muhammad Juraimee Awang Ramlee in December 2015 somewhere in Basilan.
Hajar, an active Facebook user, is also said to have had regular video calls with Abu Rami, a media-savvy Abu Sayyaf leader who featured in several videos of hostage execution.
No clue about the terror next door