Asean called to tackle Abu Sayyaf

The Black Standard of ISIL, which was adopted by Abu Sayyaf. Source: Wikipedia

Asean must work together to break the kidnapping threat of the Abu Sayyaf militants, says a Sarawak senior minister.

In reference to the discussion of human trafficking in the region at the weekend’s Asean summit in Kuala Lumpur, Sarawak Land Development Minister Tan Sri James Masing said “human trading” by Abu Sayyaf was an even more pressing issue which needed to be addressed.

“Abu Sayyaf seems to go on a rampage in kidnapping from Sabah shores – Taiwanese, Filipinos, Malaysians, you name it. In short, it’s not a Philippine or Malaysian problem but an Asian problem,” he said.

Masing said millions in ransom money had turned kidnapping into a lucrative business, with people “taken to be sold as goods in the market”.

He said it was a purely economic matter, not about politics or religion.

“It’s human lives for money,” he said.

He said the raid on Sabah and the recent beheading of a Malaysian hostage showed the militant group was becoming increasingly bold.

“There is a need for the Asean community to handle this menace before it becomes too big.

“This needs commitment and concerted efforts by all Asean. Let’s learn from the European Union on how they get together to handle the Syria problem,” he added.

Elsewhere, Malaysian police have identified the individual responsible for rumours about the presence of Abu Sayyaf suicide bombers in Kuala Lumpur and Sabah, which went viral on social media ahead of the Asean summit.

Internal Security and Public Order director Datuk Muhammad Fuad Abu Zarim said the low-ranking policeman in Sabah would be questioned about the matter soon.

“I will be going to Sabah next week to be updated on the case and I hope it can be settled as soon as possible,” he said in Kangar in Perlis Province, which borders Thailand.

Fuad added that the police presence in Kuala Lumpur was stepped up from 4,000 to 7,000 officers for the Asean summit followed the terrorist attacks in Paris and not in response to the rumours about Abu Sayyaf suicide bombers.

Malaysian police also denied claims circulating on social media that eight Abu Sayyaf suicide bombers were targeting shopping complexes in the capital city of Sabah.

“We strongly deny social media claims Abu Sayyaf suicide bombers were targeting various locations in Kota Kinabalu city in particular, and Sabah in general,” Kota Kinabalu assistant police commissioner M Chandra said.

He added that the viral messages had created uneasiness and fear in the east Malaysian state.

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