Malaysians fund Abu Sayyaf

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Yes, that’s what they have done in effect by paying 12 million Malaysian ringgit (P138 million) to the terrorist group for the release on June 8 of four of its citizens kidnapped off Sabah on April 1, and hidden in Sulu.

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This isn’t rumor. Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister (and Home Minister) Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi confirmed such payment in Malaysian newspapers. So did the uncle of one of the kidnap victims, Datuk Lau Cheng Kiong, who even gave details — which I find incredible — on how the huge ransom money was paid. (I suspect the money was raised by the Malaysian government itself, and not by contributions made through the internet as Lau claimed.)

The Malaysian government, though, thinks Filipinos are fools. Its deputy prime minister claimed: “I can confirm that the RM12 million that was handed over to the Special Branch was given as a form of contribution to certain organizations in the Philippines. It was channeled not as ransom, but to a body in the Philippines, which assists in an Islamic struggle. The body has no links to terrorists or criminals.” (The Special Branch is Malaysia’s intelligence service, the equivalent of the Americans’ CIA and FBI, but combined.)

The Abu Sayaff recently beheaded two Canadians after the hostages’ government and families failed to pay the ransom demanded by the militant group. The terrorists, however, freed the four Malaysians, with the Malaysian government confirming that RM 12 million was “sent over” for their release.

Yet, the deputy prime minister claims it wasn’t ransom, and that it was given not even to the kidnappers but to “a body in the Philippines, which assists in an Islamic struggle.”

Does he think we, Filipinos, are so stupid?

The ransom payment has triggered a political firestorm in Malaysia because of the contradictory statements issued by government officials. Home Minister Hamidi disclosed that the funds were turned over to the Special Branch, which presumably turned them over to the Abu Sayyaf. Lau, who represented the families of the four hostages, even narrated that two Special Branch officers, with an approval letter from Bank Negara, withdrew the sum and carried them in 12 metal cases to the police station.

Malaysian newspaper The Star reports that the deputy home minister has confirmed money was paid to secure the release of the Malaysian sailors taken hostage by the Abu Sayyaf group in Mindanao, although he called it a “contribution to certain organizations in the Philippines.”

Malaysian newspaper The Star reports that the deputy home minister has confirmed money was paid to secure the release of the Malaysian sailors taken hostage by the Abu Sayyaf group in Mindanao, although he called it a “contribution to certain organizations in the Philippines.”

However, Malaysia’s Police Inspector-General Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar denied that the Special Branch handled any money, and that ransom was paid. He made the preposterous claim that the Abu Sayyaf was pressured to release its hostages because of the Malaysian government’s move to ban barter trade between Malaysia and Mindanao.

Malaysian quarters have also raised fears that the ransom payment would make them the favorite targets of kidnappers. Indeed, the Home Minister, less than a month ago, claimed: “If we were to pay (ransom), the fear is that it could be seen as us condoning such acts of violence. We can see a trend from this latest abduction whereby out of the 10 people onboard, the Myanmar nationals and Indonesians were released. “Only the Malaysians were taken,” he said.

Ransom money shared
The controversy has made our country look like a place where terrorist kidnappers can operate freely to get huge ransoms, helped by local officials and even officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines who collaborate with the Abu Sayyaf so they can get a share of the ransom money.

As was the scoop of The Manila Times the other day, the Abu Sayaff was reported to have received only P100 million of the ransom, with the rest going to the pockets of Malaysian and Philippine government officials. “They claimed it was a legitimate service fee,” a source in the military, grinning, told me.

This isn’t so shocking really based on past reports. The mayor of Jolo, Sulu, Hussin Amin, recently alleged that some military officers in Sulu are in cahoots with the Abu Sayyaf group and have been getting a share of the ransom paid to the terrorist group from past kidnapping cases. He cited one case, which a congressional committee had investigated, in which the Army colonel helping the kidnappers was identified.

Indeed, when I was in government in the early 2000s during the Dos Palmas kidnapping of more than a dozen tourists, military intelligence had explained that one difficulty in going after kidnappers in Basilan and Sulu was that kidnapping was treated as some kind of a cottage industry in those areas.

The hostages would be turned over by the kidnappers to the local clans, who would move them from one family to another to hide them. The armed gang that actually undertook the kidnapping would simply store away their arms and blend into the civilian population, until it was tasked to collect the ransom and release the hostages. There were even cases when one clan would “buy” the hostages from the original kidnappers and would undertake negotiations for the payment of the ransom.

These clans often have relatives in the police, or even the Army, who would tip them off of any plans by the authorities to search a community for the hostages. The clans, of course, would get a portion of the ransom, when it is paid. This is the reason why the Abu Sayyaf has been able to elude government forces no matter how many troops are mobilized against them.

Ransom payments serve to strengthen the Abu Sayyaf and make their kidnappings easier to undertake. What other armed groups could get as much as P100 million in one operation? With funds available, the Abu Sayyaf finds it easier to recruit additional fighters and to bribe a community – in advance – to hide their hostages.

Even as the ransom payment has become an issue in Malaysia, our government hasn’t even protested the Malaysians’ payment of the ransom undertaken through its intelligence service, operating in our territory. Why shouldn’t we protest, when the Abu Sayaff now has over P100 million to fund their acquisition of more powerful weapons, to recruit more terrorists and bribe local officials to provide sanctuary for their future hostages?

Now busy packing, or perhaps shredding documents that could be used in graft cases against him, President Aquino is clueless over the controversy, and hasn’t done anything to protest against payment of the ransom, or even just the public confirmation made by the Malaysian deputy prime minister of such payment. His de facto spokesman, Herminio Coloma – the official one, Edwin Lacierda, appears to have vanished a few months ago – told Manila Times reporters that they had no knowledge of the ransom payment, and appeared nonchalant about it.

Coloma’s ignorance of the ransom payment by the Malaysians, which has made our nation look like a powerless wimp in the region, is disgraceful. Because of the incompetence of this Yellow Regime, we have become the only country in Asia where a known terrorist group kidnaps foreigners and gets huge ransom money.

That is so reflective of the stupid, incompetent government that we have. Shouldn’t it undertake an intensive investigation into how the Malaysians could operate so freely in the country, violating our anti-ransom policies and consequently boosting the strength of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf with more funds?

Shouldn’t the government find out which local channels were used by the Malaysians to make the ransom payment? Malaysia is mocking our sovereignty by operating in our territory to pay ransom to terrorists plaguing our land, and Aquino doesn’t seem to mind it. Or has this government become close buddies with the Malaysians, who had promised Aquino they would handle the MILF to agree to a peace pact?

What kind of a country have we become that even our neighbors trample on our sovereignty?

tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com

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28 Comments

  1. I am Malaysian, hailing from Sandakan, Sabah in Malaysia, where kidnapping often occur by Filipino armed groups of many names. Abu Sayaf is just one of them.

    Yes, my government may have handed funds to different people but ultimately and definitely ends up with the terrorists of Southern Philippines. Please take my government to task.Cut off the funding of terrorists in Mindanao, which could have, would have and should have been a beautiful place on earth.

    Don’t be a NATO (No Action; Talk Only) politician.

  2. Abu sayyaf sial on

    The abu sayyaf millitant group is terroriat. This group show us that how bad, evil and vicious Islam is.. They are loving to killing people just like what their prophet did to those people of in his time.. they hate christian, why because they know that only the christian believers can enter the kingdom of GOD or HEAVEN but the Islam beliverers will go and enter the kindom of satan or they will go to hell because their god is SATAN..

  3. I’m Malaysian. Please take the corrupt Najib government and his deputy Zahid Hamidi to court as well as the corrupt inspector general of police – Khalid abu Bakar to jail in the Philippines over this. We Malaysians are sick and disgusted by the corrupt leaders we have. Please push for this. Our people worked hard to raise that money and now it has just gone into the hands of Abu Sayyaf terrorists through the Malaysian police and government. We will support you 200% please put these corrupt government and police in jail in the Philippines. Thank you

  4. I am Australian and have visited Mindanao a few times. I am appalled and saddened by the extreme poverty of its inhabitants, more saddened by the fact that I don’t go there anymore because of my close proximity to the Italian kidnapping in Dipolog and consequently I have to spend my dollars elsewhere when I would prefer to spend in Mindanao. Surely something can be done about these cowardly abu sayaf (I refuse to name them in capitals. Mindanao badly needs tourists and I would like to be one of its regulars

    • I suggest you to go Mindanao be a hostage that should be suit you that much… Given the fact that you so eager to spend you dollars in Mindanao.. Or more better of become one of Abu sayap member in that case you will be content of holidays in there

  5. Rudi Miranda on

    Thank you! Congratulations! BSC Aquino III just don’t give a damn which is strange? The silence must be investigated.

  6. “I want to be kidnapped”, said by Ian Moorhouse, a British national, one of my workmate at a oil pumping station project at Saudi on 1992. Ian who was still young then could have said it for a joke or for a thrill. He referred to the globally popular kidnapping-for-ransom spree which was happening then down at Mindanao. I then learned Moorhouse eventually became an energy executive of Aboitiz at PH. If and when he’s still there till now, then it may be his chance to fulfill his desire and be the next one on the line at the “head-cutting field”.

  7. disturbed citizen on

    Mr. Tiglao you have just articulated a very valid point…. I repeat, a very valid point. It became more clearer to me the look of what had the PH became on the eyes of international communities watching us on how we handle bloody kidnap-for-ransom-terrorists.

  8. Hurricanemax joko on

    Muslim brudderhood between pariah Abu sayyaff kidnappers & high ranking Malaise’s malays in security services.

  9. What is the Anti-Money Laundering Council of the Philippines doing? We can only hope that the Malaysians are not deliberately funding the Abu Sayyaf to create disturbance in Mindanao as a diversion from our long-standing right of ownership over Sabah which traitor Aquinos – father, mother and son – have practically given to the Malaysians (in exchange for certain favors?).

  10. Ignacio Balbutin on

    Pnoy is a protege of the Malaysians and even give Sabah to the Malaysians so there’s no wonder about it. He should be investigated for treason for given up Sabah to the Malaysians

  11. jack reacher on

    Very true…
    with Du30 now at the helm and from their tagline “change is coming” .. i don’t think the next administration’s push for federalism will dampen this group’s racket sa kidnap for ransom. There is nothing ideological here other than naked greed — easy money.

    oh well they can ask for exclusive (above board ) business.. SMC press released that they will be developing basilan .. baka itong mga abu sayaff ang ka-partner.. their income / money generating activity has to be replaced by something ..

    narining ba nating nag Pu$#@! itong incoming president sa mga kidnappers .. tulad nang sinasabi niya sa mga pari ..

  12. This shows the vile and failed system. That is the contemporary state of affairs.

    It is sad that you are beneficiary of somebody’s bigotry and kinkiness.

    We abhor the happenings..

  13. Justatourist on

    Maybe that is really the only way to save their hostages. The Malaysian government is responsible for the safety of its citizens, as is any government. They are doing their job and am sure there were discussions between the Philippines and Malaysia about this. The same is probably true about the Indonesian hostages.

    The blame should not be put squarely on the shoulders of a third country. This is a Filipino problem which has not been solved by the successive Filipino governments. It is the lack of decisive and wise actions which has made all these dramatic and tragic events possible. Any other claim is rubbish.

    Training camps for “Muslim extremists” are now established in southern Palawan. What is being done about it? Is that Malyasia’s or Indonesia’s fault as well?

    JAT

  14. BS AQUINOIII ‘S GOVT HAS ALWAYS BEEN AFRAID OF PM NAJIB RAZAK OF MALAYSIA!

  15. Do you know why Ohio , Cleveland were James played is a depressed area ? Because of Federalism. There is not a lot of business in the area and the Federal Govrnment financed the state a very small portion of the federal income. T hat exactly will appen in Mindanao. A very beautiful place for tourist but a very bad and dangerous place to visit. Do not venture to visit that place.

  16. Do you guys know how a 130 million pesos can affect the peace situation in Mindanao. I am 100 per cent sure these will fund more kidnappings and killings in that area. 3 Malaysians saved , a few dozen will die, civilian and military.

  17. It is known facts; this ASG is supported by Malaysia. In fact, even the MILF and any armed or terrorist in Souther Mindanao–for fear (Malaysia) a peaceful Mindanao will trigger the Sabah Claim.

  18. Blame all those naive who “voted” for beneegno. You get the kind of government you vote for.

  19. More Malaysians will be kidnapped…. naturally. And it will be Du30’s team that will handle the ransom payments.

  20. I dont know who trampled whom but back in 2013, we filipinos were the ones who trampled on Malaysia’s sovereignty by attacking Sabah. The fact that the Malaysian army didnt attack Phillipines to get rid of the terrorist that our administration failed to get rid of for decades is good enough.

    • The ASG cannot get any more value target in Mindanao that is why they are now concentrating in Malaysia. 100 percent sure that more kidnappings will happen because of the paying of ransom. Nobody is safe. Do no go visit that area. No tourism , no business, no foreigners will visit Mindanao. The whole economy of Mindanao will crash . It is like South Central district in Los Angeles were blacks and Mexican criminals resides. No business, not even Big groceries opens in that area. Most of the government taxes goes to Mindanao. They are the poorest area in this nation. If we go feral ism, they will be negatively affected in funding. No more tac pesos will go to Mindanao. Metro Manila will be richer with casinos businesses concentrated in Metro Manila.

    • Ignacio Balbutin on

      hahaha funny, are a you a Malalysian or a filipino. Sabah belongs to the Philippines so it was a trampling of sacred shores of Malaysia because the datus were just claiming what legally belongs to them

    • Bonifacio Bangayan Claudio on

      Malaysia has been paying rent to The Sultanate of Sulu (Philippines) for the use of Sabah since Malaysian Confederation annexed Sabah & claimed sovereignty over it thru the connivance of Britain (the first Lessee) who should have had handed back Sabah over to the Sultanate of Sulu, the Lessor. Britain had no right to have made Sabah participate in the formation of the Malaysian Confederation. So much so, as it came to pass, that The Sultanate went over to Sabah to RECLAIM and RE-ESTABLISH and DEFEND THE SULTANATE’S SOVEREIGNTY against Malaysia Confederation’s occupation. The Sultanate guards WERE ATTACKED by Malaysia who refuses to return Sabah to the rightful owner of the territory — The Sultanate of Sulu… Malaysia has since been TRAMPLING UPON the sovereignty of the Philippines !!!