MILF commander investigated in Sabah over Kiram links

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An alleged top commander of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who was arrested for intrusion in Sabah is under investigation by Malaysian authorities for possible links to Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram 3rd.

Assistant Commissioner Omar Mammah of the Sabah Crime Investigation Department said they were investigating the 43-year-old Filipino, reportedly a battalion commander of the MNLF.

According to Malaysian newspaper, Daily Express, the Filipino suspect, who was not identified, has been placed behind bars after being sentenced to 18 months in prison on September 9 by a Malaysian court for encroaching in Silabukan Forest Reserve in Merabung, Tungku.

Mammah said the investigators want to determine if the suspect was part of the 4,000 “Bangsa Moro Army” of the MNLF who were reportedly activated and sent to Sabah last month to join Kiram’s Royal Security Forces (RSF) that had been in the area since early February.


Tungku is about 45 kilometers from Kampung Tanduo, where Kiram’s fighters, led by his brother Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram landed in February to revive the sultanate’s long-standing claim over Sabah.

The intrusion led to a series of deadly clashes with the Malaysian security forces and the death of 68 Filipino insurgents and 10 Malaysian policemen and soldiers.

Mammah also said the MNLF commander was found living in a cluster of huts with four women in the forest reserve.

Malaysian authorities confirmed that the suspect was an MNLF commander after they found an identification card in his huts, which were ordered demolished.

“During the demolition process, officials uncovered documents identifying the suspect as a Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) soldier, as well as military paraphernalia including a beret and commando badge,” said Mammah.

Police had opened a case file to determine if the Filipino was a member of the terrorist group under Section 130KA of the Penal Code, which is read with the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, Mammah added.

But Sultanate of Sulu spokesman Abraham Idjirani said they have no information on the detained MNLF commander.

At least 29 alleged followers of the Sulu Sultanate, including Kiram’s nephew Datu Amirbahar Hussein Kiram, are being tried for alleged participation in the bloody Sabah standoff.

They were all charged with terrorism-related cases and could face the death penalty under Malaysian laws.

At least eight other Filipinos were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment on May 15 in connection with the Sabah intrusion.

RITCHIE A. HORARIO

 

 

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