World

Abu Sayyaf plot to kidnap tourists from Sabah islands foiled

A chilling plan to carry out large-scale kidnappings of foreigners from tourist island resorts in East Malaysia and the central Philippines has been foiled following the death of Abu Sayyaf leader Muamar Askali in Bohol and the surrender of 11 sub-leaders in Tawi Tawi.

But the threat is still present and security forces of both countries remain on alert.

According to Philippine and Malaysian intelligence sources, Abu Sayyaf leaders had been drawing up plans over the last few months to abduct Caucasian tourists from Sabah islands close to the southern Philippines.

"They wanted to kidnap about a dozen or two dozen tourists not only for money, but also as human shields to stop the ongoing military offensive against them in their strongholds in Jolo island," said an intelligence source.

Raw intelligence reports, dated mid-February and seen by The Star, said dozens of heavily-armed Abu Sayyaf gunmen in seven speedboats had left Patikul in Jolo and arrived at Cagayan Sulu island in Tawi Tawi in the southern Philippines, which is just minutes away from Sandakan waters in Sabah.

But the plan was thwarted when Malaysian security forces were alerted to their presence in the Tawi Tawi island chain, and to their planned kidnappings. - THE STAR

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