Malaysia boosts anti-terrorism measures as Abu Sayyaf threats increase in Borneo
Mudzrimar, the number two of the Philippines-based Islamist group, is seeking refuge in Sabah and could reactivate local allied groups. Malaysia is also deploying special teams on horseback along the border with southern Thailand, where local Muslim secessionist groups operate.
Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) – The Malaysian government is increasing airports and ports security and deploying Special Action Units to counter the increasing threat of terrorism by Salafi groups.
Abu Sayyaf appears to be increasingly active in Sabah, a state in the eastern of part Malaysian Borneo, not far across by sea from the Philippines and a threat to both countries.
The group was once linked to al-Qaeda but now seems to be moving closer to the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate.
Along Sabah’s coastline, Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for a number of incidents, including abductions for ransom to finance their activities. Its strongholds are on the islands of Basilan and Jolo, southern Philippines.
Although not yet a crisis, Malaysia is boosting security along the borders of the states of Sabah and Sarawak. Their target is Mudzrimar "Mundi" Sawadjaan, Abu Sayyaf’s second-in-command and an explosives expert.
According to the latest available intelligence he was present in the Philippines as late as January, despite his reported death in recent clashes in Sulu.
It is thought that Mudzrimar might be seeking refuge in Malaysian Borneo where his presence could potentially reactivate local groups allied with Abu Sayyaf or influenced by it.
In order to monitor and contain possible terrorist infiltrations along the border between Malaysia and Thailand, Malaysian security authorities are deploying special teams on horseback.
The region is prone to the smuggling of goods and people by criminal gangs with local connections.
The four provinces on Thai side of the border are particularly unstable with a low-intensity conflict that has festered for many years, pitting Thailand’s military against Muslim secessionist groups who resent being under the distant thumb of Bangkok and Buddhist Thais.