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Threat to behead Sayyaf leader's wives works
Published on: Sunday, June 24, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: Two women kidnapped by an Abu Sayyaf group led by a Filipino transborder criminal wanted by the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) were recently released in Sulu, southern Philippines.

Philippine media reported that the two women were abducted from their home on June 20 by the Abu Sayyaf group led by sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan.

The Manila Times reported that the notorious kidnapping group released the women after armed vigilantes seized the wives of Hatib and threatened to execute the women.

The vigilantes, mostly villagers, had armed themselves and hunted down the three wives of Hatib, one of 20 men on Esscom's wanted list.

The Abu Sayyaf released the victims safely after the vigilantes, fed up with the bandit group's atrocities, threatened to behead one of Hatib's wives.

Hatib, along with 18 other Filipinos, were included by Esscom in its latest wanted list released in January for transborder crimes, including maritime piracy and kidnappings in the Sulu Sea off Sabah's east coast.

The remaining two wanted men on the list are Malaysians–former university lecturer-turned pro-Islamic State militant Dr Mahmud Ahmad and a militant from Tawau, Amin Baco.

Both were reported to have been killed in last year's Marawi battle but Amin was later reported to have survived and escaped the southern Philippine city.

He was then reported by the Philippine media to be harboured by Hatib, who is his father-in-law, in the mountains off Patitul town in Sulu.

Mahmud was reported by CNN Philippines to have been killed in the Marawi war with his body found under rubble of a collapsed building.

However, the Philippine authorities have yet to confirm the body is his through DNA testing despite his DNA samples made available by the Malaysian police.

More than 1,200 people, mostly militants, were killed in the five-month battle in Marawi between troops and pro-Islamic State groups–the Maute and Abu Sayyaf-who were intent on creating a so-called regional caliphate in the city.

The protracted battle caused worries that militants would flee to Sabah following heavy offensives by the Philippine military and made Esscom heighten security in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone). - Zam Yusa

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