KLUANG: Malaysia will tighten surveillance in its territorial waters, especially in Sabah waters following the death of Abu Sayyaf militant commander, Alhabsi Misaya who was killed during clashes with the Philippines marines unit in Jolo island recently.
Defence Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, who confirmed receiving the news of his death, said the measure was taken to prevent the remnants of Abu Sayyaf army from escaping from the Philippines military which was increasingly aggressive in conducting operations to wipe out the terrorists activities in that country.
The death of Alhabsi, I can confirm and it involves the close cooperation between Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines through a trilateral cooperation that we have established, he told reporters here Sunday.
Hishammuddin was commenting on a report by a foreign news agency Saturday on the death of a senior militant leader believed to be among the masterminds behind the kidnappings of dozens of Malaysian and Indonesian hostages in the waters of both countries.
Al Habsi was the notorious Abu Sayyaf man who had been terrorising Sabah with his kidnappings. He was shot dead while riding a motorcycle with another Abu Sayyaf member, Barak Sahibul, the son of sub-commander Hatib Ummal Sahibul, in Jolo island.
He was responsible for the beheading of Sarawakian Bernard Then on Nov 17, 2015 when he failed to get more money from Malaysia.
Then and a woman named Thien, a restaurant co-owner were kidnapped from the Sandakan restaurant on May 14, 2015.
Al Habsi was also behind the July 12, 2014 kidnapping of policeman Zakiah Aleip and the murder of Kpl Ab Rajah Jamuan during the raid at Pulau Mabul in Semporna.
He was also linked to the April 2, 2014 Singgamata Reef Resort kidnapping of Chinese student Gao Huayun and resort worker Marcy Darawan.
The death of Al Habsi is seen by both the Filipino and Malaysian intelligence as a major blow to the extremist group responsible for dozens of kidnappings on both sides of southern Philippines and the eastern Sabah sea borders.
Most of their key leaders have either been killed or arrested over the past few months during the intensified military operations against the group.
A report said said several other Abu Sayyaf leaders, including the Sawadjaan brothers – sub commander Sarip Muna and sub commander Halipa (a former Sandakan-based smuggler turned kidnapper) – were still at large.
“They can’t do much but they are becoming desperate. That is why they are still dangerous,” the source said.
“The key leaders are on the run with limited places to hide,” said the source, adding that the Philippines security forces were combing the Tawi-Tawi chain of islands along Sabah’s borders.
The Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) has also been maintaining a tight border security to stop them fleeing into Sabah.
Al Habsi’s death comes hardly two weeks after his right-hand man and Abu Sayyaf media-savvy spokesman, Muamar Askali @ Abu Rami, was killed while leading a group to the Philippines central Visayas region where they were planning a major kidnapping plot.
Al Habsi’s men are said to be still holding several Vietnamese sailors in Jolo jungles.