Remember the audacious April 2000 kidnapping by the Abu Sayyaf of at least 10 foreigner tourists, 11 Malaysian resort workers and many others from a resort in Sipadan, Malaysia?
According to an exclusive story published by The Star Online <thestar.com.my> and reported by P.K. KATHARASON, MUGUNTAN VANAR, and PHILIP GOLINGAI, “a chilling plan to carry out large-scale kidnappings of foreigners from tourist island resorts in Sabah and the central Philippines has been foiled following the death of Abu Sayyaf leader Muamar Askali @ Abu Rami in Bohol and the surrender of 11 sub-leaders in Tawi Tawi.”
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Datelined LAHAD DATU, the report indicated that the threat “is still present, however, and security forces of both countries remain on alert.
According to Philippine and Malaysian intelligence sources, the report said, “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,” citing an intelligence source.
“The gunmen were from three Abu Sayyaf sub-groups led, respectively, by Al Habsi Misaya, Salip Mura and Hatib Sawadjaan @ Salihin Sawadjaan. They were armed with an assortment of weapons including 76 rifles and grenade launchers,” a portion of the report indicated.
The Star quoted a Malaysian intelligence officer, who said that, if the latest kidnappings had been carried out, “It would have been Sipadan part two.”