KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA — Seven suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group were arrested last 14 September 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, where they were posing as security guards. The suspects joined eight other members, all Filipinos, of the terrorist group in custody, under investigation for alleged planned attacks during the 29th Kuala Lumpur SEA Games and the 60th Merdeka Day celebration, Malaysia’s national day.
According to Inspector General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun, the suspects—aged 22 to 38—were working for private security companies in Klang Valley, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, using forged identification. Their arrests were part of the country’s heightened anti-terrorism campaign, with the operations led by the Bukit Aman counterterrorism division.
“One of the suspects, aged 22, is an Abu Sayyaf member who was involved in armed clashes with the Philippine armed forces and was also involved in kidnappings in southern Philippines,” Inspector-General Fuzi revealed in a statement.
Authorities shared that the seven suspects entered Malaysia via Sandakan, Sabah some two years ago before flying to the capital using fake travel documents.
With the news came concerns that the Abu Sayyaf members were using their jobs at security agencies to procure weapons—but the police assured the public that it was merely a job for them: “No, it is their day job—they took it up to survive.”
“We have run background checks and scrutinised the security companies as to whether the suspects had access to arms,” said Inspector-General Fuzi, “but investigations found that they worked as static guards, which means they did not have access to weapons.”
Abu Sayyaf members posing as security guards is no new modus operandi. Just last July 2017 in Zamboanga, two members of the terrorist group were arrested; they had been working as security guards stationed at a mall. One of the suspects, Abdulmubin Kudalat Salamuddin alias Mubin, was involved in the 2002 Sidapan kidnapping and is a suspected arms supplier for the Abu Sayyaf. A fragmentation grenade was found in his possession at the time of his arrest. His companion, Ibno Moro, has a prolific crime record—including involvement in several kidnappings and three cases of murder in Tawi-Tawi.
Closer to the Philippine capital: According to SecurityMatters™ Magazine sources, in the Philippines five years or so ago, a major security agency that was primarily in charge of guarding a prestigious condominium complex where a famous regional tycoon resided employed an Abu Sayyaf leader as one of its security guards.