KUALA LUMPUR: The Royal Malaysian Police nabbed 12 Filipinos believed to be members of the outlawed Abu Sayaf Group (ASG), Maute Terrorist Group and Royal Sulu Force (RSF), and a Malaysian.
All 13 were nabbed in a series of crackdowns conducted by Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division together with the Special Branch, Sabah Police and 69 Commando in a two-day period between March 11 and 12 in Semporna and Tambunan in Sabah.
Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Muhammad Fuzi Harun in a statement today said some of those nabbed were suspected to providing protection to terrorist elements believed to be in hiding in Sabah.
He said in the first crackdown on March 11 saw authorities nab five Filipinos and one Malaysian suspect aged between 40 and 50 in Semporna.
"Four of the suspects are members of the Maute group who were believed to have been involved in the Marawi conflict in Southern Philippines, in 2017.
"They are also involved in providing shelter to terrorist elements of the Maute group as well as terror elements from the Middle East," Fuzi said.
The nation's top cop said another two suspects were suspected to be members of the RSF which was involved in the attacks in Lahad Datu and Semporna in 2013.
"They were also involved in recruiting new RSF members by selling membership cards for the group among Filipinos who had settled down in Sabah.
"The duo fled to Southern Philippines after the RSF lost. In 2018, the two slipped back into Sabah to reactivate the RSF’s activities, he said.
In the second crackdown which also took place on March 11, Fuzi said five Filipinos and one Filipina aged between 23 and 63-years-old were arrested in a raid in Tambunan.
Suspected to be ASG members, the six were involved in the Marawi conflict and slipped into Sabah in 2018 to avoid crackdown by Philippines security forces.
“The five were arrested for providing shelter to terror elements from the ASG and Maute group who are still at large,” he said.
The final arrest in the two-day crackdown saw a Filipino, aged 39, arrested on March 12 in Tambunan for providing shelter to terror elements of the ASG and Maute group who are still at large.
"With the arrest, the Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division is confident of tracking and capturing remaining elements of the ASG and Maute who are suspected of hiding in Sabah, specifically in Sabah," said Fuzi.
He said the suspects were arrested for allegedly committing offences relating to terrorism as provided under Chapter VIA of the Penal Code.
They would be investigated under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, he added.