Kidnapping in the Sulu Sea: Implications on Terrorism in the Philippines

In the Sulu Seas, kidnap-for-ransom activities perpetrated by Islamic State-linked terrorist networks are on the rise again.

By Kenneth Yeo

On September 23, a group of seven gunmen aboard two pump boats ambushed and seized three fishermen off the coast of East Sabah, in a sign of how the Islamic State (IS) and its affiliated networks continue to trouble the Southeast Asian region. The latest attack follows a surge in ambushes and kidnappings in the last two years along the Sulu Seas, which encompasses the waters around Indonesia, Malaysia’s eastern Sabah state and the Philippines, and has long been a hotspot for piracy and sea robbery. Although there was no claim of responsibility, the attackers are said to be members of an Abu Sayyaf splinter group affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) in Sulu province. It is believed the seven gunman, who were masked, boarded two fishing vessels around midday local time, and abducted three crew members. 

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Source: thediplomat.com

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U.S. puts Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Sawadjaan on global terror list

Along with Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan – who is said to be the leader of the Islamic State in the Philippines – a female named Almaida Marani Salvin is also included on the United States’ blacklist

Sofia Tomacruz

MANILA, Philippines – The United States has added Abu Sayyaff sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, who is said to be the leader of the Islamic State (ISIS) in the Philippines, to its list of global terrorists.

Along with Sawadjaan, a female named Almaida Marani Salvin was also included in the US Treasury’s sanctions blacklist. Salvin was said to have “materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support ” to ISIS-Philippines.

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Source: rappler.com

Luxury cruise ships return to Sri Lanka following Easter terror explosions

COLOMBO, June 11 (Xinhua) — Sri Lanka’s leading tour operators said on Tuesday that luxury cruise ships have begun calling at Sri Lanka’s ports following the improved security situation in the island country after the Easter terror attacks on April 21 which killed over 250 people.

Aitken Spence Maritime, agents for Hapag-Lloyd, was quoted by local media as saying that the shipping groups MS Europa 2 cruise ship called at Sri Lanka’s Colombo Port in the capital and Hambantota port in the south recently with 309 passengers and 356 crew onboard.

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Source: xinhuanet.com

Dutch hostage killed while trying to escape from militants in Philippines

MANILA (Reuters) – A Dutch photographer held hostage by Islamic State-linked militants in the Philippines since 2012 was killed on Friday by his captors when he tried to escape during a firefight on a remote southern island, the military said.

Ewold Horn, a wildlife photographer, was shot by his guards from the Abu Sayyaf group when he tried to flee during a clash between government troops and the militants, said Brigadier General Divino Rey Pabayo, commander of a Joint Task Force on Sulu island.

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Source: reuters.com

Maritime Security News: You may recall that only ten days ago, a Philippine National Police commander had claimed that Horn had joined the group. More here:
https://maritimesecurity.news.blog/2019/05/21/dutch-hostage-joins-abu-sayyaf/

The Deadly Evolution of Abu Sayyaf and the Sea

By Meghan Curran

On the morning of January 27, 2019, two bombs exploded inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in Jolo on the Sulu Province in the southern Philippines. Tearing a hole through the cathedral during a Sunday service, the bombs claimed 20 lives, injured dozens more, and propelled Islamist extremism in the Philippines back into international headlines. In the aftermath of the blast, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte promised to “pursue to the ends of the Earth the ruthless perpetrators behind [the] dastardly crime,”as the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), the country’s notoriously violent Islamic separatist group, claimed responsibility for the attack. While President Duterte may not need to go to the “ends of the Earth” to put an end to the ASG-fueled terror, his government will certainly need to act beyond its own shores. Illicit maritime activities are at the root of ASG funding and operations, and ensuring the group’s defeat will require focused government efforts to improve maritime security in its area of operations.

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Source: cimsec.org

ASG gunman killed in Sulu fighting

BY AL JACINTO

ZAMBOANGA CITY: Government troops clashed with pro-Islamic State (IS) militant groups in Sulu, which killed an Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) fighter and wounded two police officers in separated encounters on Tuesday.

Officials said the fighting simultaneously erupted on Simisa Island off Banguingi town and in Patikul town.

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Source: manilatimes.net