SANDAKAN, Aug 20 — The two Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members shot dead at an oil palm plantation in Pulau Timbang here at the break of dawn this morning had planned to kidnap oil palm plantation owners for ransom, according to Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hazani Ghazali.
He said the group’s kidnapping for ransom plan (KFR) was revealed by an ASG sub-leader Sansibar Bencio, who was arrested at Taman Sri Arjuna, Beaufort in May, during an investigation.
“Today’s operation was launched after Bencio revealed that he had instructed the two members to kidnap two oil palm plantation owners residing in Sandakan and Sukau (Kinabatangan) for ransom.
“This was to fund the ASG eastern Sulu base at the Bud Bawis Complex in Panamao, Sulu, in Southern Philippines,” he told a press conference here today.
Hazani said the dead militants, identified as Rakim Landasan and Alnasir Landasan, in their 30s, were shot dead at about 5am during a shootout with security forces at the plantation.
A Colt .45 pistol, commonly used in the Philippines, and a machete were found on the dead terrorists, he said.
Hazani said the operation followed the raid on the plantation two days ago, which saw the arrest of 11 men, seven of whom were ASG members.
He said the operation was made possible with assistance from the police force, Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) and the Malaysian Armed Forces, among others.
Without revealing further details, he said the police have obtained information on where the remnants of the ASG might be hiding in the state and would be tracking them down soon.
“I want to stress that Sabah is not a safe haven for the ASG. I want to get rid of that perception. We (police) will not stop at tracking them down,” he said.
Hazani also warned employers, including oil palm plantation owners and construction managers, to ensure their workers had valid documentation to avoid the employment of terrorists. — Bernama