The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) warned on May 22 that a group of approximately five Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members armed with assorted firearms was planning to conduct kidnapping activities in undisclosed areas in Sabah, Malaysia.
The ReCAAP warning said ASG is targeting wealthy businessmen or crew of fishing boats and other slow moving ships plying within the waters off Sabah, Malaysia. The group came from Sulu and was monitored to have landed at Omapoy Island, Sipangkot, Sitangkai, Tawi Tawi.
Ship masters and crew are strongly urged to exercise extra vigilance when transiting the waters off Eastern Sabah and in the Sulu-Celebes Seas.
ASG is an Islamic separatist organization founded in the Philippines in 1991 and remains the country’s most dangerous militant group. It has been influenced by Al Qaeda ideologies and attracted attention in the early 2000s with a string of high-profile bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, and attacks.
In June 2017, the group renewed its campaign to establish an Islamic state in the Philippines when it gained control of parts of Marawi, a city in the south.