Malaysian authorities have arrested a notorious leader of the Philippines-based militant group Abu Sayyaf as the Muslim country gears up for a crackdown on Takfiri terrorists.
A police source in the capital Kuala Lumpur said on Sunday that Hajar Abdul Mubin, known as Abu Asrie, had been arrested in an operation in the city four days ago.
He said seven other members of Abu Sayyaf were also captured during the raid on August 30, adding that one was a Filipino like Abu Asrie and the remaining six were Malaysian nationals from the Borneo state of Sabah.
The Malaysian English daily Star had initially reported the arrests.
Abu Sayyaf, known for bombings, beheadings, extortion and kidnap-for-ransom in the south of the Philippines, has pledged allegiance to the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, which is currently operating in the Middle East and North Africa. Militants loyal to Daesh managed to seize large territories in the southern Philippines in May, promoting the government to launch a sweeping crackdown in the city of Marawi and other areas in almost one third of the country in the south. The battle continued for 100 days, and some 620 militants along with over 130 soldiers and police as well as 45 civilians were killed.
Governments in Southeast Asia have closely watched Abu Sayyaf’s expansion of activities in the region. They fear that an end to the activities of Daesh in Iraq and Syria could lead to increased militancy in their countries.
Malaysia, a Muslim-dominated country, shares a porous maritime border with the Philippines in the Sabah region. Authorities have intensified a crackdown on Takfiri terrorist elements as many nationals who had previously joined Daesh are returning home from the Middle East. Some 250 people were arrested between 2013 and 2016 on suspicions of links to Daesh in Malaysia.