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Monday, July 18, 2016

Eyes and ears of the people needed to counter cross-border abductions, says expert

Terrorologist Paneir Selvam questions how militants know exactly when and where to carry out abductions despite police patrolling the area.

An expert in the field of terrorism and counter-terrorism has pointed to the likelihood of insiders being responsible for the Abu Sayyaf’s streak of success in abducting locals and foreigners in Sabah waters recently.

Terrorologist R Paneir Selvam told FMT insider information was a possibility, given that all the kidnapping-for-ransom incidents carried out by the southern Philippines militant group appear to have taken place without a hiccup.

“Without an insider, how is it possible that the militants know exactly the right time and spot to carry out their abductions?

“They managed this even with police patrolling the areas involved. The information must have come from the inside,” he told FMT.

Paneir, who is the chairman of the Association of Legal and Policy Researchers, said among the best ways to counter the threat of the Abu Sayyaf, that had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, was to engage the public.

“Sabah waters are porous and difficult to protect, so the people need to be the eyes and ears of the authorities.

“The problem now is that they (the people) feel disassociated from the authorities.

“But the authorities have to realise that their current strategies are unsuccessful, so why not fully utilise the high number of locals who have better access to whatever is happening on the ground?”

Paneir, who is also a lecturer in terrorism at HELP University, was commenting on the abduction of three Indonesian sailors earlier this month.

The incident is the latest in a kidnapping spree, having occurred less than a month after seven Indonesian crewmen of a ship were taken hostage by two different Philippine militant groups and held on different islands in southern Philippines. - FMT

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