IS Philippines acting emir's son 'Mokong' now holds Indo hostages
Published on: Sunday, December 15, 2019
By: Zam Yusa
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The three Indonesian fishermen kidnapped from waters off Tambisan Island, Lahad Datu in September now in Abu Sayyaf's captivity.
Kota Kinabalu: The three Indonesian fishermen kidnapped from Sabah waters in September changed handlers yet again, this time to the son of the acting leader of the Islamic State terror group’s network in the Philippines, said an Indonesian terrorism researcher.

Ulta Levenia Nababan of Jakarta-based think tank Galatea told Daily Express the hostages are held by Abu Sayyaf leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan’s son known only by his nickname, Mokong.

Nababan also said the hostages are now held in Patikul, no longer in Indanan, another municipality in Sulu province, as Daily Express previously reported.

“Sawadjaan’s son is holding the hostages. His nickname is Mokong. I don’t know their exact location in Patikul, but Patikul is definitely Mokong’s area,” said Nababan, citing ground sources in southern Philippines.

Nothing is publicly known about Mokong as there are no previous references to him, online news checks by Daily Express showed.

A regional military spokesperson could not confirm the hostages are being held by Mokong in Patikul.

“We are validating all reports regarding their location in our efforts to rescue the KVs [kidnap victims] as soon as possible,” the Philippine military’s Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Major Arvin Encinas told Daily Express.

“We have our lead and we’re continuously tracking their hideouts.”

The Indonesians - Maharudin Lunani, 48, Muhammad Farhan, 27, and Samiun Maneu, 27 - were kidnapped by seven armed men while catching prawns in waters off Tambisan Island, Lahad Datu.

The hostages were then taken to Indanan and held by three different handlers, namely Apo Mike, Sibih Pisih and Salip Mura, who are on the Eastern Sabah Security Command’s wanted list, Daily Express reported earlier.

Daily Express cannot immediately establish the timeline of the three Abu Sayyaf militants’ handling of the hostages.

In November, Pisih was killed in military operations in Indanan, which Encinas told Daily Express had also been carried out to rescue the Indonesians.

In the latest development last week, four Abu Sayyaf militants under Sawadjaan and one soldier were killed in a military operation in Patikul which Encinas told Daily Express was to crush the militant group and rescue the hostages.

Sawadjaan is also on Esscom’s wanted list and was identified as the “acting emir” of the Islamic State terror group in the Philippines in a 2018 report by the US Department of Defence.

This came after another Abu Sayyaf leader, Isnilon Hapilon, the Islamic State’s emir-designate in the Philippines, was killed towards the end of the 2017 Marawi siege by his group and the Maute militant group.

Sawadjaan, whose stronghold is reportedly in Patikul, was also tagged as the mastermind in January’s cathedral suicide bombing by a married Indonesian couple in Sulu’s capital city Jolo.

He was also reported to be harbouring foreign terrorists including Malaysians and Indonesians.

The Abu Sayyaf, which has a faction that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, has been blamed by Malaysian and Philippine authorities for previous kidnappings in the Sulu Sea, a maritime area shared by both nations.


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