PETALING JAYA - Malaysia has asked the Philippines to help track five militants linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) and Abu Sayyaf.
The five, who are believed to be associated with Daulah Islamiyah Asia Tenggara (South-East Asia Islamiyah Network), which has links to Isil, have fled to the Southern Philippines.
Intelligence sources suspect that the militants could be hiding out with the notorious Abu Sayyaf terror group in Jolo Island. They could also be shielded by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), which is a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
The sources believe the militants could be in contact with the region's most wanted terrorist Zulkifli Abdul Khir, also known as Marwan, who was last known to be hiding out with the BIFF group in Mindanao.
The terror five have been identified as Universiti Malaya lecturer Dr Mahmud Ahmad, stationery shopowner Mohd Najib Husen, both 36, former Selayang Municipal Council employee Muhammad Joraimee Awang Raimee, 39, Darul Islam Sabah members Mohd Amin Baco, 31, and Jeknal Adil, 30, both from Tawau. They have gone into hiding following a major crackdown on Islamic militants.
Counter-terrorism authorities are trying to determine how much influence Marwan had on 19 militants arrested in various states since April 28 and the five on the wanted list now. Marwan has a RM16mil bounty on his head issued by the US-based Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Yesterday, Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi confirmed Malaysia was working closely with the Philippines government in the hunt for the militants.
He added that the Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division is now liaising with its Philippine counterparts on the matter.
"We are coordinating our intelligence with the Philippines counter-terrorism unit and Interpol," he told The Star yesterday.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said the Special Branch's priority was to get the terrorists who are directly involved in recruiting and sending Malaysians to fight in Syria and Iraq.
"Those carrying out kidnappings in Sabah are also in our radar. Security is also being tightened at all major entry points in the country to prevent terrorists or pirates from entering our borders," he added.