Malaysian kidnap mastermind identified

Tung Wee Jie (left) and Tung Wee Wei.

PETALING JAYA - His name is Mohd Amin Bacho. He is a bomb expert, a cruel killer and has now been unveiled as the mastermind behind kidnapping of cousins Tung Wee Jie and Tung Wee Wei in Lahad Datu last year.

Mohd Amin, who is believed to have helped put together explosive materials for recent terror attacks in the southern Philippines, is now being hunted by Malaysian police and their Philippine counterparts.

The 30-year-old from Tawau is a member of the Darul Islam Sabah with links to the Abu Sayyaf militant group, notorious for its kidnappings and demand for ransom.

Special Task Force (Operations and Counter Terro­rism) Director Comm Datuk Seri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said Mohd Amin was identified as one of seven men who ambushed and kidnapped Wee Jie, 26, and Wee Wei, 34, on Nov 14, 2012.

"We are in contact with our counterparts in the Philippines to assist in the capture of Mohd Amin so that he can be held responsible for militant activities in Malaysia as well as neighbouring countries," he said yesterday.

Wee Jie, who escaped from his kidnappers on Aug 4, was interviewed by counter-terrorism officers at Bukit Aman on Monday.

"He identified Mohd Amin based on pictures of several suspects that we showed him," said Comm Mohamad Fuzi.

He said Mohd Amin is believed to have collaborated with six members of the Abu Sayyaf group to kidnap the cousins.

"Wee Jie also told us that Mohd Amin was with the group throughout his captivity.

"He told us that Mohd Amin spoke to him in English and Bahasa Malaysia with a Sabah accent," he said.

The cousins were grabbed by gunmen from their family plantation in Tambisan Lahad Datu on Nov 14 last year and taken to Jolo where they were kept chained in a bamboo hut until April 17.

The group demanded a ransom of US$230,000 (RM748,000), which it later reduced to US$46,000 (RM149,000).

No ransom was ever paid.

The cousins were taken by boat to jungle hideouts in Jolo island, which is a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf militant group associated with al-Qaeda and blamed for numerous kidnap for ransom cases.

Wee Jie was separated from Wee Wei when the latter fell sick and the armed group claimed that they had sent his cousin to hospital.

Philippine officials were reported as saying that they were planning an operation in the area where Wee Jie had been to locate Wee Wei.

Wee Jie, who was fed rice and salted fish during his captivity and unshackled himself using a fork, is now reunited with his family in Port Dickson after he was flown here last Wednesday.

According to Comm Mohamad Fuzi, Mohd Amin was part of an open investigation under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 for his involvement in the Darul Islam Sabah militant group.

"We have yet to confirm if Wee Wei died in captivity," Comm Mohamad Fuzi said, adding that his personnel would liaise with Philippine officials for more information.