A Malaysian man has been reportedly beheaded in the Southern Philippines by a terrorist group operating in the country.
According to multiple sources, Abu Sayyaf militants have beheaded a Malaysian citizen, Bernard Then Ted Fen, after taking him to a jungle in the Sulu province. The militants had captured the Malaysian businessman back in May and were demanding a hefty ransom for his release. The militant group is holding more foreign victims captive according to reports and is apparently operating a regular kidnap for ransom operation.
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Bernard Then Ted Fen was traveling with another compatriot, Thien Nyuk Fun, in the Malaysian state of Sabah. They were kidnapped by the militants and were taken across the sea border in a boat to the Sulu province. Thien Nyuk Fun was, however, freed earlier this month after a ransom was paid for his life.
Malaysia has condemned this act of barbarianism in strong words, with Prime Minster Najib Razak slamming the terrorist organization for this ‘sickening’ act. The Prime Minister has asked the Philippinew to take strong measures against Abu Sayyaf militants and has assured them of Malaysian support.
In his message on Facebook, the Malaysian Prime Minster condemned the incident in strongest terms. He said that his government and the people of Malaysia are shocked and sickened to hear about this vicious act and urged the Philippine government to take necessary actions against the culprits.
Malaysia asking the Philippines to do more against infamous group
Najib Razak added that it is now a moral duty of Philippine’s authorities to take necessary measures against the Abu Sayyaf group and they will have full cooperation from Malaysia. Malaysian agencies will aid the local agencies in their investigation on the matter in whatever manner possible.
The Philippines government has assured Malaysia it will take the necessary actions against the Abu Sayyaf militant group. They have assured Malaysia that they have already started an investigation to check the links between Abu Sayyaf group and the execution of the Malaysian businessman.
Nur Jazlan Mohamed, Malaysia’s Deputy Home Affairs Minister, has termed the incident as “violent.” According to Reuters, the deputy home minster expressed his shock and sadness over Then’s death, and said that the incident was inhuman. He added that it is a sad day for not just Malaysia, but for all of humanity.
The Abu Sayyaf group has accepted responsibility for the beheading, and has blamed Malaysian government for failing to do more to save its citizen. In a statement issued by the militant group, they stated that the beheading took place only after Then’s family failed to meet their ransom demand.
However, a Malaysian security official working on the case has claimed that Abu Sayyaf’s claims of not receiving ransom are baseless. He said that a hefty amount was paid to the group in the name of ransom and they were supposed to release Then, just like they released his compatriot. But they became greedy and continued asking for more money. The official added that the group was holding out for more money in ransom, but after realizing it would not happen, they became frustrated and carried out the beheading, Tempo News reported.
Abus Sayyaf is listed as a terrorist group
Abu Sayyaf group has been listed as a terrorist group by the U.S. Department of State. The militant group came into being in the early 1990s. It started its operations in Basilan province, which is about a hundred miles northeast of Sulu province, where the group beheaded Malaysian businessman. However, the group now operates from Jolo and is believed to have a very strong presence in the area.
The group is known for attacking civilians, kidnapping and holding for ransom, the failure of which leads to beheading of the innocent people they kidnap. The Abu Sayyaf group also has links with Al-Qaeda, the organization behind the deadly 9/11 attacks on the United States. The Philippines based group has been weakened in recent years after being on the wrong end of a U.S.-led offensive, but has still carried out activities in some parts of Philippines.
Abu Sayyaf group also kidnapped a number of foreigners in September. According to reports, two people they kidnapped were from Canada, while they also kidnapped a Filipino and a Norwegian. All these tourists were kidnapped from a beach resort in the Southern Philippines.
With Washington looking to increase its involvement in the Asia Pacific region to counter China’s influence, this could turn out to be a good opportunity for the Obama administration to step up. Washington is likely to help the Philippines fight the terrorist organization and avenge the death of the Malaysian citizen as well. The coming days will be crucial in this regard, and how Philippines tackles this issue is a test for the government in Manila, who has already pledged to take strong action against the Al Sayyaf group.