By: Elena Grace Flores
Malaysia’s deputy prime minister claimed that the RM12 million was handed over to the Special Branch for contribution to Philippine organizations who helped with the negotiations to free the four Malaysians hostaged by Abbu Sayyaf. He denied that it was ransom. However, the Filipino groups have no links to the terrorists. The Special Branch mentioned is Malaysia’s intelligence service.
As Manila Times reported; “The ransom payment has triggered a political firestorm in Malaysia because of the contradictory statements issued by government officials. Home Minister Hamidi disclosed that the funds were turned over to the Special Branch, which presumably turned them over to the Abu Sayyaf. Lau, who represented the families of the four hostages, even narrated that two Special Branch officers, with an approval letter from Bank Negara, withdrew the sum and carried them in 12 metal cases to the police station.”
The first claim was denied by Malaysia’s Police Inspector-General Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar that the Special Branch did not receive such money, and he insisted that no ransom was paid. He explained that the Abu Sayyaf released the hostages after the Malaysian government threaten to stop the Malaysia-Mindanao barter trade – which no person in his right mind would believe. Can the Malaysians be funding the Abbu Sayyaf to create instability in Mindanao to instill their illegal Sabah ownership? Very possible indeed!