KOTA KINABALU: Police have stepped up intelligence gathering to hunt down commanders linked to the self-proclaimed Sulu sultanate across Sabah.
Deputy Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Awang Sahari EM Hadzeer said that intelligence-driven operations have been intensified to identify and locate the panglima (commanders).
The commandos, who are believed to be appointed by at least two self-proclaimed sultans of Sulu based in the southern Philippines, are reportedly in every constituency in Sabah.
“We have put this as our top priority as we will not allow any quarters to threaten the peace, stability and sovereignty of the country,” Awang Sahari told reporters after launching the state level 209th Police Day celebrations at the Kepayan state police headquarters here yesterday.
He added that the operations at the Filipino refugee settlement in Telipok near here earlier this month, where six suspects were arrested, was part of efforts to locate these Sulu panglima.
“They were initially investigated under Sosma (Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012) and were now being investigated under Prevention of Crime Act (Poca),” he added.
Police believe these panglima were operating within certain settlement areas similar to the Telipok settlement.
It is understood that six suspects arrested in Telipok were linked to the self proclaimed sultan Muedzul-Lail Tan Kiram.
Muedzul-Lail is rival to the higher profiled sultan Phugdalun Kirams family whose predecessors (older brothers) were behind the Lahad Datu intrusion in 2013.
On another matter, Awang Sahari said police had identified at least 50 members of the deviationist Islamic sect Millah Abraham in Sabah.
Information gathered showed the group comprised mainly professionals and youths.
They added there were mainly centred in Tuaran, Sandakan, Tawau and a few in Kota Kinabalu.
“We are closely monitoring the group and are also working with Jawi (Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department) so that appropriate action would be taken by the religious authorities,” he said, adding that most of the members were Sabahans.
He said they were also investigating the group’s move to buy a piece of land in Tuaran about 40km from the state capital.