Esscom’s planned Ligitan security post to be beefed up

Hazani-ligitanPETALING JAYA: The Eastern Sabah Security Command’s (EssCom) planned forward operating post on Ligitan island will be built complete with facilities and equipment to prevent the entry of criminal elements into the country, a top official has said.

The new forward post was first announced on Dec 3 following FMT’s exclusive report on a security breach by a wanted Sabahan militant entering the country from southern Philippines.

FMT had in October reported about a hostage in the Marawi war having seen the pro-Islamic State (IS) terrorist, Amin Baco, and his teenage son fighting government troops in the city this year.

The findings were reported to Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun, who later confirmed that Amin had returned as early as 2015 from southern Philippines to fetch his son, believed to have been staying with his wife on Sebatik island, off the coast of Tawau.

Ligitan island is situated in the Celebes Sea between Sebatik island and southern Philippines.

FMT had then contacted Esscom commander DCP Hazani Ghazali about the matter, who admitted that Amin had breached security. Hazani then revealed to FMT the plan to build the forward post on Ligitan to curb the movement of militants.

In an interview aired on TV3 yesterday, Hazani was asked to comment on several matters including the planned security post on Ligitan island.

“Ligitan island is Malaysian territory following a decision of the ICJ (International Court of Justice) and is the farthest Malaysian island bordering both the southern Philippines and Indonesia,” Hazani said during the interview.

“We have received info that the island is a staging point for illegal immigrants and people with immoral activities to enter Sabah.

“Criminal elements would go along the southern Philippines-Malaysia maritime border and finally stage on Ligitan before entering Malaysia.

“That’s why we want to have a forward post there complete with all suitable equipment and facilities such as a jetty where boats can dock. We feel that a forward operation post has to be made there,” Hazani said.

Not tourist island

Hazani further said relevant agencies, such as the immigration and customs department, would also build facilities on Ligitan island.

“Ligitan island is not a tourist island, like Sipadan, where day-time-only tourism activities, such as diving and snorkeling, are held. We have a post there,” he said.

“Esscom elements will at all times be mobilised in Ligitan where checkpoints will be built by certain agencies against illegal immigrants and smugglers from both neighbouring nations who like to use the island as their staging point.”

Amin, from Tawau, was reported by the Philippine military to have been killed at the end of the Marawi conflict on Oct 23.

Later, the authorities revised their statement, saying Amin could still be alive and in fact be one of several IS regional leader candidates following the death of the the terror group’s emir-designate for Southeast Asia Isnilon Hapilon towards the end of the war.

Bukit Aman counter-terrorism chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay last month revealed Amin’s son is still alive and may be in Basilan province.

The former hostage later told FMT he believed Amin, if still alive, must be on the island province too because he and his son had never left each other’s side during the Marawi war.

Apart from his Malaysian wife on Sebatik island, Ayob Khan revealed Amin has a Filipino wife, the daughter of Isnilon, which terrorism analysts said made Amin an even stronger candidate to succeed his father-in-law as the new emir.

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