Sunday, January 17, 2010

US warned of Terror Attack in Sabah

From: Tanki <5191 ...="""">
Subject: US warned tourists of Terror Attack in Sabah & Sarawak

By Barney Henderson in Kuala Lumpur

US embassy officials in Malaysia say terrorist groups are planning to
increase attacks in the state of Sabah.

The state famed for its dramatic mountain range, including the highest
mountain in south east Asia, Mount Kinabalu, and world class diving –
is popular among British tourists.

The US government believes that there is “present concern” that the
Abu Sayyaf group of Islamic militants, with links to al Qaeda, is
planning to attack foreign tourists in Sabah and issued a travel
notice on Friday.

“There are indications that both criminal and terrorist groups are
planning or intend acts of violence against foreigners in eastern
Sabah,” the 'warden notice’ states.

“The Abu Sayyaf Group has kidnapped foreigners in eastern Sabah in the

The Foreign Office advises caution to British travellers to Sabah,
stating that boats travelling to and from islands and dive sites are
potential targets and that attacks can be indiscriminate.

“There is a general threat from terrorism in the area,” a Foreign
Office spokesperson said. “We advice all people travelling to Borneo
to regularly check the FCO website, which is constantly updated.”

Between January and October 2009, 27,550 British and Irish tourists
visited Sabah. The region boasts a diverse mixture of rich
rainforests, picturesque mountains, miles of sandy beaches and clear
seas that are full of exotic sea life and perfect for diving.

The Sabah Tourism Board immediately refuted the US travel notice by
stating that Malaysian police and armed forces have put “extensive
measures” in place to combat terrorist attacks on tourists.

“There are no problems at all with terrorists in Sabah and Malaysia as
a whole, it is safe” Senator Datuk T Murugiah, deputy minister in the
prime minister’s department told The Daily Telegraph. “We have secured
our borders and police and armed forces are there to protect

Abu Sayyaf — which means “bearer of the sword” in Arabic – has links
to both al-Qaeda and fellow regional Islamic separatist groups, Jemaah
Islamiyah and Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

It is based in the restive southern Philippines, but the group has
been active in Malaysia.

Despite currently numbering fewer than 500 men, Abu Sayyaf has a
history of attacks on foreigners for ransom money.

In May 2001 the group kidnapped 20 people, including three Americans,
at a resort in the Philippines. One of the Americans was beheaded,
while a second was shot dead during a rescue attempt over a year

In 2000 the group kidnapped an American on the Philippine island of
Jolo and demanded that the United States release Sheikh Omar Abdel
Rahman and Ramzi Yousef, who were jailed for their involvement in the
1993 World Trade Center bombing.

“We want to fight the American people,” an Abu Sayyaf spokesman said
at the time.

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