Abu Sayyaf's Last Known Seafarer Abductees Released

abu sayyaf group
Abu Sayyaf Group fighters (ASG file image)

Published Apr 21, 2021 12:53 AM by Ankur Kundu

On April 16, ReCAAP released its first quarter report on piracy and armed robbery targeting ships in Asia. The report marks a 39 percent decrease in the total number of incidents.

ReCAAP had previously warned of kidnapping dangers near the southern islands of the Philippines last month. In January 2020, six perpetrators armed with guns and wearing masks boarded a Malaysia-registered fishing trawler. The trawler was later found abandoned: its eight crew had been abducted by the Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf Group, notorious for its kidnap-for-ransom activities.

Three crew members were later found when Malaysian authorities mounted a search. Unfortunately, authorities found the body of a fourth crew member in September. On March 18 and 21, Philippine authorities found the remaining four crew members, ending their 14-month period in captivity. The survivors were Abu Sayyaf’s last known seafarer hostages.

Nonetheless, ReCAAP cautioned, the threat of the abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah remains high. The agency urged law enforcement agencies to enhance surveillance, increase patrols, respond promptly to incidents reported by ships and make more arrests.

ReCAAP noted that a total of 17 armed robbery cases were reported in Asian waters in the first quarter, with cases occurring in Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, Singapore Strait, and Sulu-Celebes Seas. There were no piracy incidents reported in this quarter, with all reported cases being those of armed robbery. When compared to the same period last year, there was a 39 percent decrease in the total number of incidents.

Singapore Strait continues to be one of the key areas for armed robberies, with seven incidents in three months. The count was nine incidents in 2020.