“Why would anyone, in the right frame of mind, send a tiny group of 234 militants to fight a sovereign nation with a 120,000-strong army, in the latter’s homeland? Unless, it was purposely meant to be a one-way trip. Unless it was promoted as a jihad.
Nonetheless, Islam strongly forbids the killing of another Muslim. A Muslim killing another Muslim is likened to killing the entire humanity, thus, the Sulu terrorists cannot be classified as, jihadists.
A jihadist is one who had to take up arms to defend themselves, their homes and lands against foreign invasion. The Palestinians are jihadists since they fight to defend their lands and homes from being torn down by Israeli occupiers. The Afghans are jihadists since their homeland have been invaded again and again by non-believers, who force negative western culture down their throats, against their revered religious believe.
But the Sulus? They were of a different category, altogether. Throughout the 1700s to 1900s, North Borneo was populated by (jungle Malays) Bajao, Dusun and Murut ethnic groups. Then, in early 1970s, Malaysia had encouraged (sea Malay) Sulu migration to Sabah. Malaysia provided them with jobs and homes. In addition, they (the Sulu migrants) were free to practice any religion of their choice.”
The February 9th 2013 Sulu’s invasion in Sabah struck Malaysians by surprise. Apart from Malaysia’s unprecedentedly late 2013 general election, the unexpected Sulu invasion is currently the most talk about topic.
So, who’s behind the unprovoked Sabah attack?
Apparently, there are many theories floating around, which include:
1) Malaysia’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib whose motive might be to garner the public’s unanimous support behind a show of military might.
2) Opposition leader Anwar who, during his tenure as Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, commanded international respect from the OIC, and further enjoyed close relationship with Nur Misuari, the purportedly former MNLF chairman.
3) Phillipines’ oppositions who might want to embarrass incumbent President Aquino, who is well received by the international community. (Manila is due for a general election, too.)
4) The Kirams themselves, whose large-extended family lived in poverty, ever since the formation of the Republic of Philippines. A republic’s constitution does not recognize royalty of any kind.
5) An overt operation by the American CIA so as to find reason to increase its military presence within the busy Southeast Asia sea route.
6) The Moro National Liberation Federation (MNLF), whose chairman Misuari had openly claimed ownership for both the states of Sabah and Sarawak, for himself (see previous article, Misuari On Sabah). The same Misuari who had sought sanctuary from the Malaysian government, but was instead extradited back to the Philippines, at the latter’s request. He was then sent to prison for his role in instigating a rebellion (terrorism) in the island of Jolo, during his tenure as the governor of an autonomous region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The first two, Mr Najib and Mr Anwar, would not have been good perpetrators for simple reason that Malaysia’s 13th General election could be called any day now. Winning the election by losing a state to foreign invaders would be like, winning the battle but not the war. Losing Sabah would be an unforgiveable and unforgettable crime against the people of Malaysia.
Mr Aquino, on the other hand, have had tremendous pressure from the Filipino people who lend support to Kiram’s aggression towards Malaysia. However, by sending an army to Sabah, in the pretext of helping the Filipino militants and Filipino illegals in Sabah, would amount to an act of war. Pulling his nation into a full-scale war and long-term hostility with its neighbour, would be catastrophic to the ruling government and its opposition.
What’s more, should both countries agree to revoke Madrid Protocol 1885, it would not bring additional benefits to the Philippines, as a country. While the Kirams would gain northeastern Sabah, the Phillippines stand to loose southern Palawan and the islands thereoff, to Malaysia. And it would be just a matter of time before the Kirams, together with MNLF, Abu Sayyaf and MILF retake Mindanao, Zamboanga, Basilan and the rest of Sulu islands, for themselves.
The Kirams, thus, have the motive and motivation to instigate a war, at best, for financial reasons. The once-glorious sultanate has now been reduced to….almost nothing. However, what could the Kirams do with Sabah? Managing the vast area of Sabah would be almost unthinkable, since throughout history, the Sulu Sultanate had always ruled from an island. From Jolo. (The Malay Sulu are island people.) The Kirams would neither have the experience nor the financial resources to manage a continent. So, chances are, the Kirams are just a front to a much ‘larger’ group, and became a party to the invasion, only for the money.
The CIA? Now, that’s an interesting theory. As is, the US already maintains strong military presence in the Philippines and in Singapore. The South China Sea is within its reach within an hour, at most. If the US had wanted to open another military base in northern Sabah, all she has to do is to ask. Unlike Tun Mahathir, Mr Najib is a US-friendly Prime Minister. Always eager to please the world’s remaining superpower.
So, that would leave us to the last theory: Misuari’s MNLF.
Most analysts agree that the last theory seems to be the most plausible one, since he has the motive, motivation, experience, and certainly have a lot to gain from an invasion.
After all, Misuari himself did not deny, that many of his MNLF members have joined the Sulu Terrorist Group, including his right hand man, the humble-looking but notorious General Musa. (General Musa was one of the Sulu terrorists allegedly shot during the exchange of gunfire with the Malaysia’s Security Forces.)
Misuari, according to the analysts, would have multiple reasons to support an armed invasion:
1) To avenge his humiliation being extradited back to the Philippines, only to serve prison term.
2) (Should Malaysia choose to compensate and pay ransom, the money could be used) to distribute into three parts, smaller portions to pay off the Kirams and the militants, whereas a big chunk could be used to purchase weapons and to cover daily MNLF’s expenses.
The usual kidnapping (of foreign nationals) income might not have been as hefty as ‘kidnapping’ an entire state. Hence, money would be the most ideal outcome, since Malaysia have, in the past, been known to pay ransom to the same group, in exchange to retrieving the kidnapped victims to safety.
3) Should Malaysia instead, relent and give away Sabah, although highly unlikely, what would the militants do with Sabah?
Interestingly, there’s an MNLF facebook account purportedly administered by the MNLF. The group had explicitly claimed credit for the Sabah invasion.
Should the claim be true, there are several key issues highlighted in its FB wall, which warrant due attention (see a print-screen of the FB wall, below):
1) Nur Misuari is still the de-facto leader and revered leader of the MNLF.
2) The deployment of the 234 militants was to penetrate interior Sabah, with the intention of seeking possible Filipino communities, ready for ‘uprooting’.
3) The use of the internet and social media as a means of communication and the exchange information, by the militants, across international borders.
4) And the ultimate plan for Sabah, i.e, to lease Sabah in piece-meal deals (sliced in the shape of a pizza), to other foreign nations, in order to help finance, presumably Sulus’ territorial expansion within the region.
According to the plan, Sabah (the entire state of Sabah mind you, not just the portion the Sulu allegedly claimed was ceded to them) will be leased to foreign countries. Thus, the function of Sabah in their ‘grand master plan’ is only as a means to obtain ceaseless cashflow to support a much bigger cause.
(Notice that the Sulu archipelago’s original territorial map, only dictated half of Mindanao and a third of Sabah. Now however, not only will the separatists gain the entire Mindanao, via an autonomous treaty soon to be signed with the MILF, but they are also claiming the entire Sabah. In addition, Misuari had already made his keen interest in Sarawak, known in public.)
What is their cause? To bring back the Malay Kingdom of Sulu Sultanate in an enlarged Sulu Archipelago.
Is the plan feasible? At least one analyst believes that it is, but in stages. He gave this scenario: First stage, send a small team to serve as a wake-up call. The objective is to uproot Sabah’s ethnic communities with Sulu or Philippines-origins, against the Government of Malaysia, with an undivided support from the Filipino people. Second stage, sporadic clashes to incite further hatred to the Federal government and to study the latter’s defense mechanism. Third stage, a large-scale attack.
Nonetheless, most analysts agree that the militants almost-immediate goal would be to strike some form of monetary deal with the Government of Malaysia.
Should Sabah go down, what will be next? The fight for absolute independence for Mindanao, Jolo, Palawan, Basilan, Zamboanga and the rest of the Sulu islands in the Sulu Seas.
What will go down next? Chances are, Sarawak and possibly, the rest of Kalimantan.