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Sulu-Celebes Developments

August 31st 2017
The trilateral patrols between the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia continue to suppress criminal activity in the Sulu-Celebes region, with no recent reports of action against merchant vessels in these waters.

The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), affiliated with Daesh/ISIS continues to operate in the area, however, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are conducting operations against them in multiple areas. Given the continued threat posed to small craft and private citizens, the Malaysian authorities issued guidance towards the end of August which can be found in CSO Chatter


Additionally, the curfew in seven districts under the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone), has been extended until September 11th. Given there has been little movement by Abu Sayyaf, the chances are that this will be continued throughout September, too.

While ASG has not kidnapped any crew in recent months, they have been conducting vicious attacks against civilians and the military, often beheading their victims before fleeing. ReCAAP has issued several warnings and advisories for the region due to the nature of the threat. Given their organization is partly funded by ransom payments, it is likely they will continue this ‘business model’ when the opportunity allows. CSOs and Masters should be extremely vigilant if transits are planned through this region, and CSO Alliance advises all risk assessments be updated regularly to ensure domain awareness.