MANILA, Philippines -- A senior Malaysian defense official has linked Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari to the deadly standoff between Malaysia and followers of the sultan of Sulu, who have occupied a Sabah village to press their claim, according to Reuters.
On Sunday, the news service reported that an unnamed senior Malaysian defense official said "the gunmen in Sabah had links with a Philippine rebel faction leader called Nor Misuari."
"He will surely stir up more trouble," the Malaysian official said, as quoted by Reuters.
"The trouble looks to be at least partly the result of efforts to forge peace in the southern Philippines, in particular a peace deal signed between the Philippine government and Muslim rebels last October to end a 40 year conflict," Reuters said in its report.
"Jamalul Kiram, a former sultan of Sulu and brother of the man Philippine provincial authorities regard as sultan, said the peace deal had handed control of much of Sulu to Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels, ignoring the sultanate.
"The sultan loyalists had gone to Malaysia to revive their claim to Sabah as a protest in response to what they saw as the unfair peace deal, he said."
Misuari has earlier extended his support to the Filipinos who crossed to the Malaysian state of Sabah to claim the land, noting that the claimants are the rightful heirs to the land.
"May karapatan yan. Ang sulu, iyung Sultanate of Sulu ay may-ari ng North Borneo," said Misuari, also the former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
But in a report by Mindanews on Sunday, Misuari denied that he was behind the group of the Sultan’s brother, Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, but admitted that there were MNLF members who joined without his knowledge.
"That is true but I have nothing to do with their going there. I don't like to make trouble. Two hundred armas (firearms) or 100? What can you do against the Armed Forces of. (Malaysia). It's a big gamble on their (Kirams') part and it's not trademark ni Misuari maggawa ng ganyang kalokohan (to do that foolishness) ...I assure you wala talaga akong kinalaman dyan," he said as quoted by Mindanews.
Misuari also urged Malaysian Prime Minister Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, whom he claims is a distant relative and a friend to "desist from sending more forces… tone down your voice," Mindannews said.
"I don't like trouble with the (Philippine) government. I don’t like trouble with Malaysia. I want peace," Misuari was quoted to have said.