Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the RM12 million raised by the families of hostages recently freed by the Abu Sayyaf was given to an Islamic body in the Philippines.
However, he stressed that the payment was not ransom to secure the four Sarawakian hostages’ release.
“The government decided not to pay ransom, and police adhered to this order.
“The money raised was from public donation and assets sales (by the hostages’ families), and I can confirm that it was channelled not as ransom, but to a body in the Philippines which assists in an Islamic struggle.
“The body has no links to terrorists or criminals,” Berita Harian reported Zahid as saying in Putrajaya today.
This comes after the hostages’ families said they passed RM12 million to police Special Branch officers to pay the ransom.
The families clarified the matter after those who contributed demanded to know what happened to the cash, since police said the four were released without any ransom paid.
The four Sarawakian sailors were abducted by the Philippine-based militant group on April 1, from a tugboat off the coast of Pulau Ligitan, Sabah.
The four were Wong Teck Kang, Wong Teck Chii, Johnny Lau, and Wong Hung Sing.
The Abu Sayyaf group had reportedly demanded a ransom of RM18 million, and their families turned to the public for help.