Two of the five Malaysian fishermen who were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf militant group in July last year said they were treated like slaves and often threatened that they would be beheaded.
Tayudin Anjut, 45, and Abdul Rahim Summas, 63, recounted the harrowing moments soon after arriving at the KL International Airport in Sepang on Sunday night.
Together with three other Malaysian fishermen, Tayudin and Abdul Rahim were held captive by the militant group before they were saved by Philippine security forces in the south of the republic last Thursday.
Tayudin said their nightmare began when, as the crew of a tug boat, they were taken by the Abu Sayyaf group in the waters of Dent Haven, off Lahad Datu, on July 18 last year.
Tayudin and Abdul Rahim, who now have health problems, including not being able to walk and see properly, said they were often tortured like slaves and only given leftover food by the militants and had to drink sea water.
“We were ordered to cook for them, and they only gave us leftovers to eat… if there was nothing left over, then there would be no food for us.
“Our eyes were often covered and our hands tied… we were often moved from place to place at night in the jungles,” he told reporters, in tears.
“We are very grateful to the Malaysian government and the Philippine authorities for saving us. During the eight months (in captivity), we never gave up hope and believed that we would be saved one day,” he said.
Villagers took them away, in a boat
Tayudin said last Thursday, he and Abdul Rahim were taken by villagers in a boat before they were handed over to the Philippine authorities.
“That night, we did not know that we were being saved, just like our three friends,” he said.
The two men, together with their family members, were at the prime minister’s residence on Jalan Taman Duta in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Tayudin was welcomed back by his wife Rustia Sultan, 47, and their children, Nurerin Farisha, 13, and Mohd Fahirin, 5, while Abdul Rahim was met by his daughter Rasniyati, 40, and several other family members, who all could not hold back their tears when they met.
Yesterday, Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid confirmed that the three other men who were kidnapped, Fandy Bakran, 27, Mohd Jumadil Rahim, 24, and Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 33, had also been saved on Sunday night.
Meanwhile, the relentless prayers of family members for the safe return of the other kidnap victim Mohd Ridzuan were answered when he was rescued by Philippine security forces just after midnight on Sunday.
His younger brother from Felda Jengka 7 near Maran, Mohd Raisuddin, 31, said nothing made the family happier than news of the release.
"Initially, I found out about it from a villager this morning. Then I telephoned my sister-in-law (Mohd Ridzuan's wife) who confirmed it.
"I also telephoned Esscom to be thoroughly sure. They said my brother was rescued by the security forces of the Philippines," he said.
Mohd Raisuddin said Esscom did not divulge any detail on his brother's condition as they were still waiting for full details from the Philippine authorities.