The Malaysian state of Sabah is at risk of more raids from Abu Sayyaf as ransom money paid to the group enables the militants to procure weapons and powerful boats to carry out kidnappings. Abu Sayyaf, according to a senior regional security source, is funded almost entirely by ransom money, which has helped turn it into one of the most dangerous militant groups in the region. He also warned that the group would continue to carry out kidnappings. "They won't stop their kidnappings. If they do, how are they going to survive?" the source told the Sunday Morning Post . "The ransom money has enabled Abu Sayyaf to enhance their capabilities, and send men to go into Sabah." Two weeks ago, the group beheaded Malaysian Bernard Then, 39, who was snatched from a seafood restaurant in Sandakan, Sabah, in May in a bold raid. He was believed to be killed as the militants had raised the ransom beyond what had been paid to them. Abu Sayyaf is believed to have good intelligence on Sabah, with the help of some locals, to help them identify their targets and target areas, according to the security source. "They know where their victim is going, what time he or she is going there. Malaysian authorities have increased their security," he said. "You need very good intelligence in order to stop and pre-empt their incursions and kidnappings." Despite frequent military operations, Abu Sayyaf still operates with full force. "There appears to be a lackof political will from the Philippines' government," the security source said. Corruption and lack of development opportunities have helped fuel Abu Sayyaf, said Maria Ressa, CEO and executive editor of Rappler.com one of the Philippines' top investigative news portals. Jobless young men, largely from Jolo, one of the most impoverished islands in the Philippines, fill up the group's rank and file, said Ressa. Ressa is also the author of Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of Al Qaeda's Newest Centre of Operations in Southeast Asia . Founded in the early 1990s with seed money from al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, Abu Sayyaf gained international notoriety for kidnapping dozens of foreign tourists for ransom in the early 2000s. It also received funding from bin Laden's brother-in-law, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, according to Ressa. "However, over time, they made kidnapping for ransom a cottage industry," she said. Ali Fauzi, a former member of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah terror network blamed for the devastating 2002 Bali bombing, used to train in the southern Philippines, where he interacted with Abu Sayyaf. He recounted how guns, bullets and explosive materials were readily available in the black market in the southern Philippines, providing Abu Sayyaf with the firepower for their terrorist activities. "Buying a gun in [the] southern Philippines is like buying a shovel or machete in Malaysia and Indonesia," he told the Post . "These weapons were sold by members of the Philippine police and military force. I myself bought these weapons," said Ali, whose older brothers, Amrozi and Mukhlas, were executed for their role in the Bali bombings. His account cannot be independently verified. However, Ressa also said Abu Sayyaf's weapons were either "captured or bought from the military or police". Ali has since left Jemaah Islamiah and is currently a member of an Indonesian non-government organisation called the Centre for Counterterrorism and Deradicalisation. Last year, Abu Sayyaf pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS). A fugitive Malaysian member of IS, Mahmud Ahmad, currently fighting with Abu Sayyaf, is planning to unite the various militant groups to form a Southeast Asian IS faction. "Mahmud has already gathered and held meetings with Rohingya, Pakistani and Indonesian militant groups in January, February and March of 2014, before he fled Malaysia for [the] southern Philippines," the regional security source said. If Mahmud succeeds with his plan, Abu Sayyaf could be set to become an even deadlier force than it is now.