ZAMBOANGA CITY: Security forces arrested four Abu Sayyaf members in separate operations in Zamboanga City, police and military officials said on Monday.
Capt. Franco Suelto, a spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division, said Sattar Abdulla alias Abu Sattar was arrested in the village of Tumalutab on Sacol Island at dawn on Sunday after long intelligence surveillance.
He said Abdulla, an Abu Sayyaf financier, is also tagged as behind several kidnapping cases in the region.
“Elements of 1st Military Intelligence Battalion, Army Task Force Zamboanga, Police Regional Office 9, Zamboanga City Police Office and supported by Presidential Anti-organized Crime Commission apprehended a hardcore Abu Sayyaf Group/Kidnap-for-Ransom-Group financier in the vicinity of Tumalutab around 2:20 in the morning of June 22,” Suelto said.
He said Abdulla is facing six counts of “kidnapping and serious illegal detention with ransom” and that a warrant for his arrest was issued by Judge Toribio Ilao, of Branch 266 in Pasig City.
Suelto said Abdulla is currently being interrogated by the police in Zamboanga City.
Colonel Aminkadra Undug, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, commended troops and policemen involved in the capture of Abdulla.
“The capture of the Abu Sayyaf [member]is the result of successful joint law enforcement operation through Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Council of the Philippine Army and Philippine National Police,” he said.
Inspector Dahlan Samuddin, a regional police spokesman, said three more Abu Sayyaf militants involved in kidnappings for ransom were also arrested by the police and military in the village of Maasin late Sunday.
He said the trio—Jerry In–timani, Sammara Akdaw, and Gaber Mastukan—were being investigated by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group under Superintendent Luisito Magnaye, the regional commander, who led the operation.
Magnaye said two .45-caliber pistols and a hand grenade were seized from the militants.
“Prior their arrest, joint police and military intelligence operatives were able to monitor the trio in Zamboanga City after the informers tipped off law enforcers regarding their presence in the city,” Samuddin said.
He said the three militants were planning to strike in Zamboanga.
“Due to intensive intelligence surveillance, the combined law enforcers were able to locate the safe house of the militants, thus, search warrant was applied and was served on Sunday evening, which resulted to their arrests at their safe house,” Samuddin added.
About two dozen Abu Sayyaf militants whose group is tied to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya had been captured by security forces in Zamboanga City since early this year.
Filipino authorities have blamed the Abu Sayyaf for the spate of terrorism and ransom kidnappings in the southern Philippines and in Sabah in Malaysia.