FUGITIVE Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari and an Indonesian general who was on a “secret mission” to the Philippines were instrumental in securing the release of the 10 Indonesian sailors abducted by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sulu province.
A highly-reliable source of The Manila Times said the Indonesian government sent retired Army Maj. Gen. Kivlan Zein to meet with Misuari two weeks ago to discuss ways on how to secure the release of the captives.
“An Indonesian secret mission sent to Basilan has succeeded in getting the (ASG) to released the 10 Indonesian seamen it’s been holding for almost a month. The secret mission led by Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Kivlan Zein, the closest aide of Lt. Gen (Rtd) Prabowo Subianto. Zein has said that the effort on getting the release of the hostages had been much facilitated by Imam Nur Misuari whose influence in the Muslim regions in Southern Philippines is still huge,” the source said.
Zein, he said, was in Zamboanga City on Monday, a day after the sailors were flown back to Indonesia. His “mission” was coordinated with the Indonesian Embassy in Manila, it was learned.
Zein worked with Misuari when the former led a military team sent by President Soeharto in 1995-1996 to Mindanao to help mitigate the worsening peace and order situation there. It was in 1996 that the MNLF signed a peace pact with the government that catapulted Misuari as autonomous region governor.
Misuari, who is facing rebellion charges over the deadly 2013 Zamboanga siege, was last sighted in Indanan, Sulu in February.
The Zamboanga crisis left more than 200 people dead and some P200 million worth of properties destroyed. The 20-day crisis started after Misuari’s followers tried to hoist their flag at the city hall and captured several people.
An arrest warrant was issued against Misuari and his followers in October 2013.
The hostages–Peter Tonsen Barahama, Julian Philip, Alfian Elvis, Repi Mahmud, Suriansyah Surianto, Wawan Saputka, Rilandi Bayu, Octaviayanto Wendy and Rakhadian–were abandoned near the house of Gov. Toto Tan of Sulu in the capital town of Jolo.