ZAMBOANGA CITY: Authorities have arrested a sub-leader of a gang linked to the 2011 kidnapping of Australian adventurer Warren Rodwell in the southern province of Zamboanga Sibugay, police said on Sunday.
The police added Hasim Calon alias Husien, who belongs to the kidnap-for-ransom group of Barahama Alih, was arrested by security forces over the weekend in his hideout in Tenan village in Ipil town.
“Hasim Calon was involved in several kidnapping incidents in the province, particularly the abduction of Joel Indino in Ipil on January 29, 2011 and Richard Warren Rodwell, an Australian who was abducted in December 2011,” said Supt. Rogelio Alabata, a regional police spokesman.
He added that policemen, backed by Army soldiers, who took part in the operation, seized crystal meth, locally known as shabu, from Calon, also a notorious drug dealer in the province.
Calon’s group also has links with the Abu Sayyaf and other bandit groups in the southern region.
Early this year, police forces killed Waning Abdulsalam – who was a former leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front – in a firefight in the village of Singkilon in the town of Naga in Zamboanga Sibugay.
Abdulsalam was one of the most wanted criminals in southern Philippines and connected also to the Abu Sayyaf. He was linked to the kidnappings of Rodwell, Irish missionary Michael Sinnott on October 12, 2009 in Pagadian City, and Italian Catholic priest Giancarlo Bossi in Zamboanga del Sur’s Payao town on June 10, 2007.
In 2012, security forces also raided Abdulsalam’s hideout in Naga and captured three of his followers after a clash in the village of Mamagon.
Last year, Senior Police officer 2 Jun Malban alias Michael Zoo, also tagged as involved in Rodwell’s kidnapping, was arrested in Lahad Datu in Malaysia’s eastern state of Sabah where he fled after being linked by authorities to the crime.
Rodwell, a former soldier in the Australian Army, was kidnapped by gunmen who posed as policemen from his seaside house in Ipil town and freed on March 2013 after his Filipino wife Miraflor Gutang paid $94,000 ransom to the Abu Sayyaf, which originally demanded $2 million.