Rajah Solaiman Movement leader nabbed in Zamboanga City
ZAMBOANGA CITY—Police authorities announced the arrest of a leader of the so-called Rajah Solaiman Movement during a police operation here on Friday.
Supt. Roger Sebastian of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) said Melquiades Pabico Abrera II, also known as “Mel,” “lolo” and “Mikhail Abdul Asis Abrera,” was collared in Barangay (village) Sta. Barbara here around 6:30 a.m. on Friday.
“He is known as the architect and planner of the Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM),” Sebastian said.
Abrera, a native of Antipolo City, yielded a caliber .45 pistol with defaced serial number, two hand grenades hidden in a belt bag, and two cellphones, he said.
Sebastian said a follow-up operation was being conducted by police and members of the Task Force Zamboanga to locate and arrest Abrera’s companions, who eluded arrest.
RSM is an organization founded by Ahmed Santos in 1991 and is made up of Filipino Christians, who converted into Islam. It reportedly gets its fund from the Jemaah Islamiya and its members get training from the Abu Sayyaf.
It was allegedly behind the 2004 Superferry bombing that killed 116 people.
The group was also blamed for the 2005 Valentine’s Day explosions that killed four people and injured 60 others, and the 2003 bomb attack at the Awang Airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.
In 2014, security officials said the RSM was planning to sow terror in Metro Manila through bombings.
The plot was allegedly uncovered from documents seized from Ricardo Ayeras and two companions, who were said to be fresh RSM recruits, during their arrest in Quezon City in October of that year.
The US Embassy in Manila also regarded the RSM threat as real when it issued an advisory “to remind all US citizens to remain vigilant and maintain an appropriate level of personal security in all circumstances by reviewing your personal security plans; remaining aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitoring local news sources for updates.”
Several RSM leaders had already been arrested in the past – including Santos, whose real name was Hilario, and RSM co-founder Ruben Omar Pestano Lavilla Jr. alias Sheik Omar in 2005 – but many of its pioneering members remain at large. They included Santos’ brother, Tyrone who is also known as “Dawud.”