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‘Habal-habal’ driver held for Zambo hotel bombing

09:13 PM November 30, 2011

ZAMBOANGA CITY—Authorities here yesterday presented as a bombing suspect a man who earns a living giving motorcycle rides to passengers and who had been arrested but freed for lack of evidence on a previous bomb attack that killed a US Green Beret.

Police said Hussein Ahaddin, who drives a contraption called habal-habal here, was also involved in last Sunday’s bombing of a pension house here that killed three people attending a wedding party.

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Chief Supt. Felicisimo Khu, head of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations (Dipo) in Western Mindanao, said Ahaddin goes by the alias Abu Tiih. “He is one of the vital members of the bombing cell of the Abu Sayyaf,” said Khu.

Khu said Ahaddin previously worked with terror suspects Ustadz Abdullaj Ajijul, alias Abu Termije, and Amilhamja Ajijul, alias Alex Alvarez, and Abu Jamil. Both Ajijuls had been killed by authorities in pursuit operations.

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Ahaddin denied any link with the Abu Sayyaf and involvement in bombings here.

“I have no idea why they always arrest me. I was discharged before because they did not find evidence against me,” he said, shouting back answers to reporters’ questions as he is being led to jail.

Harija Ahaddin, his wife, said she and her husband were watching television at his sister’s house when the arresting team came.

“He would not commit a crime to support his family. He would rather do jobs for our neighbors to earn money,” Harija said.

Khu said Ahaddin, 39, had been released because of a favorable court ruling on a petition for habeas corpus.

According to Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Ahaddin was captured in a hideout of the Abu Sayyaf in the city last Tuesday. Ochoa, who heads the Anti-Terrorism Council, said Ahaddin belonged to an urban-based group of Abu Sayyaf fighters behind bombings and extortion.

Ochoa said authorities have panned out in search of Ahaddin’s companions hiding here, a bustling port city 860 kilometers south of Manila.

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Authorities appealed the court decision and won a warrant for Ahaddin’s arrest on March 13, 2010, said Khu.

Supt. Edwin de Ocampo, city police chief, said Ahaddin acknowledged involvement in at least two of the bombings—the one that killed the Green Beret and another on a shopping district here that killed seven people both in 2002.

De Ocampo, however, said Ahaddin refused to admit involvement in last Sunday’s bombing of the Atilano Pension House here.

“We don’t have witnesses to prove that (his involvement in last Sunday’s blast) but we have some witnesses against him in past bombings,” said Khu. Reports from Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao, and AP

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TAGS: abu sayyaf, Crime, Terrorism
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