Abu Sayyaf man in kidnap of bird watchers falls
ZAMBOANGA CITY—The leader of an Abu Sayyaf faction involved in the kidnapping of two foreign bird watchers in 2012 has been arrested, authorities said Thursday.
In a report, the Western Mindanao police said Haik Asgali, alias “Abu Aswad,” was arrested by soldiers and police in a joint operation in downtown Jolo at around 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
The operation was backed by a warrant for kidnapping against Asgali issued by a court in Patikul town, Sulu province.
In its report, police said Asgali was “directly involved” in the kidnapping of Dutch national Ewold Horn and Swiss national Lorenzo Vinciguerra, both bird watchers, in 2012.
Asgali, according to the police report, led the Abu Sayyaf team that kidnapped the two foreigners.
The foreigners were on their way to Bongao town, Tawi-Tawi, after documenting bird species in the province when they were snatched by armed men.
According to police, Asgali is a “trusted operative” of an elusive Abu Sayyaf leader and one of the country’s most wanted men, Radulan Sahiron.
Asgali is currently undergoing interrogation in an undisclosed location and will be transported to this city.
Members of the Abu Sayyaf, a criminal group with links to the al-Qaeda terror network, are holding for ransom more than a dozen captives. US-backed military offensives have crippled the group in recent years but it remains a key security threat. Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao
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