Abu suspect in 2007 Sulu beheadings nabbed in Sulu
ZAMBOANGA City, Philippines—An alleged Abu Sayyaf member, who participated in the 2007 beheadings of seven people in Sulu, was arrested Tuesday afternoon in Jolo town while scouting for possible victims, the military confirmed on Wednesday.
Colonel Jose Johriel Cenabre, deputy commander for Marine Operations of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao, said Adzar Patta Mawallil was a follower of Abu Sayyaf leader Albader Parad.
Parad’s group was reportedly behind the 2009 kidnapping of Swiss Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipina Marie Jean Lacaba, all workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The same group also snatched in 2008 ABS-CBN broadcaster Ces Oreña-Drilon, two of her news crew and university professor Octavio Dinampo.
Cenabre said authorities had received a report about a “suspicious” man going around Jolo on Tuesday.
He said that when they checked on it, they spotted Mawallil and immediately invited him for questioning.
Cenabre said a witness later identified Mawallil as a member of Parad’s group and immediately placed him under interrogation.
“The suspect was conducting surveillance in the area for possible kidnapping targets,” Cenebre said.
Mawallil, a resident of Indanan town, was “very active” in the Abu Sayyaf, he said.
In 2007, Parad’s group—which was the lesser known among the Abu Sayyaf factions—earned notoriety with the kidnapping and subsequent beheading of seven workers of a coconut milling facility in Sulu.
The Abu Sayyaf, a ragtag band of self-styled Islamists, was founded in the 1980s by Saudi-trained cleric Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, a son of a Basileño and an Ilonggo woman.
Janjalani was killed during a police operation in Basilan in December 1998.
His brother Khadaffy, who eventually succeeded him at the helm of the Abu Sayyaf, was also later killed.
The military had conducted combat operations one after another against the Abu Sayyaf and in late 2000, it declared that the group had been significantly reduced in size.
Despite this, the Abu Sayyaf continued to seize victims and the latest assessment by Asian security experts indicated that it has allied itself with the Jemaah Islamiya, Osama Bin laden’s arm in Southeast Asia.
The Abu Sayyaf is still holding a Malaysian, a Japanese and an Indian national in custody.
It also mounted a series of assaults against the military in Sulu and other areas, the latest of which was on September 25, when Abu Sayyaf gunmen, aided by former Moro National Liberation Front members, stormed a military detachment in Barangay (village) Kabungcol in Talipao town.
Thirteen of the attackers and two soldiers were killed in the incident.
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