‘Abus high in battle’
The Abu Sayyaf terror group is believed to be using illegal drugs to lure new recruits and to fund its operations, the military said on Thursday.
Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS)—headquartered at Camp Bautista in Sulu—said military units based in Zambasulta (Zamboanga, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi) told of engaging mostly young recruits who were “most probably high on certain drugs, particularly ‘shabu,’” as evidenced by paraphernalia found among the belongings of slain Abu Sayyaf members and in their camps.
“Drugs are being used to lure youngsters who may have been given ‘shabu’ for free and are recruited once they become addicted,” the JTFS said. “Reports also indicate that money generated from ‘shabu’ is used to finance the group’s daily operations.”
In its report to Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, the JTFS said this was also indicated by several former hostages of the terror group.
It cited Indonesian hostage Herman Bin Manggak who said in his debriefing that up to seven Abu Sayyaf members guarded him during his captivity and he saw them taking “shabu.”
Talking to interpreters, Manggak said he was nearly rescued three times by government troops who engaged the terrorists in gun battles. In those instances, Manggak said, he saw how the drugs affected the rebels who treated the gun battles like a game.
The JFTS said the proliferation of drugs in Zambasulta was believed to be a result of a tie-up between the Abu Sayyaf and drug lords.
In Sulu, for instance, several antidrug operations by joint police-military forces resulted in big drug hauls and the deaths of some suspects and government troopers.
The latest fatality in the drug war in Sulu was PO2 Tirso Montalba, 27, of the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force.
In an operation on Saturday in Barangay Kaunayan, Patikul, suspected drug dealer Anuddin Akiran Daharani fired the first shot that killed Montalba but he was also killed in the fire fight.
In Zamboanga City, Abu Sayyaf member Arnisar Dangsani Ismaluddin was arrested by police in a buy-bust operation on Tuesday. Cynthia D. Balana