TESDA exec with alleged links to Abu Sayyaf Group nabbed

Marje Pelayo   •   June 25, 2019   •   1955

MANILA, Philippines – A high-ranking official of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) was nabbed in a joint operation by soldiers and police for illegal possession of explosives in Isabela City, Basilan.

Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Regional Field Unit 9 Chief PCol. Tom Tuzon said the suspect was identified as Muida Hataman, TESDA’s provincial director based in Basilan, believed to have links with the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

Police Colonel Bernard Banac said Hataman was arrested early morning on Tuesday (June 25) at Barangay San Rafael in Isabela City as a warrant for her arrest was being served.

Seized from the suspect several materials in making explosives such as blasting cap, chemical ingredients, four cellular phones, and two laptop devices.

“Ang suspek ay kasalukuyang nasa kustodiya ng CIDG Region 9 at sumasailalim na po sa imbestigasyon at patuloy na inaalam ang posible pang kasamahan at iba pang gamit sa pampasabog na maaari pang nakatago sa ibang lugar,” PNP Spokesperson PCol. Banac said.

(The suspect is currently under the custody of the CIDG Region 9 and is now being investigated. [Authorities] are looking into some of her possible cohorts and other explosive materials that are still being kept somewhere.)

While the CIDG already received information that Hataman is connected to an ASG sub-unit, authorities are still verifying information regarding her identity as the investigation goes on.

“Patuloy pang inaalam ng mga taga CIDG kung ano ang kanyang background, kung meron ba siyang kinalaman sa grupong ASG at (kung) mayroong kamag anak at bakit nasa possession niya ang mga naturang gamit pampasabog,” Banac said.

(CIDG personnel are still verifying her background – if she has links to the ASG, any relative and why she was in possession of bomb making paraphernalia.)

Hataman is believed to be the wife of ASG sub leader Radzmir Janatul. – (with details from Lea Ylagan)

2 Abu Sayyaf Group leaders, 6 members arrested in Sabah

Robie de Guzman   •   May 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Two alleged sub-leaders and six members of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were nabbed in Jalan Taman Sri Arjuna, Beaufort, Sabah, a military official said Monday.

In a statement, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) chief Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan Jr. said the joint operation that occurred around 3 a.m. on Saturday, May 8, was jointly conducted by troops from the AFP and the Malaysia’s Eastern Sabah Southern Command (ESSCOM).

The military identified the arrested persons as Sansibar Bensio, and Mabar Binda, both sub-leaders of the Eastern Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf Group;

Muayyar Binda, a certain Sansis, and a certain Firdaus, who are all under Mabar Binda; Lugah Sanchez and Bonijar Samsula, both members under the late ASG sub-leader Juhurim Hussein (Patikul-based); and Alim Sukarno, a member under Sansibar Bensio.

According to Joint Task Force Sulu commander Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, Bensio and Binda are both sub-leaders of the Abu Sayyaf Group/Kidnap-for-Ransom Group based on the eastern/second district of Sulu.

“They are involved in the series of armed confrontations with the military including the encounter on July 2011 at Sitio Tubig Magtuh, Barangay Panglayahan, Patikul, Sulu wherein the late 2nd Lt. Michael Baladad of the Philippine Marines was beheaded,” Gonzales said.

The military said the two were also involved in the encounters at Bay Sunog, Bud Bawis Complex in February 2018 that resulted in the deaths of five ASG members;  Sitio Jatih, Bud Bawis Complex in December 2019 that resulted in the rescue of two Indonesian nationals and the death of the late ASG sub-leader Hairulla Abduraja; and the encounter at Bay Takas, Bud Bawis Complex in November 2020 that resulted in the deaths of ASG member Bensio Barahama and sub-leader Hatib Munap Binda.

“Bensio was also involved in the kidnapping of foreign nationals identified as Lorenzo Vinciguerra (Swiss National), Ewold Horn (Dutch National), Samiun Bin Maneu (Indonesian National), Maharudin Bin Lunani (Indonesian National), and Muhammad Farhan (Indonesian National),” the AFP-WestMinCom said.

The group also victimized several Filipinos, including Ronnie Sandagon, Jerel Pepito, Eddie Reubal, Marcial España, Arvin Sabaduquia, Rufino Bustillo, Joseph Bani, Hajan Terong, Joshua Bani, and Michelle Tolentino Panes.

Binda, on the other hand, was also involved in the kidnapping of the Indonesian nationals mentioned above.

According to 4th Marine Brigade Commander Col. Hernanie Songano, the now-apprehended group of ASG bandits fled to Sabah where they established an ASG cell after they were forced out of the province of Sulu due to focused military operations and civil-military cooperation.

“The intensified intelligence operations and the support of the community coupled with the constant coordination between the AFP and the ESSCOM contributed to the successful neutralization of the ASG sub-leaders and their cohorts. The arrest of these terrorists is a big blow to the ASG” Vinluan said.

“My congratulations to the troops of the Joint Task Force Sulu and the ESSCOM for the aggressive measures taken to ensure that these terrorists will not be able to conduct horrendous activities anymore particularly off waters of Sabah” he added.

Terror threats in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi declined in past 2 years – WestMinCom

Robie de Guzman   •   May 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The number of terrorist threats observed in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao have significantly dropped in the last two years, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) chief Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan Jr. said.

Data from the military’s Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu showed that from July 1, 2020 to May 2, 2021, the force had 38 encounters with Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and has neutralized 260 of its members; 34 of which were killed, 42 apprehended, and 184 surrendered.

In the first quarter of 2021, JTF Sulu said ASG now only have 132 of its manpower compared to its 282 and 145 members in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

The military also observed a significant decrease in ASG’s firearms this year with only 147 left when it used to possess 330 weapons in 2019 and 155 in 2020.

The JTF Sulu further said that there was also no recorded terrorist acts perpetrated by the local group this year, noting that their last attack was the two explosions in Brgy. Walled City in Jolo, Sulu on August 24 last year.

According to JTF Sulu, it is its mission to conduct military operation to defeat ASG, and support the government peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in order to “significantly contribute to the peace, security, and development efforts of the Government in Sulu province.”

“Military action is only a small factor in combatting terrorism, the major factor here is the assistance (from the Bangsamoro Government),” Vinluan was quoted as saying in a statement released by the Bangsamoro government.

“We need your help to finally end the conflict in Sulu,” he added.

For his part, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Chief Minister Ebrahim said the interim Bangsamoro Government has been put to place to assure that the people gets its well-deserved peace and sustainable development after years of conflict and unrest.

“When we signed the peace agreement with the national government, we knew that this transition period would not be an easy track. We also acknowledge that there are still splinter groups and extremist organizations that would provide challenges in the process,” Ebrahim said.

“We are fortunate that in this journey, we have our dear partners from the security sector to help us out in maintaining order. Troops whom we once faced at the other side of the fence – now working with us, side by side, one in building a Bangsamoro that we can be proud of,” he added.

Vinluan and the JTF Sulu commanders paid courtesy visit to Ebrahim and other BARMM officials on Monday, May 3, at the Bangsamoro Government Center in Cotabato City.

The visit was particularly aimed at providing the BARMM government an update regarding the security situation and development challenges in the province of Sulu, a stronghold of local terrorist ASG.

 

PNP rescues 3 kidnapped Indonesians in Tawi-Tawi

Maris Federez   •   March 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Operatives of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Tawi-Tawi have rescued three kidnapped Indonesian fishermen in the municipality of South Ubian.

PLt.Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said, based on the reports that reached the PNP Command Center in Camp Crame, the Indonesian nationals were identified as Arizal Kasta Miran, male, 30 years old; Arsad Bin Dahlan, male, 41 years old; and Andi Riswanto, male, 26 yrs old.  All three are residents of Kabupaten Wakatobi Municipality, Sulawesi Tengara, Indonesia.

Arrested in the rescue operation was one of their captors, Suhud Salasim alias Ben Wagas, 45, a resident of Maimbung, Sulu.  Salasim is reportedly a member of the Abu Sayyaf group.

The three Indonesians said they were fishing in Tambisan, Sandakan in Sabah along with 5 others on January 15, 2020, when seven armed men took them by force and brought them to Sulu province.

They said bad weather caused their motorboat to capsize along the shore of Pasigan Laut, South Ubian, Tawi-Tawi, while they were fleeing from authorities.

Tandubas Municipality Police Station chief PCpt. AL Kenneth Cayanga said they received a report on Thursday at 5:30 PM about the sea mishap and proceeded to the area to conduct rescue operation.

The three Indonesians said their abductors freed three of their companions, while the other one got separated from them when their motorboat capsized. One died while their kidnappers were engaged in a firefight with AFP troops.

“The PNP in coordination with the Coast Guard is conducting search operations for other missing persons lost at sea. Meanwhile, we are also coordinating with the Indonesian government to validate the identities of the victims and find their families”, Eleazar said.

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