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Philippines captures Abu Sayyaf leader with $500k bounty
Publication Date : 12-06-2014
Khair Mundos is wanted in the US and has acknowledged receiving al-Qaeda funds to finance bombings in the Philippines
Philippine security forces on Wednesday captured a leader of the Abu Sayyaf terror group who is wanted in the United States and has acknowledged receiving al-Qaeda funds to finance bombings in the Philippines.
The United States offered in 2009 a US$500,000 bounty for the killing or capture of Khair Mundos. US authorities said Mundos worked as a financier for the Abu Sayyaf.
Senior Supt. Roberto Fajardo, chief of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said Mundos was arrested by Army soldiers and police in the house of relatives in Parañaque City around 9:30am. Fajardo, however, dismissed speculations that the Abu Sayyaf leader was in the capital to carry out bombings and disrupt today’s celebration of Independence Day.
Fajardo said the Department of the Interior and Local Government had offered 1.2 million pesos ($27,000) for Mundos’ arrest.
The reward was raised to 5 million pesos after Mundos escaped in 2007.
“Mundos decided to flee to Metro Manila because authorities in Mindanao were hot on his trail,” Fajardo told the Inquirer.
“We were just serving the warrants of arrest on him. It just happened that we were able to capture him a day before Independence Day,” he said.
Fajardo said the arrest of Mundos, also known as Abu Ayman, was the result of surveillance work by the Intelligence Security Forces of the Armed Forces and the CIDG over two months.
The military and the police had been hunting Mundos for his alleged involvement in bombings and kidnappings in Mindanao.
Mundos is one of the highest ranking terrorist suspects to be captured in the country in recent years.
Sprung from jail
Mundos was captured in 2004 but escaped with dozens of terrorists from the Kidapawan City jail in February 2007.
“He was rescued by the Abu Sayyaf from jail,” Fajardo said.
Abu Sayyaf terrorists using grenade launchers blasted their way into the jail before dawn, then pinned down a handful of guards with rifle fire while Mundos and the others fled.
“With the close coordination we had with the military, we were able to track him down in Parañaque,” Fajardo said.
Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año, head of the military’s intelligence service, described Mundos’ capture as a major blow to the Abu Sayyaf, where Mundos had served as a top commander, expert bombmaker, financial and logistical officer, trainer and planner of attacks.
The US state department says Mundos has been charged with money laundering and once acknowledged in custody that he arranged the transfer of al-Qaeda funds to the Abu Sayyaf to finance bombings and other attacks in the Philippines.
Washington has declared the Abu Sayyaf a terrorist group and blames it for deadly attacks on American troops and civilians in Mindanao.
Mundos has led Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Basilan province and is known to have links with members of the Southeast Asian terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah.
A senior police official, who asked not to be identified for lack of authority to speak to reporters, said Mundos was a “notorious bomber” who was trained by the Jemaah Islamiyah.
“Mundos enjoyed the trust and confidence of the Jemaah Islamiyah, which trained him in bombmaking. He is also known to be a hardcore terrorist,” the official said.
Too hot in the south
Director Benjamin Magalong, CIDG chief, said Branch 17 of the Kidapawan City Regional Trial Court had issued warrants for the arrest of Mundos and several Abu Sayyaf bandits for murder and multiple attempted murder.
“It was getting too hot [in the south] so he came here while waiting for things to cool down,” Fajardo said.
Mundos did not resist arrest, according to another senior police official involved who asked not to be named.
Photos released by police after Mundos’ arrest showed him clean shaven and muscular.
Fajardo said police were looking into reports that other Abu Sayyaf terrorists had sought refuge in Metro Manila, staying with in-laws or other close relatives.
“Aggressive law enforcement operations are driving the Abu Sayyaf out of their hideouts in Mindanao. That’s why it’s possible that they have fled to Metro Manila. They are very mobile,” Fajardo said.–With reports from agencies