A SUB-LEADER of the Abu Sayyaf was killed while a “trusted aide” of another sub-leader tagged in the twin suicide bombings in Sulu last month was arrested in military and police operations in the province and in Zamboanga City.
The sub-leader was identified as Arsibar Sawadjaan, a bomb-maker and a cousin of fellow sub-leader Mundi Sawadjaan. Arrested was Mundi’s aide, Hashim Saripada alias Ibnu Kashir Saripada.
Mundi has been tagged by military officials as the mastermind of the August 24 twin suicide bombings in Jolo town, which left 17 people dead, including the two female suicide bombers, and 74 others injured.
Lt. Col. Ronaldo Mateo, spokesman of the military’s Joint Task Force Sulu, said troops from the Army’s 45th Infantry Battalion clashed with about 40 Abu Sayyaf members, under leader Radullan Sahiron and the Sawadjaan cousins, at around 9 a.m. yesterday in Barangay Maligay in Patikul town in Sulu, for nearly an hour.
Pursuit operations are ongoing.
Mateo said the operation was conducted based on information provided by a “concerned citizen.”
Lt. Col. Alaric delos Santos, spokesman of the Zamboanga City-based AFP Western Mindanao Command, said soldiers recovered the cadaver of the slain Abu Sayyaf sub-leader, war materiel, and personal belongings.
Meanwhile, Saripada was arrested arrested by police operatives on Sunday morning in Zamboanga City.
His arrest was announced yesterday by PNP chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan during a press briefing at the PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
Cascolan said Saripada was arrested by operatives of the Regional Intelligence Unit 9 of the PNP Zamboanga regional police office and 84th Special Action Company in Barangay Recodo at around 6:30 a.m.
He said Saripada had an arrest warrant issued by Basilan judge Danilo Bucoy for multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder.
Cascolan said Saripada was involved in the suicide bombing near a military detachment in Lamitan City in Basilan on July 31 last year.
The Moroccan suicide bomber, Abu Kathir Al-Maghribi, blew himself up inside a van, also killing five militiamen, four civilians, and a soldier, and wounding several others.
“Investigation revealed that Saripada facilitated Al-Maghribi’s travel from Sulu to Basilan,” said Cascolan.
Cascolan also said it was Saripada and Mundi who prepared the improvised explosive devices that were detonated by an Indonesian couple at the Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu on January 27 also last year.
The suicide attack at the church claimed the lives of 23 people, including the Indonesian couple, and injured over a hundred others.
The military has also linked Mundi to the suicide bombing at the headquarters of the Army’s 1st Brigade Combat Team in Indanan town, also in Sulu, on June 28 last year. Seven died in the attack, including two suicide bombers, and nine others were injured.
Cascolan said Saripada’s arrest will affect the operation of Mundi’s group.
“Well, Saripada is the assistant, cohort of Mundi Sawadjaan. This will be a very big blow on him because he lost a trusted aide and this one is actually his assistant,” said Cascolan.
“Many of his (planned) activities may not push through because of that (arrest of Saripada) and he knows that he is being monitored by all intelligence and anti-terrorism units,” Cascolan said of Mundi.