A suspected Abu Sayyaf bandit implicated in the 2002 abduction of members of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Sulu was arrested Thursday in Zamboanga City, the Philippine National Police said.
In a statement, Senior Superintendent Wilben Mayor, spokespserson of PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, identified the suspect as Ustadz Nidhal/Nijal Pajiran alias Abdurahman and Abu Kudama.
Mayor said elements of the Police Provincial 9, Special Action Group, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine Center Transnational Crime and supported by Presidential Anti-organized Crime Commission arrested Pajiran in Barangay Tictapul in Zamboanga City.
At the time of his arrest, Pajiran was the subject of an arrest warrant issued by a Pasig Regional Trial Court for a kidnapping and serious illegal detention with random case in connection with the August 2002 abduction of Jehovah's Witnesses members in Patikul, Sulu.
The PNP statement said Pajiran is currenly under the custody of the Regional Intelligence Division, Police Provincial Office 9.
In August 2002, six members of the Jehovah's Witnesses were abducted by alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf while selling cosmetic products in Patikul, Sulu.
Based on witness accounts, two of those abducted were beheaded by the kidnappers while in captivity. The victims were rescued in Sulu in April 2003.
During court proceedings on the kidnapping case filed in relation to the incident, at least eight Abu Sayyaf members denied involvement in the abduction, some even claiming that they were illegally arrested.
Last February, the Department of Justice ordered the release of 18 men arrested for the kidnapping, citing insufficient evidence connecting them to the crime.