Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Samal gunmen not Abus, says MNLF leader

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 8): Samal gunmen not Abus, says MNLF leader

A leader of a Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction on Tuesday said the armed men who abducted three foreigners and a Filipino woman from the Island Garden City of Samal were not members of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group.

Habib Hashim Mudjahab, chair of the Sulu-based Islamic Command Council of the MNLF, cited reports reaching him that the kidnappers were “a small group” and could have handed their captives to “a much bigger and organized group of Abu Sayyaf.” He did not identify the group during the Inquirer phone interview.

Mudjahab also said he was informed by a friend in Davao that the kidnapping of Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipino Marites Flor was “masterminded by a retired military officer.”

“I was told that a retired Marine general based in Davao City was the mastermind and he operated using small and organized group to get the captives and hand the captives to another small group of young bandits in Parang, Sulu,” he said.

He said he did not know the name of the mastermind, but “I was just informed by a friend.” He added that he “cannot definitely say 100 percent that the information is factual.”

Brig. Gen. Allan Arrojado, commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu, said the military did not “have anything concrete to say” on the kidnapping. “We don’t have updates about them, we don’t know where they are now,” he said.

“What we are doing right now is focusing our efforts in combat operations against the Abu Sayyaf,” Arrojado said by phone.

Mudjahab said MNLF members were closely monitoring the kidnappers “to prevent this small group from handing over the four captives.”

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