AS Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leaders have started to fall one by one, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año vowed more intense operations until the terrorist group is decimated.
“We shall continue our relentless efforts until we neutralize the last ASG terrorist,” the AFP chief said over the weekend.
The recent killing of Alhabsi Misaya, an ASG sub-leader, according to Año, is a blow to the bandit band and is expected to diminish its capability to sow further terror in Mindanao in southern Philippines.
The military chief said Misaya, like Muammar Askali alias Abu Rami, who was killed recently in a clash with government forces in Bohol in the country’s Visayas region, was considered a young, bold and ruthless ASG terrorist in charge of kidnapping foreigners and is known to be a daring fighter.
“His recruitment ability also contributed in radicalizing young Tausug [an indigenous group in Mindanao]. His death will surely diminish the ASG’s capability to conduct terrorism particularly kidnapping, stop the recruitment and would lead to the eventual defeat of the whole ASG organization,” Año said.
Misaya was killed in Barangay Silangkan in Parang town in Maguindanao, a known stronghold of the bandit group affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS.
A report branded the daring military operation as an “entrapment to neutralize” one of the Abu Sayyaf’s notorious executioners.
Misaya was also linked to a spate of terrorism in southern Philippines and cross-border ransom kidnappings in Sabah, Malaysia and attacks on cargo ships off Tawi-Tawi province in Mindanao.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., AFP spokesman, said Misaya’s killing was a big plus to the military’s timeline to stamp out the terrorist group by June 30 this year.
“It also brings the community a step closer to peace, progress and sustainable security. His followers hopefully get the message that the long arm of the law will eventually catch up with them and hence, motivate them to turn a new leaf and seriously consider surrendering,” Padilla added.
“It also sends a clear message to the community that supporting criminals will not bring them a better life but only greater misery if they insist on providing them safe havens. The AFP, without doubt, communicated its serious intent in addressing the threat posed by this group and its dedication to serve and secure the people,” he said.
The AFP disclosed that military officials have received many more surrender feelers from ASG leaders. Earlier, Radulan Sahiron, a senior ASG leader, was reported to have sent surrender feelers to the military and is willing to help authorities capture or convince other commanders to surrender in exchange for amnesty.
He allegedly wanted a cut in the bounties offered by the government for other Abu Sayyaf leaders.
Sahiron is wanted by the Philippines and the United States on terrorism charges.
The US has offered up to $1-million bounty for his capture.