Small group ‘run by ex-Marine’ behind kidnapping of Samal tourists
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – The group that snatched three foreigners and a Filipino woman from the Island Garden City of Samal on September 21 were not members of the Abu Sayyaf, a senior Moro leader said.
Habib Hashim Mudjahab, chair of the Sulu-based Islamic Command Council, a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), said based on a report reaching his group, the kidnappers were “a small group” and did not have links with the Abu Sayyaf.
“They are not members of the Abu Sayyaf,” Mudjahab told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone on Tuesday.
He said MNLF members have been closely monitoring the group – which he did not identify – as they could hand over the victims to the Abu Sayyaf.
“They are monitoring it to prevent this small group from handing over the four captives to a much bigger and organized group of Abu Sayyaf,” he said.
Mudjahab said he was informed by a friend in Davao that the kidnapping of Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall; Hall’s female Filipina friend Marites Flor; and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad was implemented by a “small group of kidnappers” and the kidnapping was “masterminded by a retired military officer.”
“I was told 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,” Mudjahab said.
Pressed for the identity of the alleged retired Marine officer, Mudjahab said: “I don’t have his identity. I was just informed by a friend.”
He, however, said that “we cannot definitely say 100 percent these information were factual.”
Brig. Gen. Allan Arrojado, commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu, said the military didn’t “have anything concrete to say” on the kidnapping as of yet.
“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,” he said by phone.
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