ZAMBOANGA CITY – Security forces in Zamboanga City have arrested an Abu Sayyaf militant involved in mass kidnappings in the southern Philippine province of Basilan in 2001, police said Friday.
The capture of Hussin Iril alias Ibba Gani came ahead of an anti-terrorism summit here. Iril is being implicated in the kidnappings of dozens of people, some of them brutally killed in Lantawan town after Abu Sayyaf militants raided a coconut and rubber plantation.
Police said Iril, who was captured at Paseo del Mar on Thursday afternoon, is currently being interrogated. Details of the investigation were not immediately made available by the police.
Iril was the 4th Abu Sayyaf fighter arrested in Zamboanga in recent weeks. Three other militants, who are natives of Basilan, had been captured for plotting to bomb civilian targets here. Zamboanga had been bombed many times in the past years and the threats from the Abu Sayyaf still continue.
President Rodrigo Duterte, citing fresh intelligence reports, recently said that local jihadists allied with the Islamic State, are targeting Zamboanga and Isabela City in Basilan, one of 5 provinces under the troubled Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Ulama or Muslim scholars from Zamboanga City, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces have gathered here Friday for a two-day regional summit aimed at addressing violent extremism and terrorism. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana attended the summit.
The event is an offshoot of the Ulama summit held in Cotabato City in May. Initiated by ARMM, the regional Darul Ifta, and Majlish-Shura, Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman said they are mobilizing the Ulama to spread the true teachings of Islam and counter the threat of violent extremism.
The Darul Ifta declared that “terrorism and mischief cannot be accepted as synonyms for jihad, or one of struggle’s methods, because our religion commands us to be compassionate to all beings in the land.”
It also condemned the brazen attack of local jihadists in Marawi City on May 23. The fighting has been ongoing for more than five months now and has virtually turned Marawi into a war-ravaged city similar to Mosul in Iraq.
Hataman said the summit brings together the Ulama in the region for mutual consultation and for discussions on the pressing issue of violent extremism and terrorism, as well as reach a consensus on how to protect the Muslim community in general, and determine the Ulama’s role in countering and preventing extremism in the locality. (Mindanao Examiner)
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