Khair Mundos, a leader and key financier of the notorious Abu Sayyaf Group who carries a $500,000 US government bounty on his head, was arrested Wednesday morning at his hideout in Barangay San Isidro, Paranaque City.
Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Major General Eduardo Ano said Mundos was arrested at around 9:45 a.m. after months of surveillance by army intelligence.
“It’s our Army intelligence unit that worked hard to pinpoint the whereabouts of this notorious Abu Sayyaf leader and they were able to pin him down at his safe house in Paranaque,” Ano said.
Also with the military arresting team were members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection
Group of the Philippine National Police.
PNP CIDG Chief Sr. Supt Benjamin Magalong said Mundos was arrested while “casually” walking along A. Bonifacio Extension St. in Barangay San Dionisio in Paranaque, just a few meters from the house of his relatives where he was staying.
Magalong said the arrest was covered by a warrant for multiple murder and frustrated murder issued by the Regional Trial Court 12 Branch 17 in Kidapawan City.
Recovered from Mundos’ possession were several Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) cards believed to have been used in the remittance of foreign funding for the ASG’s operations in Basilan and Sulu.
The military, however, has yet to determine whether the ATM had been recently used to withdraw cash from ASG supporters as Mundos has allegedly strong connections with financiers from Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.
Mundos also yielded a cellular phone with several SIM cards when seized by authorities.
Mundos reportedly did not resist arrest when captured. Photos released by police after Mundos’s arrest showed him clean shaven and muscular.
The US State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” website describes Mundos as a “key leader and financier of the ASG, which has carried out deadly bomb attacks and kidnappings, targeting foreigners and Christians.”
Aside from the US reward, the Philippine government also offered P5 million for Mundo’s capture.
Ano said Mundos was forced to flee Mindanao because he was already “too hot to handle” in Basilan and Sulu.
But Ano quickly dismissed talks that Mundos is here in Metro Manila for a bombing mission.
“No, no that’s not true. He’s here to hide,” he said.
Ano said Mundo’s arrest will certainly affect the morale of ASG members.
Ano added that Mundos was one of the best students of Jemaah Islamiya, a terror group based in Southeast Asia with links to the larger Al-Qaeda jihadists terror group.
Mundos was captured in 2004 in Mindanao and brought to trial in the “first-ever money laundering charges against terrorists”, according to the “Rewards for Justice” website.
The website said Mundos confessed in custody to having arranged the transfer of Al-Qaeda funds to the Abu Sayyaf’s top leader for bombings and other criminal acts throughout Mindanao.
But Mundos, along with other militants, escaped from Kidapawan City prison in Mindanao in February 2007.
Muslim insurgents using grenade launchers blasted their way into the jail before dawn, then pinned down a handful of guards with rifle fire while Mundos and the others made good their escape.
Mundos is one of the three main Islamist ideologues of the Abu Sayyaf, according to military intelligence officers. His brother, Burham Mundos, is also a key financier with direct links to the JI.
Meanwhile, an alleged terrorist with links to JI was among those wounded during a clash between Bangasamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and army troopers who assaulted the rebels’ hideout in Maguindanao.
Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the army’s 6th Infantry Division identified the alleged terrorist as Abdul Basit Usman, reportedly a bomb expert from JI who was wounded in the firefight against government forces in Libutan Village, Maguindanao Tuesday morning. With AFP
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