A NOTORIOUS henchman of top Abu Sayyaf Group leader Radullan Sahiron was killed after military tracker teams hunting down prominent extremists in the country’s far south stumbled at the extremist group in a coastal town in Sulu late Friday.
Initial military reports said Alhabsy Misaya, the ASG’s most dreaded sub-leader who often sailed across the sea border and into Malaysian waters to snatch victims, was pinned down by Marine troops in the outskirts of Indanan, Sulu.
Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año confirmed the killing of Misaya whom he said was slain during military operations between the towns of Indanan and Parang in Sulu.
In Manila, Malacañang welcomed Misaya’s death, with Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella saying
“The military has confirmed the death of Alhabsy Misaya, considered the most notorious kidnapper in the Abu Sayyaf Group.
“The incident occurred in a clash with government troops late Friday evening, dealing a big blow to the notorious kidnap-for-ransom terrorist group.”
Misaya has been blamed for abductions of dozens of Malaysians and Indonesian hostages, including one who was beheaded.
Misaya’s killing came a week after security forces pinned down ASG sub-leader Muamar Askhlim alias “Abu Rami” along with seven other bandits in the Inabanga, Bohol encounter with the former.
Misaya was behind the spate of kidnappings in Sabah, Malaysia, including the abduction of five Malaysian crewmen of Tugboat Serudung in Dent Haven Tammbisan, Lahad Datu Island.
Recently, two of the Malaysian kidnap victims were rescued by Philippine Marine Ready Force Sulu led by Maj. Angcap of the Marines Special Operations Group in the waters off Kalinggalang Caluan, near Pata Island.
Recently, Misaya was tagged in the abduction of Vietnamese sailors off Basilan.
At least eight bandits under Misaya were killed during the rescue operations.
The military incurred no casualties during the latest fight with the extremist group, who were reported to have scampered in smaller groups to evade pursuing security forces, the military said.
The AFP hierarchy could not provide further details on the killing of Misaya but the military chase against bandits was continuing.
“The AFP could not provide details yet due to ongoing follow-up operations that may jeopardize its successful accomplishment,” Año said in a statement.
Año said Misaya was a Sulu-based ASG sub-leader and a native of Barangay Bunot, Indanan, Sulu.
Records showed Misaya had a standing warrant of arrest for kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
The ASG sub-leader himself was involved in many celebrated kidnapping incidents such as the Oct. 22 Malagutay bombing that killed US serviceman Sgt. Mark Jackson and the wounding of 23 others, including another US serviceman.
Misaya was also the architect of the January 2009 bombing of the Salaam Bridge in Barangay Bato-Bato in Indanan, Sulu and March 2011 bombing of Dennis Coffee Shop in the vicinity of Barangay San Raymundo, Jolo that killed four civilians and the wounding of 11 others.
Last April, military intelligence pointed out Misaya was joining the group of terrorists engaged in the foiled Bohol incident, and was spotted in Negros Oriental and nearby areas like Apo Island, Sumilon Island and Siquijor.
In the meanwhile, Abella appealed for continued understanding amid perceived terror threats in the country.
“We call on all citizens to remain vigilant, alert and watchful in cooperating with security forces to end the menace of this bandit group as government holds them accountable for their brutal and senseless crimes,” he said.
“Let us cooperate to have safer and more secure communities. This is our shared responsibility,” he added.