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Top ASG leader, 13 followers surrender to military in Basilan

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A notorious high ranking leader of the Daesh-linked Abu Sayyaf terrorist group and 13 of his armed followers have handed themselves over to the military's Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) in Basilan province

In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed that Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leader Nhurhassan Jamiri and13 of his followers surrendered to the Joint Task Force Basilan on Wednesday.

"This would lead to the collapse of the terror group in Basilan," Lorenzana said.

Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez Jr., WestMinCom Chief, also confirmed the surrender of Jamiri, who alongside with his followers yielded to soldiers of the Joint Task Force Basilan, composed of the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion, 8th and 9th Scout Ranger Companies, 104th Infantry Brigade, 74th Infantry Battalion, and 14LAC around 9 a.m. on March 28.

The group turned over 10 high powered firearms, 40 assorted ammunition magazines, 651 pieces of live ammunition, an MK52 fragmentation grenade, and eight bandoleers. The high-powered firearms consisted of seven M16 rifles, an M4 carbine, an M653 rifle, and an M14 rifle.

Jamiri is the overall ASG commander operating in Tuburan, Albarka, Tipo-Tipo, Akbar, Mohamad Adjul, and Lamitan City. He is also the operations officer and chief of the Urban Terrorist Group of Basilan.

“The surrender of notorious Abu Sayyaf leader Nhurhassan Jamiri and his entire group, after successful negotiations and military operations, will hopefully bring the eventual collapse of the ASG in Basilan, restore peace and order in the province, and bring justice to the death of thousands of soldiers, who sacrificed their lives to protect our people,” Lorenzana said.

He said Jamiri’s unit surrendered as a result of an inter-agency collaboration involving security forces and the strong support of local government units which facilitated the negotiations.

Lorenzana lauded the efforts of Defense Undersecretary for Civil, Veterans and Reserve Affairs Reynaldo B. Mapagu, Basilan Governor Jim Hataman, Isabela City Vice Mayor Cherilyn Akbar, and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) deputy commander Ustadz Hud Limaya.

Jamiri's group gained notoriety for carrying out the 2002 Fort Pilar Bombing in Zamboanga City, the 2007 ambush of marine troops in Albarka, which left 24 Marines dead, the killing of 19 Special Forces students in Cambug, Albarka, and the 2001 Lamitan Siege.

It was involved in hosting the Sulu-based ASG, which conducted seajacking and kidnapping of Vietnamese vessels and sailors crossing the Basilan Strait. Its members also perpetrated several improvised explosive device attacks in the cities of Isabela, Lamitan, Zamboanga, as well as kidnap-for-ransom and extortion activities in Basilan province.

The Jamiri Group was also involved in hosting the Sulu-based ASG, which conducted seajacking and kidnapping of Vietnamese vessels and sailors crossing the Basilan Strait.

Its members also perpetrated several IED attacks in the cities of Isabela, Lamitan, Zamboanga, as well as kidnapping-for-ransom and extortion activities in Basilan province.

Brigadier General Juvymax Uy, Joint Task Force Basilan commander, said from the rendezvous area, all the troops along with the ASG surrenderers “exfiltrated” towards the headquarters of the 9th Scout Ranger Company and the 104th Army Brigade in Tabiawan, Isabela City.

“The surrenderers are currently undergoing custodial debriefing,” Uy noted, adding that coordination with the police is also happening for the necessary legal procedures.

The surrender showed that with the President’s strategic guidance, the relentless offensives on the ground as well as a diplomatic approach are effective in defeating the Abu Sayyaf bandits and in addressing the internal aggression in ZamBaSulTa area, Galvez said.

"Following Jamiri’s surrender, we expect the other top leaders of the Abu Sayyaf to do the same in the upcoming days,” he said.

This development brings the total number of ASG surrenderers to 216, of whom 100 were from Basilan, which serves as the operational base of the ASG since 1995.

"From the rendezvous area, all the troops along with the ASG surrenderers exfiltrated towards the headquarters of the 9th Scout Ranger Company and the 104Bde in Tabiawan, Isabela City," said Brigadier General Juvymax Uy, Joint Task Force Basilan commander.

“The surrenderers are currently undergoing custodial debriefing,” Uy added. In his report to WestMinCom, Uy said that coordination with the police is also being undertaken for the necessary legal procedures.

"This surrender only proves that with the President’s strategic guidance, our relentless offensives on the ground and our diplomatic approach are effective in defeating the Abu Sayyaf bandits and in addressing the internal aggression in ZamBaSulTa area," said Galvez.

“Following Jamiri’s surrender, we expect the other top leaders of the Abu Sayyaf to do the same in the upcoming days,” added the WestMinCom chief.

The series of surrenders is attributed to strategic leadership and sincerity of the Duterte Administration to solve the problem in Mindanao coupled with the strong cooperation between the LGU, AFP, PNP with the active participation of the affected communities.

During his visit to Patikul, Sulu, on March 26, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte emphasized that he will give the Abu Sayyaf surrenderees the chance at a new life.

He also asked them to help him make Mindanao peaceful during his term.

“I don’t abhor you (Abu Sayyaf members) because I understand the situation.

As the president, I want to help you, but first, help me bring peace for the Moros in Mindanao.

"I am the only president that has a heart for the Muslims. All those who want to surrender are welcome but those who want to fight, know that the government is ready,” President Duterte said.

Just two days after the President’s visit and pronouncement, an Abu Sayyaf member surrendered in Tawi-Tawi and another did the same in Sulu.

“The surrender of Jamiri’s unit was a result of an inter-agency collaboration of our security forces and strong support of local government units which facilitated the negotiations,” Sec. Lorenzana said.

Sec. Lorenzana, lauded in particular, the efforts of Usec. Reynaldo B. Mapagu, Undersecretary of Defense for Civil, Veterans and Reserve Affairs, as well as key security stakeholders of Basilan Province, including Gov. Jim Hataman, Vice Mayor Cherilyn Akbar of Isabela City, and Ustadz Hud Limaya, deputy commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Its members also perpetrated several IED attacks in the cities of Isabela, Lamitan, Zamboanga, as well as kidnapping-for-ransom and extortion activities in Basilan province.

“Our various efforts at forging peace with various armed groups under the leadership of President Duterte are now reaping success. We hope this will continue to gain momentum in order to achieve peace without any bloodshed,” Secretary Lorenzana added. (Hader Glang)




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