The Christian-majority Philippines has a Muslim minority largely
based in its resource-rich southern islands where Muslim rebels have
been fighting for autonomy for years.
The head of military intelligence, Major-General Eduardo Ano, said
the captured militant, Khair Mundos, was an expert bomb-maker and
the "spiritual leader" of the Abu Sayyaf faction, which rose to
notoriety early last decade by kidnapping foreigners.
"This is a big blow to their organisation," Ano told reporters.
"They lost one of their leaders and they now feel insecure. We will
try to get them one after another, we will not stop."
The United States had offered a $500,000 bounty for the arrest of
Mundos. The Philippines offered 5 million pesos ($114,400) for his
re-capture after he escaped from prison in 2007.
Mundos fled from the southern Philippines as security forces closed
in on him and had been in hiding for months with relatives in the
Manila suburb of Paranaque City, Ano said.
Soldiers and policemen swooped on his hideout and grabbed him early
on Wednesday. Security forces seized four guns as well as training
manuals used by the Indonesian militant group Jemaah Islamiah.
"We finally tracked him down," said Benjamin Magalong, head of
police criminal investigation group. "This is a product of two
months surveillance work."
Mundos had raised funds for the Abu Sayyaf in the Middle East and
funneled money from al Qaeda for bombings in the southern
Philippines before his first arrest in 2004.
[to top of second column]
In 2001, Mundos bought a speed boat used in a raid on a Philippine
island resort in which several tourists, including three Americans,
were kidnapped. One American woman was rescued a year later but two
Americans including her husband were killed.
The militants are currently holding three people from China, one
from Japan, one from the Netherlands, one Swiss and two Germans,
Philippine officials say.
(Editing by Robert Birsel)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.