The PIA quoted Maj. Eugene Batara, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom), as saying that Annik Abbas alias Abu Anek was nabbed Friday last week in Colonia village in Lamitan, Basilan.
Sobero was among 21 hostages — including American couple Martin and Gracia Burnham — taken from the Dos Palmas resort in Palawan by the Abu Sayyaf in May 2001. The beheading was announced by Abu Sayyaf spokesperson Abu Sabaya two weeks after the abduction. The American’s body was found about three weeks later.
Abbas, who was unarmed and alone, reportedly did not resist arrest. "Abbas was on his way to Sinangkapan village in Tuburan town when he was spotted by two of our men," Batara said.
Basilan Gov. Wahab Akbar described Abbas as "the most dangerous Abu Sayyaf" because of his notoriety as the one who beheaded Sobero.
Akbar said Abbas was previously arrested but escaped from prison during the 2004 jail break in Basilan.
"I am giving P1 million to the civilian informants who helped the Army's 103rd Infantry Brigade in his arrest," the Basilan governor said.
In Jolo, Sulu, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr., chief of staff of the Armed Forces, ordered his men to get ranking Abu Sayyaf leaders, including Khadaffy Janjalani, and Indonesian bomb experts Dulmatin and Omar Patek before Christmas.
"Get the high value targets before Christmas so we could enjoy the holiday break. If you cannot get the targets before Christmas, I am afraid that you'll have to stay here and operate even during the Christmas season," Esperon said in his visit Wednesday last week.
The operation in Sulu, dubbed Oplan Ultimatum, has been running for months now.