Former BIFF leader, 5 others, arrested in GenSan

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/16 March) – A former leader of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and five other suspected rebels believed to have coddled alleged bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman were arrested Sunday night in General Santos City.

Mohammad Ali Tambako, who is wanted for murder and double frustrated murder, and his companions were arrested by joint elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

Officials identified the five other suspected BIFF members as Mesharie Edio Gayak, Datukan Sato Sabiwang, Ali Valley Ludisima, Ibrahim Manap Kapina, and Abusahma Badrudin Guiamil.

The six suspects were riding a tricycle in Barangay Calumpang heading toward the sea port in General Santos City at 9 p.m. on Sunday when intercepted by the government forces.

The arresting team allegedly seized three fragmentation grenades and two short firearms from the suspects.

Tambako stands accused of murder and multiple murder before the sala of Judge Jorge Jabido of Regional Trial Court branch 15 in Cotabato City.

Interrogation was still being conducted to know whether Tambako’s group was planning to escape using the backdoor gateway going to Indonesia via the sea port in General Santos City or was planning to plot another terror attack.

Authorities are hoping Tamabako’s arrest would lead to the capture of Usman and BIFF founder Ameril Umra Kato soon.

Tambako, also a former member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, bolted the BIFF in November 2013 and formed the Islamic Justice Movement.

Kato established the BIFF over differences in the handling of the peace process with the Philippines government.

Like the MILF, the BIFF engaged the PNP Special Action Force in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25 who entered the town’s marshland to get Usman and another bombing suspect, Malaysian Julkipli bin Hir alias. Marwan was reported killed in the raid but Usman’s whereabouts has remained unknown.

Forty-four SAF troopers, 18 MILF rebels and five civilians died in the clash. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)