2 Abu Sayyaf suspects accused of beheading foreign nationals surrender
Two wanted Abu Sayyaf suspects accused of beheading foreign nationals surrendered to the military Friday in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, a move authorities are calling a serious blow to the militant group.
Suspected Abu Sayyaf sub-leaders Almujer Yadah, (also called Mujer), 55, and Ben Quirino, (also called Ben Tatto), 41, walked into the army’s Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu headquarters in Jolo, Sulu’s capital town, surprising officials there.
They are considered among the “most notorious” of the group’s men, said the JTF commander in Sulu, Maj. Gen. Ignatius Patrimonio.
“They have many cases, with warrants of arrest, ranging from kidnapping for ransom and many others [against them],” Patrimonio said of the two militants, who were known to operate from the jungles of Indanan and Patikul town in Sulu.
“They are involved in the abduction and beheading of foreign nationals.”
The surrender of the two sub-leaders, which was facilitated by military and police units, has dealt “serious leadership and organization setbacks” to the Abu Sayyaf, said Lt. Col. Alaric delos Santos, JTF Sulu civil military operations officer.
The reason for the surrender? “Because they were always on the run, have no place to hide, [were] exhausted and often experienced starvation,” he said.
“They also revealed that they no longer have the support of the community and were asked to stay away from the community,” said delos Santos.
The suspects have seven standing arrest warrants against them, including for kidnapping with serious illegal detention, the complex crime of multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder, and violation of the Anti-Terrorism Act, Sulu provincial police director Col. Jaime Mojica told reporters.
Yadah and Quirino were key participants in the kidnapping and beheading of German Jurgen Kantner, he said.
The Abu Sayyaf reportedly seized Kantner and his wife, Sabine Merz, while the couple was on their yacht in Sabah in November 2016. The yacht was later found in Sulu, with the body of Merz who was shot by the perpetrators. Kantner was brought to Indanan where he was beheaded by his captors after three months, Mojica said.
Mojica said the two were also involved in the kidnapping and beheading of Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall.
Ridsdel, Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and Filipina Marites Flor were taken from a posh resort on Samal Island in Davao del Norte in September 2015. Ridsdel and Hall ended up being beheaded months later while Sekkingstad and Flor were released.
Mojica said Yadah and Quirino were also involved in the kidnapping of 21 mostly European victims at a diving resort in Sipadan, Malaysia, in 2000. They were also said to be involved in the beheading of captured soldiers.
Mojica said Yadah and Quirino were also tied to the twin bombings in Jolo in August 2020 that left 15 people dead, including soldiers, and scores others injured.
Delos Santos said Yadah and Quirino will have to face the charges against them.
“They will undergo the legal process of the law and will pay for the crime they have committed,” he said.
He said the two will be immediately sent to police custody for the legal process as they faced serious criminal charges.