Philippine security forces on Wednesday captured a leader of the Abu Sayyaf terror group who is wanted in the United States and has acknowledged receiving al-Qaeda funds to finance bombings in the Philippines.
The United States offered in 2009 a US$500,000 (S$625,000) bounty for the killing or capture of Khair Mundos. US authorities said Mundos worked as a financier for the Abu Sayyaf.
Senior Supt. Roberto Fajardo, chief of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said Mundos was arrested by Army soldiers and police in the house of relatives in Parañaque City around 9:30am. Fajardo, however, dismissed speculations that the Abu Sayyaf leader was in the capital to carry out bombings and disrupt today's celebration of Independence Day.
Fajardo said the Department of the Interior and Local Government had offered 1.2 million pesos ($27,000) for Mundos' arrest.
The reward was raised to 5 million pesos after Mundos escaped in 2007.
"Mundos decided to flee to Metro Manila because authorities in Mindanao were hot on his trail," Fajardo told the Inquirer.
"We were just serving the warrants of arrest on him. It just happened that we were able to capture him a day before Independence Day," he said.
Fajardo said the arrest of Mundos, also known as Abu Ayman, was the result of surveillance work by the Intelligence Security Forces of the Armed Forces and the CIDG over two months.
The military and the police had been hunting Mundos for his alleged involvement in bombings and kidnappings in Mindanao.
Mundos is one of the highest ranking terrorist suspects to be captured in the country in recent years.
Sprung from jail
Mundos was captured in 2004 but escaped with dozens of terrorists from the Kidapawan City jail in February 2007.
"He was rescued by the Abu Sayyaf from jail," Fajardo said.
Abu Sayyaf terrorists using grenade launchers blasted their way into the jail before dawn, then pinned down a handful of guards with rifle fire while Mundos and the others fled.
"With the close coordination we had with the military, we were able to track him down in Parañaque," Fajardo said.
Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año, head of the military's intelligence service, described Mundos' capture as a major blow to the Abu Sayyaf, where Mundos had served as a top commander, expert bombmaker, financial and logistical officer, trainer and planner of attacks.