ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – The most senior Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf leader Radullan Sahiron is planning to surrender, a ranking military official said.
“Radullan Sahiron is contemplating to surrender because he is already old,” according to Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., commander of Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom).
Galvez said elderly Muslim leaders have relayed to him the surrender plan of Sahiron.
Sahiron, a one-armed bandit leader, is the most senior Abu Sayyaf leader based in Sulu. He is wanted by the US government, which has offered a $1-million bounty, for the kidnapping and killing of American Jeffry Schilling in the late 1990’s in Sulu.
Galvez said Sahiron reportedly set some conditions for his surrender, including that he not be handed over to the US government.
“Sahiron wants to surrender provided he will not be turned over to the US or other countries,” he said.
Sahiron reportedly wanted the Philippine government to handle the cases against him.
Galvez believed Sahiron wanted to surrender due to old age and has gotten tired of being on the run from government forces.
The planned surrender of Sahiron cropped up after some 50 Abu Sayyaf militants from Basilan and Tawi-Tawi surrendered to the military since late last year. The most recent surrender, which happened last Tuesday night, was a batch of 11 Abu Sayyaf from Tawi-Tawi.
Galvez said another one also yielded last month in Sulu.
“For the first time one of them surrendered from Sulu. Ever since no one from the Abu Sayyaf from Sulu has surrendered,” Galvez said.
Even as Sahiron is planning to give up, the rebel forces are reportedly looking for a new leader following the killing of Muamar Askali, alias Abu Rami, by government forces.
Galvez said there are a number of Abu Sayyaf sub-leaders who are eyeing to succeed Askali, among them sub-leader Alhabsy Misaya.
“We see Alhabsy Misaya and other rising second liners. That’s why we are looking on neutralizing prominent figures like them,” Galvez said.
Aside from Sahiron and other top bandit leaders, Galvez said they will neutralize those who will be rising as next line in the Abu Sayyaf leadership.
“The Abu Sayyaf is not safe anywhere. The message is they will be hunted anywhere,” he said.
Askali was among the 11 militants killed by government troops during operations in Inabanga, Bohol.