MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) beheaded a soldier who was once a member of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
The body of Staff Sergeant Anni Siraji of the 32nd Infantry Battalion (32IB) was recovered by the military in Patikul, Sulu on Sunday afternoon, April 23.
Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, Commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said it appears that Siraji was killed around 3 days ago.
“Based on our assessment, 3 days na eh, state of decomposition na ‘yung kanyang remains… ‘Yung ulo, 50 meters ‘yung distance [sa] body,” Sobejana said.
(Based on our assessment, it’s been 3 days since he was beheaded because his remains were already in a state of decomposition… His head was 50 meters away from his body.)
Sobejana also said members of the local terrorist group apparently rushed away after the beheading.
“Hastily done dahil sa continuous operations namin,” he said. “Pinugutan nila tapos biglang alis… Talagang makikita mo very hasty ‘yung pagkakagawa, ibig sabihin they were running away from us.”
(It was hastily done because of the continuous operations of the military against them. They beheaded the soldier then fled… You can really see that it was done in a very hasty manner, which means they were running away from us.)
Siraji had been abducted by the Abu Sayyaf last Thursday, April 20, while on the road heading to Barangay Igasan in Patikul.
“Talagang we condemn itong barbaric acts na ginagawa ng mga Abu Sayyaf… Kapareho nilang Tausug pero ginawa pa rin nila ‘yung karumaldumal na pagpugot,” said Sobejana.
(We condemn the barbaric acts of the Abu Sayyaf members… He was their fellow Tausug but they still beheaded him.)
Sobejana added that Siraji had been instrumental in peace initiatives.
“Ginagamit namin to engage the stakeholders dahil kapareho nilang Tausug, at nakikita nilang effective itong tao and he significantly contributed na magiging ‘yung community will not give support to the ASG. Kaya nasasaktan ‘yung ASG dahil nawalan sila ng community support,” he said.
(Siraji engaged the stakeholders effectively because the people saw he was their fellow Tausug, and he significantly contributed to ensuring the community will not give support to the ASG. It was a blow for the ASG because they lost community support.)
‘No honor, no shame’
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman strongly condemned the beheading.
“These acts of violence, acts that go against the grain of our humanity, continuously hamper our efforts towards peace and justice within our shores. These bandits – cowards who have no honor and no shame – have betrayed the cause which our most faithful mujahideens have fought for,” Hataman said in a statement on Sunday.
“These terrorists have no claim to the values of Islam, nor to the brave and dignified history of our people.”
Hataman also said the ARMM regional government would continue to support all efforts against terrorism.
The military has been working hard to meet a self-imposed deadline to crush the Abu Sayyaf by June 30. – Rappler.com