MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced a breakthrough in the government’s goal “to achieve peace without bloodshed” with the surrender Wednesday, March 28, of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leader Nhurhassan Jamiri and 13 of his followers.
Jamiri and his group gave up and turned over their weapons to soldiers of the Joint Task Force Basilan, composed of the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion, 8th and 9th Scout Ranger Companies, 104th Infantry Brigade; 74th Infantry Battalion and 14 Light Armor Company.
Lorenzana’s statement said: “The surrender of notorious Abu Sayyaf leader Nhurhassan Jamiri and his entire group after successful negotiations and military operations, will hopefully bring the eventual collapse of the ASG in Basilan, restore peace and order in the province, and bring justice to the death of thousands of soldiers, who sacrificed their lives to protect our people.”
Lieutenant General Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command, told Lorenzana of the surrender of Jamiri’s group 9 am, Wednesday.
Galvez said the latest surrender of a top ASG officer, which is among a series which started in February, validated the “strategic leadership and sincerity of the Duterte Administration to solve the problem in Mindanao coupled with the strong cooperation between the LGU, AFP, PNP with the active participation of the affected communities.”
“This surrender only proves that with the President’s strategic guidance, our relentless offensives on the ground and our diplomatic approach are effective in defeating the Abu Sayyaf bandits and in addressing the internal aggression in ZamBaSulTa area,” said Galvez. ZamBaSulTa covers the areas of Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi.
The WestMinCom chief added: “Following Jamiri’s surrender, we expect the other top leaders of the Abu Sayyaf to do the same in the upcoming days.”
Brigadier General Juvymax Uy, Joint Task Force Basilan commander said Jamiri’s group “are currently undergoing custodial debriefing.”
According to the WestMinCom, Jamiri is the overall ASG commander operating in Tuburan, Albarka, Tipo-tipo, Akbar, Mohamad Adjul and Lamitan City. He is also the operations officer and chief of the ASG in Basilan. His group gained notoriety in 2002 for claiming the Fort Pilar bombing in Zamboanga City; the 2007 ambush of Philippine Marine troops in Albarka, which killed 24 soldiers; the killing of 19 Special Forces students in Cambug, Albarka, and the 2001 Lamitan Siege.
WestMinCom also blamed the Jamiri Group for hosting the Sulu-based ASG, which conducted seajacking and kidnapping of Vietnamese vessels and sailors crossing the Basilan Strait. Jamiri Group also perpetrated several IED attacks in the cities of Isabela, Lamitan, Zamboanga, as well as kidnapping-for-ransom and extortion activities in Basilan province.
Lorenzana credited the efforts of Defense Undersecretary Reynaldo B. Mapagu, as well as key security stakeholders of Basilan Province, including Gov. Jim Hataman, Vice Mayor Cherilyn Akbar of Isabela City, and Ustadz Hud Limaya, deputy commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. – Rappler.com