Umra or Umbra? What is rogue commander Kato’s real name

MANILA, Philippines - For many years, one of the country's most wanted men was referred to as Ameril Umbra Kato. This year, when the 65-year-old veteran combatant became more accessible for media interviews, he recited a different name. He is Umra, not Umbra.

MANILA, Philippines – For many years, one of the country’s most wanted men was referred to as Ameril Umbra Kato.

This year, when the 65-year-old veteran combatant became more accessible for media interviews, he recited a different name. He is Umra, not Umbra.

Still, Kato’s previous name has not been easy to shake off. Intelligence reports and some media groups still refer to him as Umbra – with a ‘B’.

The confusion usually comes from these names’ Arabic roots. Radulan Sahiron, a senior leader of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group, is sometimes referred to as Raddulan or Radullan.

As for Kato, part of the reason Umbra – the one with a ‘B’ – was used for a long time was because he had been on the run. He never had the chance to correct it himself.

In July, Kato told Newsbreak‘s Beth Frondoso and other reporters who interviewed him at Camp Omar in the rolling hills of Maguindanao that his real name is Umra – without a ‘B’.

Kato heads the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), which broke away from the separatist group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) due to policy differences with the MILF leaders.

The MILF leaders have agreed to a ceasefire as they pursue an over a decade-long peace negotiations with the government. Kato claimed he had been sidelined in these talks since he was adamant about pursuing independence for the Bangsamoro people.

The split has been a “cause for concern” for the government. Kato’s group has been listed as a potential reason for failure of the peace talks and the ceasefire regime.  

Kato has been wanted for a series of attacks on civilians in 2008, when a proposed homeland deal with the MILF did not push through.  

On Nov. 25, 6th Division Commanding Officer Brig. Gen. Ray Ardo quoted intelligence reports saying Kato had suffered from a mild stroke. BIFF spokesperson Abumisry Mama denied reports that Kato had died. He insisted that their leader did not have a stroke but just suffered from asthma and overfatigue. – Move.PH

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.