Abu Sayyaf 'outsourcing' kidnap operations – police

ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, Philippines – The Abu Sayyaf group is reportedly "outsourcing" its kidnap-for-ransom operations, police here said on Tuesday, June 14.

Police Senior Superintendent Edwin Buenaventura C. Wagan, Zamboanga del Norte Police Provincial Director, confirmed this two days after authorities nabbed an alleged accomplice of the Abu Sayyaf in at least two kidnapping cases, Abner Gumandol.

Wagan said the Abu Sayyaf's "outsourcing" operations include hiring local criminal groups to do the "tracing" or identifying and intelligence gathering on potential kidnap victims.

He said the Abu Sayyaf also hires another criminal group to do the actual abduction as well as transporting the victim to Abu Sayyaf's hideout in Jolo or Basilan where they will be held as hostages pending ransom payment.

Another group or person is then tapped to negotiate on behalf of the Abu Sayyaf for ransom payment, Wagan said.

Authorities nabbed Gumandol, also known as "Sehar Mulok" and "Red Eye," in Barangay Kaliantana, Naga in Zamboanga Sibugay at dawn on Monday, June 12. He faces kidnapping charges for his alleged involvement in the 2015 abduction of   former  Italian missionary Rolando del Torchio and Mayor Jeffrey Lim of Salug, Zamboanga del Norte, in 2012.

Both were released after allegedly paying ransom.

Wagan described Gumandol – who is said to have more than 20 followers in Salug – as the Abu Sayyaf's "spotter" in the case of Del Torchio.

'Businessman, MILF commander'

Gumandol refused to talk to journalists, but his sister, Nur Anna, and wife Shariffa vehemently denied the allegation.

"My brother is a businessman. I know him. All the allegations they made against him are all lies," said Nur Anna as she blocked journalists from asking questions or taking photos of Gumandol in his jail cell.

Shariffa also denied that her husband is maintaining a criminal group in Salug.

"My husband is not connected with Abu Sayyaf, he is an active brigade commander of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) based in Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay," she said.

On Tuesday, the Abu Sayyaf confirmed that it had killed another Canadian hostage after the deadline on its ransom payment demand lapsed. Robert Hall was part of the group of 4 who were abducted in a resort in Samal Island in Davao del Norte in September 2015.

In April, the Abu Sayyaf killed John Ridsdel, a Canadian hostage who was part of the Samal group, after no ransom payment was made.

The Philippine government has condemned both incidents, as it vowed to end the Abu Sayyaf's “reign of terror and banditry.”  – Rappler.com