MANILA, Philippines - Police and military operatives arrested on Thursday a suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf in Zamboanga City, a police official said on Saturday.
Police Director Samuel D. Pagdilao Jr., Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief, said Isnajir Sakkam, alias Abu Fatima, was arrested at the Zamboanga City public market after civilian agents tipped off authorities on the suspect's whereabouts.
"Members of the CIDG's Community Investigative Support (CIS) group and two witnesses under the government witness protection programme positively identified the suspect as being under the command of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon in Basilan," Pagdilao said.
The suspect, a resident of Rio Hondo, Zamboanga City, was nabbed at around 7:30 a.m. on Thursday by members of the CIDG, Air Force intelligence and the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime.
Sakkam, wanted for kidnapping and serious illegal detention, was among the Abu Sayyaf members involved in the hostage-taking incident at Golden Harvest Plantation in Barangay Tairan, Lantawan, Basilan, in June 2001, police said.
Police Senior Supt. Edgar C. Danao, CIDG-Region IX chief, said the suspect was still "fairly young at that time" but was one of those seen carrying high-powered firearms among the Abu Sayyaf members.
At that time, the bandits had kidnapped a 14-year-old boy and held him captive together with other hostages in the mountainous areas of Lantawan, Isabela, and Sumisip, in Basilan, for four months.
Pagdilao lauded the efforts of the CIS in helping arrest Sakkam, who has been on the run for years.
The CIS, an anticrime organisation composed of more than 15,000 members nationwide, has been assisting the CIDG in arresting fugitives, busting criminal gangs and confiscating loose firearms.