Saturday, May 26, 2012

Philippines nabs Abu Sayyaf suspect in 2001 kidnapping of Americans in Mindanao

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines - Philippine police have arrested an alleged Islamist militant suspected of involvement in a 2001 kidnapping that left two Americans dead, an official said Friday.

Sahibul Sailani was detained in the southern island of Basilan on Monday but police withheld the news until his interrogation was completed, said the provincial police chief, Senior Superintendent Alex Linesis.

Sailani is accused of taking part in the abduction of three Americans and several Filipinos from an upscale western Philippine resort in 2001, Linesis said.

The hostages were taken by boat to Basilan where the gunmen later beheaded one of the Americans, Peru-born Guillermo Sobero.

A second American, Christian missionary Martin Burnham, was killed the following year as government forces raided the kidnappers' hideout and rescued Burnham's wife.

The holidaymakers were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf, an extremist group set up with seed money from Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. The group has been blamed for the worst terror attacks in Philippine history.

For over a decade, US special forces have been stationed in the southern Philippines to help train the military in combating the Abu Sayyaf, although they are not allowed to have a combat role.

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