The leader of a Philippines militant group who has been linked to a series of beheadings, surrendered and was taken into police custody Thursday after suffering a gruesome injury in battle.
Abduljihad Susukan is the highest-ranking leader of Islamic rebel group Abu Sayyaf, which was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the United States in 1997, to have been taken into police custody this year, the Associated Press reported. Police served him multiple warrants for murder, attempted murder and kidnapping, according to Gen. Archie Gamboa, the country’s national police chief.
The military has been battling for years the Abu Sayyaf, which has been blacklisted by the United States and the Philippines as a terrorist organization over a series of bombings, ransom kidnappings and beheadings. Many of its estimated 300 remaining gunmen, mostly poor villagers, have aligned themselves with the Islamic State group.
Security officials blame Susukan and his followers for taking part in cross-border kidnappings of tourists and others from the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island. They included a Malaysian who was beheaded by the militants in 2015 in their jungle base in southern Sulu province on the day when Malaysia’s then-Prime Minister Najib Razak arrived in Manila to attend a regional summit.
LOOK: Suspected Abu Sayyaf leader Abduljihad "Idang" Susukan undergoes booking procedure at the Davao City Police Office following his arrest on Thursday night, August 13. (Photos courtesy of DCPO / PIO) | via Keith Bacongco pic.twitter.com/dBLq6spu5J
— Manila Bulletin News (@manilabulletin) August 14, 2020
Susukan was also allegedly involved in the kidnappings of two Canadians who were beheaded in 2016 after Abu Sayyaf didn’t receive the requested ransom, according to the AP. The militant who executed the men is still on the loose.
Susukan’s rifle grenade exploded accidentally in the midst of a battle last week, severing his left arm, according to the AP. He then gave himself over to Nur Misuari, a Muslim rebel chief who was appointed special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“His giving himself up to Mr. Misuari is not the surrender contemplated under the law and does not make him immune from arrest,” military spokesman Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said in a statement.