Alleged ASG sub-leader killed in Zamboanga City

An alleged sub-leader of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was killed during a police operation in Zamboanga City on Tuesday.

Citing reports from PNP-Intelligence Group (IG) acting director Col. Warren De Leon, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Gen. Debold Sinas, said police operatives served a warrant of arrest to Arrasid Adjing Halissam alias “Guru Ara” for illegal possession of firearms and explosives around 3 a.m. Tuesday.

The suspect attempted to evade arrest and fired upon the arresting officers who fired back.

“The full might of the law will not rest until the community is safe from atrocities and terroristic acts of the ASG,” Sinas said in a statement.

The operation was initiated in relation to the alleged retaliation plan of the Sulu-based ASG under sub-leader Mundi Sawadjaan to spread atrocities in the Zamboanga Peninsula and Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi areas.

De Leon said Guru, a member of Dawlah Islamiyah, was listed in the 2018 Periodic Status Report (PSR) on Local Terrorist Groups and was previously identified under the Ajijul Group or the Zamboanga cell of ASG.

The Periodic Status Report revealed that suspect is the trusted man of slain international terrorist, ISIS-ASG Leader Isnilon Hapilon and facilitator of the late Malaysian international terrorist Zulkipli Kipli Bin Hir alias “Marwan”.

“In 2014, the late Isnilon Hapilon together with Guru Ara pledged their allegiance to the ISIS wherein Hapilon was later on pronounced as the “Emir” (leader) of Islamic State (IS) in the Philippines. However, after the death of Hapilon in 2017 in Marawi City, the slain suspect moved to Sulu and merged with the group of Hapilon’s successor, the late DI-ASG Leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan,” De Leon said.

Guru Ara was also involved in various atrocities that include the kidnapping and beheading of Doroteo Gonzales in 2009; kidnapping of Kevin Lunsmann, Gerfa Yeatts Lunsmann and Romnick Jakaria in July 2011; kidnapping of Warren Richard Rodwell in December 2011; kidnapping of two Chinese nationals Yuan Lin Kai and Jian Luo in Poblacion, Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay on June 4, 2012; and kidnapping of Sabrina Ikbala-Voon on February 19, 2014 in Barangay Mercedes, Zamboanga City.

The slain suspect was also involved in the Bus Terminal Bombing in Guiwan, Zamboanga City on Jan. 23, 2015 that resulted in the death of two persons and wounding of 52 others as well as the kidnapping of Nwi Seong Hong, a Korean national on January 2015 in R.T. Lim, Zamboanga Sibugay.

While Guru Ara was in Sulu in 2017, he was involved in different atrocities perpetrated by ASG particularly with the group of Sawadjaan.

He was involved in facilitating the Indonesian suicide bombers in Sulu together with other Foreign Terrorist Fighters that led to the Jolo Cathedral suicide bombing on Jan. 27, 2019 which killed more or less 20 people and wounding of 105 individuals including members of the security forces and innocent civilians; suicide bombing attacks in a military detachment on June 28, 2019 in Indanan, Sulu that killed three soldiers and wounding of three civilians; suicide bombing attack in military detachment on September 2019 in Indanan, Sulu that caused damage of the detachment’s perimeter fence; twin bombing in town plaza near Jolo Cathedral, Jolo, Sulu on Aug. 24, 2020 that killed more or less 14 people and wounding of 75 others; and other atrocities in Sulu that caused the death of numerous members of security forces and civilians.

In 2017, Guru Ara was among the ASG leaders who initiated and planned the terror attack in Bohol.

However, the ASG members who were tasked to execute the plan led by the late Abu sub-leader Muammar Askali alias “Abu Rami” were killed in Inabanga, Bohol after they were intercepted by the security forces that also resulted in the death of some security forces and civilians.

In the early years of Guru Ara with the ASG, he was involved in the kidnapping of six Jehovah’s Witness members and their Muslim guides in Sulu on Aug. 20, 2002 wherein two of the kidnapped victims were beheaded while other victims were rescued by the security forces in Sulu.

Recently, the slain suspect was monitored in Zamboanga City facilitating the recruitment of new members of Dawlah Islamiya and believed to be involved in financing terrorism who acted as financial conduits of ASG.

Recovered during the conduct of search were one .45-caliber pistol, chamber loaded with inserted magazine, one hand grenade, and improvised explosive device. PNA.GOV.PH