In a fresh blow to the Abu Sayyaf terror group, the most senior leader in its Sulu stronghold wants to hand himself in, as government forces pummel his island stronghold.
Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, told The Philippine Star that Radulan Sahiron wants to turn himself in because “he is already old”.
The surrender would be the third major reverse for the Islamic State-affiliated group this week, after a kidnapping raid on Bohol was foiled with five terrorists killed, and the surrender of 11 militants in Tawi-Tawi.
Sahiron, also known as Kumander Putol (one-armed bandit) after losing a limb during a clash with government forces in the 1970s, is wanted by the US Department of Justice with a bounty of $1 million on his head.
Lt. Gen. Galvez said Sahiron’s offer of surrender was passed on by local Muslim leaders following the recently intensified military campaign against the group.
However, the terrorist leader has reportedly set conditions for his surrender, which includes remaining under custody of the Philippine authorities.
Lt. Gen. Galvez said: “Sahiron wants to surrender provided he will not be turned over to the US or other countries.”
The American bounty on Sahiron stems from his part in the 1999 kidnapping of American Muslim convert Jeffrey Schilling in Sulu.
The number of Abu Sayyaf fighters to surrender this year has now reached 50. Despite this, it is believed the group continues to hold up to 30 hostages.