A Philippine policeman, a cousin of one of the country’s top Islamic militants, has been arrested over the kidnapping of an Australian, police said Monday, May 18.
Jun Malban went on the run after he was charged with kidnapping Warren Rodwell from his home in a southern Philippine coastal town in December 2011.
He was detained in Malaysia early in May and deported back to the Philippines on Friday, May 15, police anti-kidnapping unit head Senior Superintendent Roberto Fajardo said.
The abductors, members of Abu Sayyaf with a long history of kidnappings for ransom, posed as policemen when they seized Rodwell and demanded $2 million for his release.
Rodwell was released 15 months later in return for a ransom that a local politician said was worth about $100,000.
Fajardo said Malban was believed to have been working with Rodwell’s kidnappers to broker the ransom.
“Rodwell identified Malban as the negotiator of the Abu Sayyaf during his captivity,” he said.
Malban, who had worked for a southern Philippine police unit that provides bodyguards to civilians under threat, is a cousin of Abu Sayyaf leader Khair Mundos, he said.
Mundos, who had a $500,000 US government reward on his head, was arrested in a rundown Muslim quarter near Manila airport in June 2014. The United States government described him as a “key leader and financier” of the Abu Sayyaf.
Founded in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network, Abu Sayyaf has gained notoriety for kidnappings that target locals and foreigners in the southern Philippines.
In March, the grandson of Andal Ampatuan, a powerful southern Philippine politician on trial for the murder of 58 people, graduated from the country’s premiere police academy.
Many of the accused politician’s relatives hold local political posts, while one of his sons and some other relatives are also on trial for their alleged involvement in the massacre.