BIFF ranking leader, 4 men arrested in General Santos City

March 17, 2015 1:56 am 

By Noel Y. Punzalan and Edwin O. Fernandez

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao, March 16 (PNA) -– Joint police and military operatives arrested Sunday night one of the leaders of outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and four of his men in General Santos City.

This was confirmed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines public affairs office in a message to the PNA.

Arrested in a joint military and police operation was Ustadz Mohammad Ali Tambako, allegedly the leader of the Justice for Islam Movement (JIM), a splinter group of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

It was also confirmed to the PNA that Tambako is a trusted lieutenant of BIFF founding chair Uztadz Ameril Umbra Kato.

"Presentation of Mohammad Ali Tambako will take place 11:30 a.m. (today) at Villamor Air Base, Pasay City," the AFP advisory said

“He was a big fish and influential leader of BIFF who formed his own separate group,” an officer said.

Tambako and his men, identified in the report as Mesharie Gayak, Datukan Sabiwang, Ali Ludisma, and Abusama Guiamel were on board separate tricycles when collared by joint police and military agents in Barangay Calumpang, General Santos City.

They were heading to a seaport when arrested at 9 p.m. on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by Regional Trial Court Judge George Jabido.

The arresting team seized three hand grenades and three handguns. They did not resist arrest.

Tambako assumed the leadership of BIFF after Kato became seriously ill. He was tagged in various crimes in North Cotabato villages last year and involved in the series of attacks against the military in Maguindanao.

His named emerged as among the armed men in a clash with Police special unit in Mamasapano on January 25 when the police commandos killed suspected Malaysian bomber Zulkifli bin Hir alias “Marwan.”

Mohaqher Iqbal, peace panel chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has said the BIFF has split into three groups. One headed by Kato, the other headed by Kagi Karialan and the third group formed by Tambako was named United Justice Movement with about a hundred armed followers.

Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson, said Tambako, a former member of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), MILF and BIFF, formed a new group in November 2013 called Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM).

Kakilala said Tambako allegedly obtained a master's degree in Islamic studies from Cairo university, one Egypt's learning institutions.

While in Egypt, he met individuals who later provided funds for the BIFF.

Tambako is believed to be the one coddling “Marwan” and Filipino bomb making expert Basit Usman. (PNA)

FFC/NYP/EOF WITH PFN

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