Authorities arrested an alleged Abu Sayyaf leader in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat, on Tuesday, a few days after another member of the bandit group was prevented from carrying out what is believed to be a bomb plot in Zamboanga City, police said Wednesday.

Sali Basal Taib was arrested near the Brgy. Wal Primary School shortly before noon Tuesday by intelligence operatives, PNP chief Dir. Gen. Nicanor Bartolome said in a statement.

Taib was arrested by members of the Task Force Sanglahi on a warrant issued by the Regional Trial Court Branch in Isabela City, Basilan, for kidnapping for ransom and serious illegal detention, Bartolome said.

Taib, who uses the aliases Gonggong Sali and Abu Husni, is a “principal respondent” in the case, which stemmed from the abduction of 10 workers of the Golden Harvest Plantation in Lantawan, Basilan, in June 2001.

The Department of Interior and Local Government had offered P3.3 million for Taib’s capture, Bartolome said, adding that a confidential informant provided the information that led to the suspect’s arrest.

Zambo plot foiled

Taib’s capture came four days after authorities arrested Abu Sayyaf member Rakib Tanihol Jairi in Zone 4, Zamboanga City, on Oct. 12.

Jairi was arrested along with PO3 Asbi Sahibol, a policeman assigned at the Haji Mutamad Police Station in Basilan, while they were having breakfast at a coffee shop, Zamboanga City Police director Senior Supt. James Mejia said.

Jairi’s arrest was carried out by members of the 9th Regional Intelligence Division on a warrant issued by Isabela City RTC Branch 1 Judge Leo Jay Principe for kidnapping and serious illegal detention.

Jairi, who uses the alias Abu Sulaiman, was also involved in the abduction of the Golden Harvest Plantation workers, Mejia said.

Sahibol, meanwhile, was also arrested after operatives found “components” of an improvised explosive device (IED) inside his belt bag.

“They (Jairi and Sahibol) could be planning a bombing, marami kasing bomb threat noong panahong iyon,” Mejia said, adding that the arrest coincided with the city’s “Fiesta Pilar.”

Jairi has been turned over to the court in Basilan while Sahibol, who signed a 15-day waiver that avails him of preliminary investigation, remains detained at the Zamboanga City Police Office. (John Roson)

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