Abu Sayyaf terrorists linked to Australian Warren Rodwell who was held hostage in the Philippines
FILIPINO police are preparing to swoop on key Abu Sayyaf terrorists after they were identified as being involved in the kidnapping of Warren Rodwell.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo told News Limited that they were already chasing solid leads on the case.
“We will find them. We will arrest,” Chief Supt Cerbo said.
The net is believed to be closing in on Puruji Indama the man who leads the group that negotiated the $94,000 ransom paid by Mr Rodwell’s family for his release.
“Mr Rodwell made mention of involvement of some Abu Sayaff personalities including him (Puruji Indama),” he said.
“At this point we are collecting evidence and establishing a basis to support our case to bring criminal charges against these people involved.”
Chief Supt Cerbo said Mr Rodwell would undergo further debriefing by Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) detectives next week as his health improved.
Mr Rodwell was ambushed by terrorists posing as policemen in late 2011 from his seaside house on the Zamboanga peninsula.
After 15-months at gunpoint and under constant threat of beheading, Mr Rodwell a former soldier was released last weekend.
After local criticism surrounding ransom payment to terrorists, PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima yesterday flagged a new law that could potentially prohibit financial transactions to free hostages.
Mr Purisima said people involved in Mr Rodwell’s ransom payment, including Basilan Vice Governor Al-Rasheed Sakkalahul, could not be held liable.
“The policy of the government is no ransom policy. But there’s no law yet that provides if you help a kidnap victim pay ransom, you will be liable, maybe there is a need for some revision in the law,” Mr Purisima said.
Mr Sakalahul yesterday denied accusations that he had skimmed some of Mr Rodwell’s ransom money.
“My conscience is clear and I can’t stomach to feed my family out from bad earnings. I think is about time for the families of the kidnap victims which I also helped previously come out in the open and speak for the truth,” he told reporters.
He said the negotiations were initiated by Mr Rodwell’s wife Miraflor Gutang and he only helped to ensure she was not duped by the kidnappers.
“I have not even touched the money,” he said.
In a separate operation earlier in the week, PNP and military officers yesterday swooped on an Abu Sayyaf member known as “Muner” in Zamboanga City.
Local police said “Muner” was a member of the Abu Sayyaf group responsible for conducting bombings and assassination missions.
A gaunt and emaciated Mr Rodwell is recovering at an undisclosed location in Manila with support of embassy officials and his siblings Denise and Wayne.
The 54-year-old is expected to fly back to Australia within weeks.