U.S. offers $50,000 bounty for Philippine bomber
(www.today.reuters.com) - Washington is offering a $50,000 reward for the capture of a Muslim rebel blamed for bomb attacks in the southern Philippines just ahead of a summit of Asian nations this month, the U.S. embassy said on Tuesday.
Abdul Basit Usman, a former member of the Muslim separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who is believed to have ties with radical militant groups Jemaah Islamiah and Abu Sayyaf, was said to be behind bomb attacks on Mindanao since October 2006.
"It is time to bring this despicable terrorist to justice," the U.S. embassy said in a statement, encouraging informers to call Manila's anti-terrorist task force and the embassy.
Basit Usman was a relative of Salamat Hashim, the late founder and leader of the MILF, the largest of four Muslim secessionist groups in the troubled south of the mainly Roman Catholic nation in Southeast Asia, reports Trend.
Hashim is now dead. The MILF is engaged in a peace process with the government, but many members have broken away and continue to fight security forces.
Philippine security officials said Basit Usman trained under Indonesian militants on assembling crude bombs made from unexploded shells of 60mm and 81mm mortars, detonating them with mobile phones or with timing devices.
In October 2006, eight people were killed and 30 were injured in three bomb attacks blamed on Basit Usman in the southern cities of Makilala, Tacurong and Cotabato.
Another eight died and 27 wounded in three attacks in General Santos, Kidapawan and Cotabato on January 10, days before 16 leaders from Asia, including China, Japan, South Korea and India, met on a resort island in the central Philippines. Basit Usman is said to have been behind these attacks as well.