The mission of the Fallen 44 has been accomplished.
Reports of Filipino terror suspect Abdul Basit Usman being killed in a firefight in Guindulungan, Maguindanao around noon yesterday, May 3, were confirmed by government officials today—although we are still not so sure who really got the slippery bomb-maker. Nevertheless, this is a considerable development for the country's fight against terrorism, and an encouraging sign for the families of the Fallen 44.
Video via GMA News and Public Affairs
Earlier, this photo, allegedly of a dead Usman, also surfaced:
Photo via ABS-CBNnews.com
Malacañang and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) both stated that Usman was killed during an encounter with the military, while Maguindanao provincial police chief S/Supt. Nickson Muksan claimed that members of the MILF 118th Base Command in Barangay Muti, Guindulungan town were the ones who took down the suspected terrorist. The AFP added that there were also reports of infighting and doubt among Usman's followers, which has also been associated, in one way or another, to his death.
But instead of fussing over who should get the credit, why don't we just talk about who the hell Abdul Basit Usman is, and how big of a deal was his passing?
WHO THE HELL IS BASIT USMAN?
Usman, born Ahmad Akmad Batabol Usman, was originally an overseas Filipino worker in Pakistan before he was reported to be engaging in acts of extremism.
He was first associated with the FitMart Mall bombing in General Santos City on April 21, 2002. Fifteen people were killed and 55 were wounded by a bomb believed to be assembled by Usman. Arrested for his involvement in the bombing, he went on to exhibit good behavior while in police custody and was made preso caballero or minimum security detainee. This meant he was not locked up 24/7 in his detention cell at the Sarangani Provincial Police Office. Usman would then manage to escape prison on October 26, 2002.
HIS DARK TIES
Following his escape, Usman was said to have joined forces with the former commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the late Tahir Alonto, who at that time was accused of being the leader of the Pentagon kidnap-for-ransom group. Both were also residents of Bentung Sulit in Polomolok, South Cotabato.
Screen capture via ABS-CBN News
The new alliance was said to be responsible for the death of Usman's custodial officer, Police Senior Inspector Aucelito Cabang, and three other police officers. Cabang and his men were allegedly duped into believing that the bomb maker was surrendering himself to the authorities; during the arrest, they were executed upon entering Alonto's territory.
What came next was a series of bombings linked to Usman; first at the Tacurong City public market in October 10, 2006 (four wounded), and then attacks in Cotabato City on January 5 and 7 the following year, which killed two people and injured three.
HIS PAST "DEATHS"
Usman was reported to have been killed in the past—in a US drone strike near the Afghan border in Pakistan on January 14, 2010, during an attack on Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, and in a series of military assaults in Maguindanao—before his recent death (here's to hoping that this one's the real deal).
Photo via Balita.com
Late July of last year, President Noynoy Aquino warned Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of threats of terrorism in the region, after Usman was reportedly spotted at the hideout of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). The bomb expert was affiliated with the said Moro rebel group—as commander of its splinter group, the Bangsamoro Justice Movement—along with connections to Indonesia-based terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, and the notorious Abu Sayyaf.
IN RELATION TO THE FALLEN 44
Usman's name would again come into prominence as one of the three high-value targets of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force's (PNP SAF) Oplan Exodus, along with Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir (alias Marwan) and the less-heralded Malaysian bomb maker Amin Baco (alias Jihad). Marwan was killed in the clash, along with 17 members of the MILF, several civilians, and 44 members of the PNP SAF force.
And now, we're brought back to the issue of who should be acknowledged of Usman's killing because apparently, he has a $1 million—dollar, not peso, mind you—bounty on his head. Somebody's about to get richer...
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