Top militant linked to beheadings surrenders in Philippines

Article content continued

Susukan also helped finance the kidnappings in the south of two Canadian men, who were separately beheaded in Sulu in 2016 after the militants failed to get a huge ransom. Another Abu Sayyaf militant, Ben Yadah, murdered the two Canadians and remains at large, a military officer said.

Susukan surrendered to a Muslim rebel chief after the accidental explosion of his M203 rifle grenade in a gunbattle with troops in Sulu severed his left arm. Military officials had believed he was killed but later learned he was in the custody of Nur Misuari, who leads an armed group which signed a 1996 peace deal with the government.

Misuari flew from Jolo to Davao city on a private plane with a few companions that included Susukan on Sunday, sparking speculation he may be planning to present the terror suspect to President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte has been staying in his hometown in Davao city, where Misuari also has a home. Although the president has appointed Misuari as a special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Muslim rebel chief has not been clearly authorized to hold talks with suspected terrorists.

“His giving himself up to Mr. Misuari is not the surrender contemplated under the law and does not make him immune from arrest,” military spokesman Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said of Susukan in a statement.

Under a murky arrangement, Misuari and his rebel force have been allowed to keep their weapons in Sulu and outlying provinces under the 1996 Muslim autonomy deal in the south, homeland of minority Muslims in the largely Roman Catholic nation.