A notorious leader of the Abu Sayyaf militant group in Sulu, linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, has expressed his intention to surrender due to old age. Radulan Sahiron is believed to be in his mid-70s.
Lieutenant-General Carlito Galvez Jr, commander of the Philippine military's Western Mindanao Command, said Sahiron has tapped elders in Sulu to relay his intention. "The continuing operation against the Abu Sayyaf, up and down from Talipao, Patikul, Mainbubg and other parts of Sulu, this is taking a toll on part of the Abu Sayyaf, particularly on Sahiron," he told Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Galvez cited the recent surrender of 11 Abu Sayyaf bandits from Tawi-Tawi and said that it wasn't only the lower-rank members who wanted to surrender. "They now feel the heat of the operation, and they also feel the sincerity of the President (Rodrigo Duterte) in accepting their surrender... Sahiron is contemplating surrender because he is already old," he added.
However, the general added that the one-armed bandit leader's surrender was conditional on the government not turning him over to the United States or other countries: "He wants the Philippine government to handle his case."
According to reports, Sahiron is wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his alleged involvement in the kidnapping of an American in Sulu and he was held captive for 23 days in 1993.
The US State Department has offered a reward of up to US$1 million (S$1.4 million) for any information leading to Sahiron's arrest.
Former kidnap victim Octavio Dinampo, a professor at Mindanao State University in Sulu, said Sahiron is also suffering from diabetes.
Sahiron has been associated with the Abu Sayyaf group from a long time and has been a part of numerous abductions. Abu Sayyaf is an insurgent group known for kidnapping foreigners for ransom and has defied more than a decade of US-backed military offensives against it. In recent years, the group has conducted a lucrative kidnapping spree.