Monday Sep, 23 2019 09:15:06 PM

Text message leads to arrest of IS-linked man in a hospital

Mindanao Armed Conflict • 09:30 AM Thu Sep 5, 2019
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TEXT AND PHOTOS BY FERDINANDH B. CABRERA
Samad Masgal, BIFF leader, after his arrest while confined at the hospital. His left arm was amputated after a clash with another armed group in Midsayap.. (Photos by Ferdinandh Cabrera)

COTABATO CITY  – A text message sent by still unidentified man led to the arrest of Central Mindanao’s most wanted man inside a hospital here Wednesday.

After the message was validated and counter-checked, police and anti-narcotic agents arrested Samad Masgal, alias Commander Madrox of the IS linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) inside the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center.

The message reportedly came from Barangay Nabalawag, Midsayap, North Cotabato where Masgal had been operating and feared by residents due to his huge followers armed with highpowered guns.

Director Juvenal Azurin of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PDEA-BARMM), said joint police military and PDEA agents have been hunting Samad Masgal, a sub-leader of BIFF operating in the borders of North Cotabato and Maguindanao the past three years.

“The long arm of the law finally caught up with him,” Azurin told reporters.

Masgal, who was facing charges for multiple murder, multiple frustrated murder, illegal possession of firearms and explosives and illegal drug peddling, was serious injured in a clash with another armed men in Midsayap, North Cotabato.  He sustained injuries in left arm that led to its amputation.

“It’s over for him,” Azurin said, adding that the elusive leader was known as suppliers of illegal drugs in Maguindanao and North Cotabato.

Military intelligence officials said Masgal provided funds for ISIS out of his illegal drug trading business.   

PDEA, backed by soldiers and police tried but failed to arrest Masgal during law enforcement operation in Nabalawag, Midsayap in August 2014. 

Masgal and his men killed two soldiers and a police officer during that operation that also forced the Armed Forces to launch air and ground assaults.

But the Masgal escaped and reportedly hid in a community Bongo Island, Parang, Maguindanao.

Azurin said PDEA and other security forces received a tip from residents of Barangay Nabalawag that Masgal was confined at a hospital in Cotabato City. 

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