BY VICTOR REYES
ABU Solaiman, No. 2 man of the Abu Sayyaf who was killed early this month, was caught by security forces literally with his pants down.
First Lt. Almerante Mirajes and S/Sgt. Raul Suacillo yesterday related their clash with the group of Solaiman, who had a $5 million bounty on his head and had planned high-profile bombings and kidnappings.
Mijares said the clash in Mt. Dajo, Talipao town in Sulu on Jan. 16 started at 9:20 a.m.
Mijares said as they were preparing to assault the Abu Sayyaf lair, a man approached their position.
"He responded to a personal necessity. He relieved himself," he said.
Mijares said the man, with two aides about 15 meters away, got as close as four to six meters to his men’s position.
He said the man checked out the area but did not detect their presence because it was foggy and the area was thickly forested. He then went on to relieve himself.
"When he was already through, he was surprised that an M14 was already pointed at him," Mijares said.
Suacillo, the soldier who poked the rifle on Solaiman, said he asked the man to surrender.
"Instead of surrendering, he ran and shouted ‘Allahu Akbar,’" said Suacillo.
Suacillo said he then opened fire.
"Sergeant Suacillo tried to ask him not make a noise, to apprehend him so our location would not be compromised but he resisted and shouted ‘Allahu Akbar.’ So there was no choice. He (Suacillo) shot him," said Mijares.
HIT IN THE BACK
The man was hit in the back.
Mijares said Solaiman’s shouting of "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) was meant to warn his men.
Mijares said he then ordered the rest of his men to unleash heavy fire at the camp. Mijares said Solaiman’s two aides escaped with their companions after three hours of fighting.
He said they were repeatedly shouting "Allahu Akbar."
"The last shout was followed by a burst of fire. They withdrew, there was no longer resistance," said Mijares.
Mijares said they took pictures of Solaiman with digital camera before burying him.
He said they turned over the cameras to "competent authorities" who identified the fatality as Solaiman.
They retrieved Solaiman’s body the following morning.
Solaiman reportedly planned a number of high-profile atrocities, including the kidnapping of three American and 17 Filipino tourists from the posh Dos Palmas resort in May 2001, and the February 2004 bombing of a passenger ship of Manila Bay, killing 200 people.
Brig. Gen. Arturo Ortiz, Special Forces Regiment commander, said Mijares’ group braved a "longer and harder route" in the mountains to pierce the perimeter security of the main Abu Sayyaf group.
Solaiman, along with Indonesian terrorist Dulmatin, were allegedly protected by a group led by Albader Parad.
Ortiz said they received information that Dulmatin was wounded in the operation but this was still being verified.
Mijares said Dulmatin occupied a VIP bunker which had two beddings, a comfort room, and a sofa. He said there were flowers on the pathway leading to the VIP bunker, indicating that the terrorists had been staying in the area for two to three months.
Ortiz said while they were able to account for only one body, "we suspect that many of them perished."
About a thousand of the total 7,500 troops involved in the Sulu operations are from the Special Forces Regiment.
"We really intend to finish this group. The objective of Oplan Ultimatum is to neutralize up to the last Abu Sayyaf there in Sulu… because we really recognize the threat of this group…we are hoping that we could finish this as soon as possible," Ortiz said.
A number of Abu Sayyaf leaders and members have been neutralized by government forces during the Sulu offensive. They included Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khadaffy Janjalani who was killed by Marines in a Sept. 4 clash in Patikul town.