Abu Sayyaf operative thought killed in US drone strike spotted in Philippines
Abu Sayyaf Group operative and master bombmaker Abdul Basit Usman. Photo from the Rewards for Justice website.
According to reports, Abdul Basit Usman, an Abu Sayyaf Group operative and master bombmaker, has been spotted in the Philippines. The reports are interesting because Usman was rumored to have been killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan, Pakistan on Jan. 14, 2010.
Ten Taliban and "foreign fighters" were said to have been killed in the strike that targeted and missed former Movement of the Taliban Pakistan emir Hakeemullah Mehsud. [See LWJ report, Wanted Abu Sayyaf operative reported killed in North Waziristan.] US intelligence officials contacted by LWJ back in 2010 and several times afterwards would not confirm the reports of Usman's death.
Usman "recently eluded a military raid of a Muslim guerrilla camp in the Philippines," AFP reported. He "was seen in the camp of another armed Muslim group on the island of Mindanao, southern Philippines," a military official told AFP.
Usman is wanted by the United States for his involvement in multiple bombings in the Philippines and also has ties to Jemaah Islamiyah, an al Qaeda-linked group in Southeast Asia.
"Because of his association with these US Government-designated international terrorist organizations, US authorities consider Basit to be a threat to US and Filipino citizens and interests," states the Rewards for Justice website. "He is believed to have orchestrated several bombings that have killed, injured, and maimed many innocent civilians."
The US has put a $1 million reward out for information leading to his capture and prosecution. His Rewards for Justice page indicates that he is thought to be based in Mindanao.