The Criminial Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police confirmed the arrest of Melquides Pabico Abrera II, the leader of Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM).
Abrera, also known as “Lolo”, “Mel”, and Mikhail Abdul Asis Abrera, was arrested in his hideout at Brgy. Sta. Barbara, Zamboanga City around 6:30 am on Friday. He was not able to resist arrest since he was surrounded by authorities. Among those recovered from Abrera are two cellphones, a caliber .45 pistol with defaced serial number, two hand grenades hidden in a belt bag, and some documents.
RSM is an organization founded by Ahmed Santos in 1991 and is made up of Filipino Christians, who converted into Islam. It reportedly gets its fund from the Jemaah Islamiya and its members get training from the Abu Sayyaf.
Supt. Roger Sebastian of the CIDG said that RSM was behind the 2004 Superferry bombing which resulted to 116 deaths. Moreover, the group is also believed to be behind the 2005 Valentine’s Day explosions that killed four people and injured 60 others, and the 2003 bomb attack at the Awang Airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.
There were reports in 2014 by security officials that RSM was planning to sow terror in Metro Manila through bombings. The plan was allegedly unveiled when documents were recovered from a certain Ricardo Ayeras and two companions who were believed to be fresh RSM recruits. The three were arrested in Quezon City in October, 2014.
Following this incident, the US Embassy in Manila issued an advisory “to remind all US citizens to remain vigilant and maintain an appropriate level of personal security in all circumstances by reviewing your personal security plans; remaining aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitoring local news sources for updates.”
Several RSM leaders had already been arrested in the past Among several RSM leaders who have been arrested in 2005 are: Santos, whose real name is Hilarion del Rosario, and RSM co-founder Ruben Omar Pestano Lavilla Jr. alias Sheik Omar. However, many of its pioneering members remain at large. They included Santos’ brother, Tyrone who is also known as “Dawud.”