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Another shabu dealer linked to BIFF busted

COTABATO CITY — Policemen are tightly guarding a detained cousin of a slain leader of a local terrorist group, who was arrested after selling P170,000 worth of shabu to non-uniformed policemen in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao del Sur on Monday.

The suspect, who was identified by the police and Army officials as Abu Gharib in the meantime while efforts to validate his links with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters are still underway, is now under the joint custody of the Shariff Aguak Municipal Police Station and the Maguindanao del Sur Provincial Police.

Maguindanao del Sur's police director, Col. Roel Sermese, and Bangsamoro regional police director Brig. Gen. Prexy Tanggawohn separately announced on Wednesday the arrest of the suspect in Barangay Mother Labu-labu in Shariff Aguak after selling P170,000 worth of shabu to plainclothes policemen.

His relatives and traditional Moro datus in Maguindanao del Sur, two of them elected officials in Shariff Saidona Mustapha and Ampatuan towns, told officials of the Army's 6th Infantry Division and reporters that Abu Gharib is a cousin of Abdulkarim Lumbatan Hashim, most known as the Commander Jacket of the outlawed BIFF. Hashim was killed in a shootout in early 2023 with policemen and Army intelligence agents in the bus terminal in Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat.

The mother of Abu Gharib and the father of Hashim are cousins, according to the confidential informants.

The BIFF and its ally, the Dawlah Islamiya, are both known for providing sanctuary to peddlers of shabu and marijuana in exchange for money.

Units of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region arrested in separate entrapment operations in the provinces of Maguindanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur Cotabato 23 shabu dealers who confessed that they are members of the two terrorist groups in the past 15 months. They were blamed for all deadly bombings in Central Mindanao since 2014.