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11/26/2021 Philippines (International Christian Concern) – An Abu Sayyaf bomb expert believed to be linked to a January 2019 church bombing in the southern Philippines was arrested on Tuesday, November 23 in a village near Zamboanga city.

The suspect’s name is Kalmi Ammad Mustala and he is 42 years old. According to city police director Colonel Rexmel Reyes, Mustala was arrested mid-morning at a beachfront area near Recodo village. Col. Reyes said Mustala is “now behind bars as the Philippine National Police [and] Zamboanga City Police Office steps up its series of Oplan Manhunt Charlie operations across the city.” He went on to say that the arrest “was conducted against Mustala through a warrant of arrest issued by the Sulu court dated June 19, 2021, for cases of illegal possession of explosives. The explosives were used in the commission of the crimes of double frustrated murder and double attempted murder.”

Col. Reyes also said that Mustala was an active member of Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic jihadist terror organization based in the southern Sulu Islands. Mustala, he argued, is believed to be a “bomb expert involved in the twin bombing incident at Jolo Cathedral last Jan. 27, 2019.” The January 2019 bombing was perpetrated by an Indonesian suicide bomber couple who strapped bombs to their bodies and entered the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jolo, capital of the province of Sulu. The bombs killed 21 and injured 102. Though Mustala is associated with this attack, police believe the mastermind was Abu Sayyaf leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, the Philippine commander of the extremist group Islamic State.

Col. Reyes claimed that Mustala was involved in other incidents besides this one, such as kidnappings involving foreigners, in particular, Swiss national Lorenzo Vinciguerra and Dutch national Ewold Horn, both of whom were abducted in Tawi-Tawi in February 2012 while bird watching. Police also said that Mustala was associated with kidnappings involving Indonesian fishing boat crews.

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