International Business Times reports that Abdul Basit Usman, said to be “one of the most wanted Islamist terrorists in the Philippines,” has been killed by one of his bodyguards for a million-dollar bounty from the U.S. State Department.
Early reports held that notorious al-Qaeda-linked bomber Usman was killed during a raid by a rival group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in a bid to “demonstrate its sincerity with the peace process.”
However, the chief of staff for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., said on Monday that a $1 million reward motivated one of Usman’s bodyguards to kill him. This decision was apparently a matter of some dispute with Usman’s other six bodyguards, resulting in a number of additional fatalities.
The killing reportedly took place while Usman was en route to a rebel camp in the town of Guindulungan. According to General Catapang, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels discovered the bodies and claimed responsibility for the kill.
This was indeed taken as a constructive gesture by some in the Philippines’s government, although there are still outstanding charges against officers of the MILF, and government officials expressed continued skepticism of the rebel group. As one senator put it to the Philippine Star, it was “hard for him to give credit to the MILF for the neutralization of Usman because of allegations that it had provided protection to the terrorist.”