Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:57:00 08/31/2008


MANILA, Philippines—Police have arrested one of the alleged masterminds of a ferry bombing that killed 116 people four years ago, according to Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

Ruben Pestano Lavilla Jr. was deported to Manila on Saturday after being arrested last month in Bahrain, said Ermita, who is also chair of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC).

Lavilla was arrested shortly after he was hired for a job at the Philippine Embassy in Bahrain, Justice Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor said.

Blancaflor said Lavilla was “the brains” of the Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM), identifying it as a group of Islamic converts allied with two al-Qaida-linked groups—the regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf.

Lavilla has a P1-million bounty for his capture.

Intelligence officials said Lavilla is a native of Iloilo, studied at the University of the Philippines in the Visayas and also studied Shariah law in Madena, Saudi Arabia. He assumed the name “Sheik Omar” when he converted to Islam.

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