US riots take severe toll on Arab-American small businesses

US riots take severe toll on Arab-American small businesses
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A man is arrested in Hollywood, California on June 1, as the mostly peaceful protests over George Floyd’s death were accompanied by looting. (AFP)
US riots take severe toll on Arab-American small businesses
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Inside the Salamy’s liquor store in Chicago after the looting. (Supplied)
US riots take severe toll on Arab-American small businesses
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The Salamy store. (Supplied)
US riots take severe toll on Arab-American small businesses
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The looters outside the Salamy store. (Supplied)
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Updated 08 June 2020

US riots take severe toll on Arab-American small businesses

US riots take severe toll on Arab-American small businesses
  • Stores owned by immigrants of Arab and Muslim origin targeted in major US cities
  • Looting and destruction inflict economic damage and mental anguish on families

CHICAGO: Stores owned by immigrants of Arab and Muslim origin are among the many businesses that were pillaged and destroyed during the protests triggered by the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, while in police custody.

US media has focused almost exclusively on the continued anger over the circumstances of Floyd’s death on May 25, while choosing to ignore an inconvenient truth: the economic setback and mental anguish suffered by hard-working Arab American and Muslim immigrant communities.

Protesters burned vehicles, smashed windows, defaced buildings and clashed with police as civil unrest erupted in cities across the country. Atlanta, Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Denver, Salt Lake City, Nashville and Minneapolis imposed curfews while the governors of Minnesota, Georgia, Ohio, Washington and Kentucky mobilized their states’ National Guards.

Although there are Arab chambers of commerce in many of the cities heavily affected by the rioting and looting, none of the business bodies — except one in Chicago — have been able to collect accurate information on the losses suffered by the community.

Through tears, Ekhlas Salamy described how she and her sons, Steve and John, watched helplessly from across a main street as their store in Chicago was ransacked by looters.




The late Peter John Salamy and his wife Ekhlas, who came from Ramallah and had run their Chicago store since 1988. (Supplied)

“I am so frustrated by what happened to our store. My husband bought the business in 1988 and it is located in a mixed community of African Americans and Hispanics,” said Salamy, whose family emigrated to the US from the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

“We have never had any problems before with the African American community. In fact, five of our employees are black and three others are Hispanic.

“We never treated them badly and never let them feel that they were any different from us. We have always treated them with respect.

“We attended the funerals of our longtime customers and supported their families.”

Salamy said treating others equally and fairly was something her husband, the late Peter John Salamy, always advocated.


Also Read: ‘We were all outraged,’ says Arab owner of store at center of US protest firestorm


She and her two sons took over the family’s Chicago business, Pete & Jack’s Liquor, at 4156 W Division Street when her husband died in August 2018.

“This is our livelihood. All my family has survived off this business,” Salamy told Arab News.

“The looters just destroyed all our hard work. I have tears in my eyes because we never did any harm to anyone. They stole everything and destroyed the entire store.”

Floyd was arrested for trying to cash an alleged counterfeit $20 bill at an Arab American-owned store, Cup Foods, located just south of downtown Minneapolis.

 

 

Video footage of Floyd’s death shows police officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, along with other officers kneeling on his back.

Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Along with him, three other officers have been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department plus charged with aiding and abetting murder.

Rioting and looting began immediately after news spread of Floyd’s death, despite pleas from the deceased’s family urging protesters to go out and vote rather than turn to violence.

Demanding justice for his brother, Terrence Floyd told a gathering at a memorial in Minneapolis that the lawlessness sweeping across America would “not bring (his) brother back.”

Many Americans view the destruction of public and private property as a dishonor to Floyd’s memory and a setback to the common cause of ending anti-black racism and police brutality.

Although the Arab American operators of the Minneapolis store that reported the counterfeit money denounced Floyd’s death, the owner and his three sons were allegedly forced into hiding because of death threats.




 Inside the Salamy’s liquor store in Chicago after the looting. (Supplied)

Activists associated with the Black Lives Matter movement have not publicly targeted Arab American or Muslim-owned stores. However, many such stores are located in the heart of the African American community, where much of the violence over Floyd’s death has been centered.

Arab American and Muslim immigrants began opening businesses in economically depressed African American communities in the 1950s.

This was in part because they were welcomed by the black community, but also because Arabs themselves have often been at the receiving end of discrimination in America’s racially charged mainstream society.

Poorer communities often lack retail stores owing to the higher risks associated with crime in lower-income areas. In this sense, Arab Americans have filled a void many others have been hesitant to fill.

Over the years, many Arab American store owners became victims of violent crime, but that has not discouraged them from opening stores in areas with large minority communities, areas that big-name national outlets often avoided because of the associated economic risks.

In the wake of Floyd’s death, at another location in Chicago, rioters looted a Quick Stop grocery store at 71st and Artesian Street in Marquette Park that was also founded by Arab Americans in 1987.




Steve and John Salamy watched helplessly as their store was ransacked by looters. (Supplied)

“We have always stood with our community, but this was absolutely terrible,” said Naim Matariyeh who worked at the store with his 88-year-old father Jamil and another brother.

“Ours is a family business, owned by two brothers who built this store from absolutely nothing. This is our only source of income, and it was already drastically affected by COVID-19.”

Matariyeh said the looting in Chicago — a city more than 410 miles away from Minneapolis — began on May 31.

“We are active members of the community. We pray in a mosque nearby. At the beginning of the school year, we donate backpacks, pencils and crayons to the children here,” Matariyeh said.

“Sadly, we have lost a store that we spent many years building up, and now we have no income.”

But that was not the worst of it, Matariyeh said.

“Our store was looted at first, which hurt us deeply. But my brother and I accepted it, and we were willing to come back the next day to start the cleanup,” Matariyeh said.

“Approximately an hour after we left the store, however, we learned that it was on fire. We returned to the scene, and it devastated us to see what had happened.




 The looters outside the Salamy store. (Supplied)

The Matariyeh family has set up a GoFundMe page that has raised more than $11,000 so far to help rebuild their business.

Down the street from the family, another store owned by an American of Yemeni heritage was looted and destroyed. The owner, Matariyeh said, was beaten so badly that he had to be taken to hospital.

“This is going to end up hurting the African American community and discouraging others from reopening their stores in these neighborhoods,” he said.

Hassan Nijem, president of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce based in Chicago, said his organization is actively monitoring the violence against Arab American-owned businesses.

Noting that many Arab stores have been damaged and several completely destroyed, he said: “The real tragedy is that Arab Americans are not the problem in this political and racial war. We are caught in the middle, following the law, being respectful and trying to work with everyone.

“Paradoxically, when the anger reaches a boiling point, we often become the target.”

Nijem said Arab store owners have opened stores in neighborhoods that others have refused to enter because of fear and racism.

“Arab Americans have great respect for the concerns of African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and all ethnic and racial minority groups,” Nijem said. “We contribute to the communities where we work.

“I feel sorrow for the plight of the Salamy family and the Matariyeh family.

“They symbolize the hard work Arab American immigrants have strived for only to suffer because of the anger and turmoil in other communities.”

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China slams G7 ‘manipulation’ after Xinjiang, Hong Kong criticism

China slams G7 ‘manipulation’ after Xinjiang, Hong Kong criticism
Updated 4 min 35 sec ago

China slams G7 ‘manipulation’ after Xinjiang, Hong Kong criticism

China slams G7 ‘manipulation’ after Xinjiang, Hong Kong criticism
  • ‘The Group of Seven (G-7) takes advantage of Xinjiang-related issues to engage in political manipulation and interfere in China’s internal affairs’

BEIJING: China on Monday accused the G7 of “political manipulation” after it criticized Beijing over its human rights record in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
In a communique after a three-day summit in England, G7 leaders slammed China over abuses against minorities in the Xinjiang region and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, while US President Joe Biden called for Beijing to “start acting more responsibly in terms of international norms on human rights.”
The Chinese embassy in the United Kingdom responded angrily on Monday, and accused the G7 of “interfering.”
“The Group of Seven (G-7) takes advantage of Xinjiang-related issues to engage in political manipulation and interfere in China’s internal affairs, which we firmly oppose,” an embassy spokesman said in a statement.
The statement accused the G7 of “lies, rumors and baseless accusations.”
Human rights groups say China has rounded up an estimated one million Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang into internment camps, which Beijing says is to eradicate Islamic extremism.
“We will promote our values, including by calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms” the G7 communique read.
At their first physical summit in nearly two years, leaders of the seven nations announced a number of pledges on COVID-19 vaccinations, climate change, rights and trade.
They also called for a new investigation in China into the origins of COVID-19 — prompting a response from the Chinese embassy that the work needs to be done in a “scientific, objective and fair manner,” without agreeing to a new probe.
“The current epidemic is still raging around the world, and the traceability work should be carried out by global scientists and should not be politicized,” the embassy said.
The coronavirus first emerged in central China in late 2019, and the World Health Organization sent a team of international experts in January to probe its origins.
But their long-delayed report published in March drew no firm conclusions, and the investigation has since faced criticism for lacking transparency and access.
The G7 also announced a new infrastructure fund which President Biden said would be “much more equitable” than China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative.
The Chinese embassy statement complained in response that the “accusations against China on economic and trade issues in the communique are inconsistent with the facts and are unreasonable.”


Biden to rebuild ‘sacred’ NATO bond shaken by Trump

Biden to rebuild ‘sacred’ NATO bond shaken by Trump
Updated 14 June 2021

Biden to rebuild ‘sacred’ NATO bond shaken by Trump

Biden to rebuild ‘sacred’ NATO bond shaken by Trump
  • The summit at NATO’s Brussels headquarters is set to greenlight a 2030 reform program
  • Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump undermined faith in the West’s security architecture 

BRUSSELS, Belgium: US President Joe Biden will seek to restore bonds of trust at NATO’s first post-Trump summit on Monday, as leaders push to revitalize the alliance despite differences over dangers ahead.
The allies will agree a statement stressing common ground on securing their withdrawal from Afghanistan, joint responses to cyberattacks and relations with a rising China.
Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump undermined faith in the West’s security architecture by questioning Washington’s commitment to defend European partners.
And he clashed publicly with counterparts the last time leaders met in 2019, before abruptly heading home early.
In contrast, Biden has firmly reasserted American backing for the 72-year-old military alliance — and his administration has been making a show of consulting more with partners.
But there remain divisions among the allies on some key issues — including how to deal with China’s rise and how to increase common funding.
Partners are concerned about the rush to leave Afghanistan and some question the strategy of an alliance that French President Emmanuel Macron warns is undergoing “brain death.”
“We do not view NATO as a sort of a protection racket,” Biden said Sunday after a conciliatory G7 gathering in Britain.
“We believe that NATO is vital to our ability to maintain American security.”
He stressed the United States had a “sacred obligation” to the alliance and the principle of collective defense, promising he would “make the case: ‘We are back’, as well.”
The summit at NATO’s cavernous Brussels headquarters is set to greenlight a 2030 reform program.
The leaders will agree to rewrite the core “strategic concept” to face a world where cyberattacks, climate change, and new technologies pose new threats.
Looming large in the background is the scramble to complete NATO’s hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan after Biden surprised partners by ordering US troops home by September 11.

“I’m very confident that this summit will demonstrate the strong commitment by all NATO allies to our transatlantic bond,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told AFP.
“We have a unique opportunity to strengthen our alliance.”
European diplomats insist that confronting an emboldened Russia remains the “number one” priority for an alliance set up to counter the Soviet threat in the wake of World War II.
Moscow’s 2014 seizure of Crimea gave renewed purpose to NATO and fellow leaders will be keen to sound Biden out ahead of his Wednesday meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On China, Biden is picking up from where Trump left off by getting NATO to start paying attention to Beijing and is pushing for the alliance to take a tougher line.
But National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, briefing reporters from Air Force One, played down how big a part this would play in the statement. “The language is not going to be inflammatory,” he said.
Many allies are wary of shifting too much attention away from NATO’s main Euro-Atlantic sphere.
“This is not about moving NATO into Asia, but it’s about taking into account the fact that China is coming closer to us,” Stoltenberg told AFP.
He pointed to attempts by Beijing to control critical infrastructure in Europe, its moves in cyberspace and heavy spending on modern weapons systems.
“NATO has to be ready to respond to any threats from any direction,” he said.

As NATO looks to the future, it is putting one of its most significant chapters behind it by ending two-decades of military involvement in Afghanistan.
Allies are patching together plans to try to avert a collapse of Afghan forces when they leave and figuring out how to provide enough security for Western embassies to keep working.
Biden will discuss a Turkish offer to keep troops at Kabul airport, in a meeting with leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Ankara has offered to secure the essential transport hub, but insists it would need American support.
Sullivan said the leaders would discuss how “our embassies can stay in a safe and secure way in Afghanistan, to be able to do all the things they definitely want to do, providing for the Afghan government and security forces, the people.”
But the US president is also set to push Erdogan on Turkey’s purchase of Russian missile defenses and human rights.
As part of a reform agenda over the next decade, Stoltenberg is pressing for allies to improve political cooperation.
But there have been disagreements over proposals for increased common funding for NATO, with France especially arguing it would distract from efforts by individual nations.
On that front Biden is expected to tone down Trump’s rhetoric, bashing allies for not spending enough.
But he will still push European allies and Canada to further boost defense budgets to reach a target of two percent of GDP.
Stoltenberg said allies are expected to sign off on a new cyber defense policy and to create a fund to help start-ups developing groundbreaking technology.
They could also rule for the first time that an attack on infrastructure in space — such as satellites — could trigger the bloc’s collective self-defense clause.


Pakistani startups raise $85m amid rush of foreign funding in fintech

Pakistani startups raise $85m amid rush of foreign funding in fintech
Updated 13 June 2021

Pakistani startups raise $85m amid rush of foreign funding in fintech

Pakistani startups raise $85m amid rush of foreign funding in fintech
  • Internet finance platforms fetched about $22m mainly from abroad since January
  • Abhi, to be launched in July this year, will provide employees with salary advances based on accrued wages

KARACHI: Venture capitalists injected more than $85 million in Pakistani startups in the first five months of 2021, with fintech companies riding a wave of interest by overseas investors, according to data from Invest2Innovate Ventures (I2I), which supports early-stage enterprises in untapped developing markets.
Pakistani Internet platforms engaged in finance and business, or fintech companies, fetched about $22 million, mostly in foreign funding, since January 2021, according to Alpha Beta Core, a tech-driven boutique investment banking and financial advisory services platform.
It includes recent deals by TAG Innovation, KTrade and Abhi, which raised $12.1 million in separate rounds.
Industry experts said that Pakistan’s increasing mobile phone penetration and growing young population are major attractions for foreign funding in startups.
Official data shows Pakistan has 85 percent teledensity, with 183 million cellular, 98 million 3G/4G and 101 million broadband subscribers.
The decrease in global air travel during the coronavirus pandemic has also provided an unexpected advantage for startups in Pakistan, cutting out the requirement that investors visit the country as part of the due diligence process, and making them more open to discussing deals remotely over Zoom or other video conferencing platforms.
Syed Amin Ul Haque, federal minister for IT, told Arab News that fintechs were “gaining traction” in Pakistan due to government measures to create an “enabling environment,” including increasing broadband connectivity and reducing taxes on telecoms.
“IT enabling environment has been created in Pakistan through policy measures,” Haque said.
“Withholding tax was 12.5 percent and now it has been approved by the cabinet to bring it down to 10 percent. Federal excise duty on SIM cards was 17 percent, and now we have reduced it to 16 percent.
“All these measures will be part of the financial bill in the upcoming budget, to be implemented from July.”
During the last 10 months of the current fiscal year, IT exports had also increased by 46 percent, the minister said.
Kalsoom Lakhani, founder and partner at I2I, told Arab News that data collected by her firm showed that Pakistani startups had already raised close to $85 million in funding.
“This means that we have already surpassed the total amount, $65.6 million raised in 2020, by the middle of the year,” she said.
“Most of the funding has been made in e-commerce, but a high number of deals in fintech, mainly pre-seed and seed, were made.”
Khurram Schehzad, CEO of Alpha Beta Core, said that the growth of fintech in Pakistan was due to a realization that the country’s growing retail, wholesale and trade sectors required a better financial ecosystem.
“Pakistan is a highly under-tapped market as far as financial inclusion goes — just under 25 percent of the population use banks, while mostly cash is used for payments,” Schehzad told Arab News.
“There is a massive retail, wholesale and trade sector that needs a financial ecosystem with ease and comfort. With all these points, and a large middle class and tech-savvy population and youngsters, there is a need for solutions at various stages of the financial ecosystem.”
TAG, Pakistan’s first digital financial super app, last week announced that it had closed $5.5 million in a pre-seed round led by Venture Capitals Quiet Capital management and Liberty City Ventures from the US, and Fatima Gobi Ventures.
The funding round is the largest ever pre-seed in the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan region.
“The funds will be utilized to give access to Pakistan’s large unbanked population through digital accounts,” TAG co-founder and CEO Talal Ahmed Gondal told Arab News.
Ali Farid Khwaja, chairman of Karachi-based stock brokerage KASB Securities, which owns and operates stock trading app KTrade, said that the company wanted to “target 10 million mobile phone users to invest in Pakistani stocks within the next four years.”
“We will be spending money to educate people how to become partners in the country’s corporations and connecting them with financial markets,” he said.
The KTrade app, which launched in 2019 and allowed investors to trade in equities in the Pakistan Stock Exchange, raised $4.5 million in a funding round spearheaded by Hong Kong-based investment firm TTB Partners and New York-based VC HOF Capital.
German investor Christian Angermayer also took part in the round, according to a statement issued on Monday.
Another Pakistani fintech, Abhi, a Karachi-based salary advance platform, this week raised $2 million in a seed round led by Vostok Emerging Finance. Village Global, a US-based venture capital firm focused on early-stage startups, also took part in the round, marking its first fintech investment in Pakistan.
Other participants in the round included Sarmayacar, I2I, Zayn Capital and Portman Wills, the co-founder of Wagestream, a London-headquartered financial wellness platform.
Abhi, to be launched in July this year, will provide employees with salary advances based on accrued wages.
“We have been working on this idea for the past three years, and our core point was financial inclusion,” Omair Ansari, co-founder of Abhi, told Arab News.
“We want to address pain points in the manual payments process and allow employees to access their salary in advance when they need it.”
The startup is now conducting a three-month pilot run involving 20 companies from the pharmaceutical, textile and retail sectors.
Ansari believes that the Pakistani startup market is increasingly on the radar of global venture capitalists and “looking much better now.”
He plans to tap into the improving conditions to expand in Pakistan and then take his venture abroad.
“After focusing first on Pakistan, we plan to expand to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the UAE and Saudi Arabia,” Ansari said.
“Overseas operations are expected to commence within the next two years.”


Expert: UK terror attacks by ex-inmates ‘in the pipeline’

Expert: UK terror attacks by ex-inmates ‘in the pipeline’
Updated 13 June 2021

Expert: UK terror attacks by ex-inmates ‘in the pipeline’

Expert: UK terror attacks by ex-inmates ‘in the pipeline’
  • Ian Acheson carried out govt-commissioned review into extremism in prisons
  • Justice Ministry spokesperson: ‘A whole range of tools help us to manage extremist offenders’

LONDON: An attack by radicalized former inmates is “in the pipeline” in the UK because of a lack of control over extremism in the country’s jails, a former prison governor has warned.

Ian Acheson, who carried out a government-commissioned review into extremism in prisons, said attacks like those carried out by convicted terrorist Usman Khan and extremist Sudesh Amman were likely to be repeated.

“There are good people doing their best to make sure that another outrage won’t happen,” Acheson said, “but being good isn’t the same as doing well. Another Khan is in the pipeline.”

Khan murdered two people in London in November 2019, less than a year after being released from jail.

Amman carried out a knife attack in the capital three months later, a few days after he was released.

There was an attack on a prison officer by an extremist cell at HMP Whitemoor, and in June 2020 Khairi Saadallah, another released prisoner, murdered three people in an attack in a park in Reading. 

Acheson’s review, in 2016, led to the creation of three separation centers to remove terrorists and extremists from general prison populations, but only two are currently in use.

An anonymous prison officer working in a high-security facility told The Independent that he was worried about what was happening to extremists in British jails.

“The new ones that come in with an extremist view leave with a stronger one,” he said. “You’re releasing people onto the streets and you dread to think what’s going to happen. No matter what ministers say, everything is not great in UK prisons, it’s appalling.”

Jonathan Hall QC, the UK’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, is undertaking a review of terrorist offending inside jails after concerns were raised that crimes committed inside were not being prosecuted, causing “lost opportunities to mitigate risk.”

An inquest into Khan’s attack on Fishmongers’ Hall in London Bridge found that he had been radicalizing fellow inmates for years, but despite this being known to authorities, he was never moved to one of the separate facilities. He was originally jailed in 2012 for trying to set up a terrorist training camp in Kashmir.

An MI5 officer gave evidence to the inquest to say there “was a suggestion that Khan had become more extreme since entering prison,” and there were fears he could even coordinate terrorist activities from inside jail.

Another officer gave evidence to suggest that Khan had voiced his desire to commit an attack to fellow inmates prior to his release in 2018.

Acheson said: “I find it inconceivable that a man with Khan’s well-understood danger to national security was not even considered for separation let alone isolated.”

While in prison, Khan had direct content with radical preacher Abu Hamza and helped radicalize vulnerable inmates.

Khan also wrote a poem in prison about decapitating non-Muslims, and kept newspaper clippings about terrorist attacks and Daesh

Brusthom Ziamani, an associate of Khan, was found to have access to Daesh propaganda while in HMP Whitemoor.

Ziamani and fellow inmate Baz Hockton attempted to murder a prison officer at the facility in January 2020, six weeks after Khan’s attack on Fishmongers’ Hall.

A Justice Ministry spokesperson said in a statement: “We are locking up terrorists for longer, and have tough measures in place to prevent them from spreading their poisonous ideology in prison.

“More than 37,000 prison staff have been trained to identify, report and stop such behaviour, and a whole range of tools help us to manage extremist offenders.

“These include separation centres, which were introduced shortly before Khan left prison, but also monitoring communications and financial transactions and ensuring the strictest possible conditions on release.”


Filipino troops kill four Abu Sayyaf Group militants, including notorious commander, in Sulu

Filipino troops kill four Abu Sayyaf Group militants, including notorious commander, in Sulu
Updated 13 June 2021

Filipino troops kill four Abu Sayyaf Group militants, including notorious commander, in Sulu

Filipino troops kill four Abu Sayyaf Group militants, including notorious commander, in Sulu
  • Military commends joint task force efforts to nab ASG’s ‘extremely violent’ Yadah

MANILA: Philippine government forces have killed a notorious Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) commander, blamed for a series of kidnappings for ransom in the southern Philippines, along with three other ASG members during an intense battle on Sunday, officials said.

A report from the military’s Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) identified the ASG commander as Injam Yadah, who was killed in a joint military and police operation in Barangay Alat, Jolo island of Sulu province.

Two of the other slain members were identified as Al-Al Sawadjaan — reportedly the youngest brother of ASG bomb maker Mundi Sawadjaan — and a man known by the alias “Rauf.”

The identity of the third ASG member has yet to be established.

“Based on the report from the ground, combined elements of the military and police conducted a law enforcement operation to serve a warrant of arrest against ASG sub-group leader Injam Yadah ... around 2 a.m. on Sunday, June 13, 2021,” Wesmincom Commander Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr. said in a statement.

However, after “sensing the presence of troops” in the area, Yadah and his followers opened fire, which “prompted the government forces to retaliate.”

The Joint Task Force–Sulu (JTF) said that all four ASG members were “killed on the spot.”

“We’ve long been on the hunt for Yadah; he has a reputation of being extremely violent — beheading captured innocent civilians and security forces alike. Finally, his hideous acts will now come to a full stop,” a report obtained by Arab News quoted Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of JTF-Sulu, as saying.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Wilfredo Borgonia, Army 35th IB commander, said Yadah was involved in the kidnapping for ransom of several foreign nationals and Filipinos, including the ex-wife and daughter of former Talipao Mayor Tambrin Tulawie in 2018.

“His latest reported activity was the kidnapping of Filipino-American Rex Triplett in Sirawai, Zamboanga Sibugay, and Dr. Moreno in Jolo, in 2020,” Borgonia said, adding that Yadah also played a vital role in the kidnapping of five Indonesian nationals in Malaysia in January 2020.

“These are the kidnap victims rescued in Tawi-Tawi early this year,” Borgonia said.

Meanwhile, Al-Al Sawadjaan, according to Borgonio, was a bomb maker and had been in his early twenties.

“All the forces under JTF-Sulu are doubling their efforts to apprehend Mundi Sawadjaan. His brothers are now dead, and we are optimistic that he will also be neutralized,” Gonzales said.

“When that day comes, we can say that we have achieved total peace in the province. The local government and people here are one with us in this endeavor,” he added.

Operating troops seized an M653 carbine, a .45 caliber pistol, bomb components, and 15 mobile phones from Yadah’s house before detaining his wife, and rescuing their three children.

Since Jan. 2021, 121 ASG members have either been killed, captured or surrendered to government forces in Sulu, according to the military, out of which 18 were killed, 86 surrendered, and 17 were apprehended.

“Congratulations to the troops of JTF-Sulu and our partners for this successful operation,” Vinluan said, adding: “JTF-Sulu continuously implements its all-out campaign to eliminate the remaining ASG personalities in the province.”