A Philippine Islamic militant on the US government's "most wanted" list has been arrested in a Manila slum, seven years after he spectacularly broke out of jail.
Khair Mundos, who had a US$500,000 US government reward on his head, was detained in a rundown Muslim quarter near the airport where he was staying with relatives, the police and military said after a joint raid.
Manila's criminal investigation chief, Senior Superintendent Roberto Fajardo, said Mundos had moved to the capital to avoid pursuit in the south, but he would not disclose how long the militant had been hiding in the city.
"It was getting too hot [in the south] so he came here while waiting for things to cool down," Fajardo said.
Mundos did not resist arrest, according to another senior police officer. Photos released by police after the arrest showed him clean shaven and muscular.
The head of military intelligence, Major General Eduardo Ano, said Mundos' capture was a big blow for the Abu Sayyaf, which has proved an enduring threat despite its relatively low numbers and a United States-backed offensive.
"Those people lost one of their leaders ... and they will be feeling insecure," Ano. He said Mundos was not in Manila to plan or lead any attack in the capital, but was simply trying to avoid capture.
The US "Rewards for Justice" website describes him as a "key leader and financier" of the Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic militant group which has been blamed for the worst extremist attacks in the Philippines.
Mundos had been captured in 2004 on Mindanao, a largely lawless island about 1,000km from Manila where the Abu Sayyaf is based.
He was arrested "on the first-ever money laundering charges against terrorists", the "Rewards for Justice" website said.
It said Mundos confessed in custody to having arranged the transfer of al-Qaeda funds to the Abu Sayyaf's top leader for bombings and other criminal acts throughout Mindanao. He was also charged with multiple counts of murder.
However Mundos was among dozens of the militants who escaped from the Kidapawan City prison in Mindanao in February 2007.
During the daring break, Muslim insurgents using grenade launchers blasted their way into the jail before dawn, then pinned down a handful of guards with rifle fire while Mundos and the others fled.