|Manila says first Filipino ‘suicide bomber’ behind last month’s attack|
|[ENGLISH.ALARABIYA.NET] Philippine security forces confirmed Wednesday that at least one Filipino "" was behind a deadly attack last month, in a first for the Asian country.|
Norman Lasuca and one other yet to be identified suspect blew themselves up outside a military camp on the remote southern island of Jolo on June 28 in an attack that also killed three soldiers and two civilians, the police and military said.
"We can now confirm... the incidence of the first in the Philippines, perpetrated by a Filipino in the person of Norman Lasuca," military Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo told a news conference.
The Jolo bombing marks a worrying escalation of militancy driven by the influence of the ISIS group in Southeast Asia, security experts earlier told AFP.
A decades-old insurgency in the southern Philippines has killed tens of thousands.
But s have been used extremely rarely, with blamed for the few that have been carried out.
National police Bernard Banac described last month’s bombing as "a locally initiated attack organized by the group", a Jolo-based gang of engaged in kidnappings and bombings.
"The report as claimed by ISIS that they are the ones responsible for this is still up to validation and that remains to be seen," he told s, referring to ISIS by an alternative name.
Philippine authorities said the two suspected Jolo bombers’ remains were tested for DNA, and one matched that of Lasuca’s mother and brother, who are both Tausugs, the predominant ethnic group in Jolo.
Experts are still attempting to identify the second bomber, Banac said.
"Before, we only heard of IED (improvised ) attacks, remote-controlled attacks but this time an individual as a full-fledged suicide bomber," Arevalo said.
"We (security forces) will have adjustments in techniques, tactics and procedures given this development," he said.
"We consider this to be an isolated case," he added.
he acknowledged that "the security environment in our country has changed" and civilians should help the security forces combat the new threat.
They must ensure prospective recruits "won’t be radicalized by terrorist groups (who are) only waiting for the right time and individual to bring to the road of extremism," he said.
Arevalo said Lasuca’s mother described the son, in his early twenties, as a former "battered" child who endured beatings meted out by his father.
|Three Soldiers Killed in Philippines' Restive South, ISIS claims attack|
|[AnNahar] An attack on a special Philippine army counter-terrorism unit left three soldiers dead and nine others in the southern Philippines on Friday, military spokesmen and witnesses told AFP.|
Unknown suspects targeted the unit's temporary headquarters on the island of Jolo, a stronghold of -linked s.
"It was a bomb and a firefight," army Colonel Ramon Zagala told AFP, adding the attackers' identities were not immediately known.
An AFP on the scene saw a blood-soaked man slumped on a tricycle on a street also stained with blood in front of the temporary headquarters of the army's 1,500-member First Brigade Combat team.
The Philippines has renewed its campaign against the in Jolo this year after at least one suspected attacked the island's Roman Catholic cathedral, killing 21 people.
Major Arvin Arcinas, the region's military , said three army members were killed in Friday's attack, with nine other soldiers were .
He said he could not confirm if there were civilian casualties and could not say what kind of explosives were used.
Jolo and other remote areas of the southern Philippines are home to numerous s including the Abu Sayyaf, which is notorious for kidnappings and bombings.
The s, who demand large ransoms and have beheaded several hostages, have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.
The army deployed the specially trained unit in the Jolo town of Indanan four weeks ago.
In the same week, a Dutch birdwatcher held for years by the Abu Sayyaf was killed in Jolo during a firefight between his kidnappers and soldiers sent to rescue him.
ISIS claims responsibility for Philippine army camp bombing that left 5 dead
[Reuters via Task & Purpose] An explosion at a military base in the restive southern Philippines on Friday killed five people, including three soldiers, and wounded nine others in what Islamic State said was an attack by its suicide bombers.
The military said the blast occurred at around noon at a base on Jolo island, a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, a splintered militant network notorious for kidnapping and piracy and for its pledge of allegiance to Islamic State.
Islamic State said via its Amaq news agency that its fighters had infiltrated the base strapped with explosives and killed or wounded 100 soldiers. It posted an image of two young men standing beside a black Islamic State flag, wearing what appeared to be vests designed to hold explosives.
Neither the claim nor the authenticity of the photograph could be immediately verified.
The incident will be a major setback for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's goal of wiping out Abu Sayyaf, for which he has created a special infantry division on Jolo to be comprised of 4,500 troops by 2022.
There was no immediate comment from Duterte's office.
|ISIS bride helping CIA track down Baghdadi|
The woman, Nisrine Assad Ibrahim, better known by her doom-inducing nom de guerre, Umm Sayyaf, has reportedly helped in joint CIA-Kurdish efforts to track down Mr Baghdadi by providing detailed accounts of his movements over the years, including the locations of safe houses as well as the obscure traveling routes that he takes.
Miss Sayyaf, 29-years-old, and believed to be Iraqi, was captured in a 2015 US Delta Force raid in Syria, in which her husband, ’s then-second in command and the group’s so-called oil minister, , was killed.
Since being detained, Miss Sayyaf has reportedly spent many hours helping American use maps to determine where Baghdadi may be bogged down.
"They were very polite [the American ] and wore civilian clothes," she told the Guardian, "I showed them everything I knew."
In February 2016, Miss Sayyaf is said to have provided the location of a house in the northern Iraqi city of where she believed Baghdadi was hiding out. Yet, despite being so close to bagging the world’s most wanted man, Kurdish officials told the Guardian that the US did not want to carry out an on the home for fear of killing civilians in the tightly packed neighbourhood.
"I told them where the house was," Umm Sayyaf is reported as having said.
"I knew he’d been there because it was one of the houses that was provided for him, and one of the places he liked the most," she told the Guardian.
|Islamist jihadists prime suspects in Philippine cathedral bombing|
Two s tore through the cathedral on the -majority island of Jolo yesterday, killing worshipers at Sunday mass and security forces in an attack claimed by the terror group.
Authorities say the so-called Ajang-Ajang faction is a small band of several dozen that most likely carried out the bombing, the Philippines’ worst in years, in an act of .
"Last year their leader was killed. There have been persistent reports that they will retaliate," regional military Lieutenant Colonel Gerry Besana tells AFP.
"Yes, we saw them in the CCTV. It was the brother of the leader who was killed," he says referring to footage from outside the cathedral. "He was seen with two other members of Ajang-Ajang."
Security forces say the group is composed of relatives of Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom group members who have been killed in with the government.
The vote was the result of negotiations started in the 1990s with the nation's largest rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and will give it considerable power over the so-called Bangsamoro region.
The IS claim, in a formal communique, said two s had detonated s, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist activities.
But a military report said the second bomb was left in the utility box of a in the parking area outside the church. Police said they believe the explosives were detonated remotely, but did elaborate.
|Bombs kill |
|[IsraelTimes] Attack during Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel occurs on Jolo island, long troubled by terror organization.|
Two bombs outside a Roman Catholic cathedral on a southern Philippine island where are active, killing at least 19 people and wounding nearly 50 during a Sunday Mass, officials said.
The first bomb went off in or near the Jolo cathedral in the , followed by a second blast outside the compound as government forces were responding to the attack, security officials said.
Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde said that at least 19 people died and 48 were . Police and military reports said the casualties included both troops and civilians.
No one has immediately .
The attack came nearly a week after minority s in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation endorsed a new autonomous region in the southern Philippines in hopes of ending nearly five decades of a separatist rebellion that has left 150,000 people dead.
Although most of the areas approved it, voters in Sulu province, where Jolo is located, rejected it. The province is home to a rival rebel faction that’s opposed to the deal as well as the Abu Sayyaf group, which is not part of any
As soldiers responded, a second device was detonated in the car park.
The local officials say the first blast happened at 08:45 local time (00:45 GMT) inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which has been hit by bombs in the past.
The second explosion was shortly afterwards on the doorstep of the church.
Local police initially put the death toll at 27 but later lowered it to 20, saying there was double counting in earlier official reports.
Most of the victims are civilians.
The referendum was the result of a peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
|Two Islamic State leaders killed in artillery shelling on Iraqi-Syrian border|
|Anbar (IraqiNews.com) ‐ Two leaders were killed Wednesday in an artillery shelling by the Popular Mobilization Forces on the Syrian city of al-Baghuz on the border with Iraq.|
"Artillery shells were fired against three hotbeds of Islamic State near the Syrian city of al-Baghuz, leaving two Islamic State leaders dead," Alghad Press website quoted deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces as saying in a statement.
"The pair, codenamed as and Abu Laith, were standing behind the recent attacks against the Syrian Democratic Forces stationed on the Iraqi-Syrian border," added the statement.
On Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi stressed the need for tightening security along the border with neighboring Syria to eradicate terrorist groups scattered there.
|Malaysia arrests seven men with Islamic State links over attacks plot|
|[Ynet] Malaysian police have seven men with links to the group who were planning attacks on non- places of worship and other targets, authorities said on Saturday.|
Six Malaysians were arrested in Johor state, north of Singapore, while a seventh, a Filipino member of the ISIS-linked group, was detained in the eastern state of Sabah, in multiple operations between Feb. 27 and Mar. 15, Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun said in a statement.
He said the six detained in Johor were members of an ISIS cell and included a 37-year-old technician who recruited new and was believed to be the of planned attacks on non- places of worship in the state's capital.
|44 pro-Islamic State militants killed in clash with Philippine troops: Army|
|[AlAhram] At least 44 pro- were killed and 26 more were when Philippine soldiers shelled positions held by the rebels in southern Maguindanao province, the army said on Sunday.|
The fighting, initially with about 50 members of the (BIFF), broke out in a remote village in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town from Thursday morning and lasted the following day, said Lt. Col. Gerry Besana.
A soldier was slightly , the army said in a separate statement.
The number of BIFF members killed and was based on intelligence information, Besana said. The military did not recover any enemy bodies, he said.
Besana said the military launched artillery attacks with air support as the number of BIFF fighters had risen to about one hundred during the fighting.
The military classifies the BIFF, which it said has about 300 members, as a terrorist organization, along with the and Maute groups.
"Seventy were killed and injured (on the BIFF side), we are still pursuing about 200 more," Besana said, adding that the clash had displaced about 500 families.
The in southern Philippines were regrouping, retraining and recruiting new members for another attack elsewhere after occupying the southern city of Marawi for five months last year, according to the army.
|US designates 'Daesh-Egypt', other ISIS affiliates as terrorist groups|
|[AlAhram] The US Department of State designated on Wednesday "-Egypt" as a terrorist group as part of new designations of groups and individuals in several countries, saying it will continue to target and "deny it access to the US financial system." |
The designation also included 40 leaders and groups in Tunisia, Somalia, Nigeria, Bangladesh and the Philippines.
"These designations are part of a larger comprehensive plan to defeat [ ] in coordination with the 75-member global coalition to defeat the group," a statement said.
The -Egypt group has for terrorist attacks in Egypt's Wahat region, the Nile Delta and Upper Egypt.
-Egypt most recently claimed an attack by a gunman on a Coptic church in Helwan, south of Cairo, which killed nine people in December.
In April 2014, the US designated the North Sinai-based affiliate Ansar Beit al-Maqdis as a terrorist organization.
In January, the US State Department placed on its terror list two other Egyptian terrorist groups, Hasm and , which Egyptian authorities have linked to the organization.
Manila Hails US Move to Blacklist Local IS-Linked Groups
[AnNahar] The Philippines hailed on Wednesday Washington's decision to blacklist two local pro- groups, including one which occupied the southern city of Marawi last year, triggering a months-long battle.
The US State Department and the Department of Treasury designated the Maute group and the Dawlatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masrik as "terrorist organizations" on Tuesday, blocking US-based assets belonging to them or their supporters and barring Americans from dealing with them.
"The (move) is an affirmation of what Philippine authorities already know -- that the Maute Group and the Dawlah-Islamiya are terrorist groups that need to be dealt with decisively using the full force of the law," a statement by the defence ministry in Manila said.
"They will be denied access to the US financial system and will face sanctions as may be deemed appropriate, making it more difficult for them to conduct their activities in the Philippines and abroad."
Militants from the Maute group were routed from Marawi last October after a five-month battle sparked by its bid to establish an IS caliphate in the largely Catholic country's southern Mindanao region.
The US, a long-time defence ally, helped Philippine forces with intelligence input, including reconnaissance flights, during the fighting which claimed more than 1,100 lives and reduced large parts of the city to rubble.
However the Philippine military warned last week that remaining members of the group have recruited about 200 to mount another attempt.
The Dawlatul Islamiyah, or Dawlah-Islamiya as designated by the Philippine defence ministry, is a smaller faction also based in Mindanao.
"We are profoundly committed to preventing ISIS from gaining (a) foothold in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia, and we should continue working together on this objective," Philippine Foreign Undersecretary Ernesto Abella told s, using an acronym for IS.
Brigadier-General Bienvenido Datuin, for the Philippine military, said the US move would boost local counter-terrorism efforts.
"(A) specific advantage... is the checking of money trail, financial sources, logistics lines and conduits of terror groups in foreign countries that may have connections with local violent s," he said.
Other armed Philippine groups that have made the US terror blacklist in previous years include the New People's Army, waging a decades-old Maoist armed rebellion, and the , which linked up with the Maute in Marawi last year.
|Police arrest widow of Jemaah Islamiyah leader Marwan|
|[RAPPLER] The widow of notorious Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) leader Marwan has been on Sunday, February 25, the Philippine National Police announced.|
Juromee Dongon was arrested by police operatives in an operation in Tubod, Lanao del Norte early Sunday morning.
Dongon was married to a of the notorious kidnap-for-ransom group, Khadaffy Janjalani. After his death in 2006 she married Malaysian bombmaker Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, who was killed in 2015 in the Philippines, police said.
Aside from Dongon, arrested were her sister Lorilie Atta y Dongon and SPO4 Andy Atta, Lorilie's husband.
Confiscated from the 3 were:
One fragmentation grenade
6 blasting caps
One blasting cap assembly
One electric detonating cord
One non-electric detonating cord
One plastic container
Two sling bags
One 9mm Glock 17 pistol issued by the PNP
3 magazines for the Glock 17 pistol
37 live ammunition for the 9mm pistol
"[Dongon] assists, associates, networks and supports terrorist groups," regional police Superintendent Lemuel Gonda told Agence -Presse.
"Juromee is linked with Abu Sayyaf during the time of Janjalani and then later Jemaah Islamiyah," he added, referring to a Southeast Asian group.
Marwan was a leading member of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and a suspect in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people as well as in two deadly Philippine attacks.
He died in a raid in the southern Philippines that also left 44 police commandos dead. The US had offered a $5 million bounty for him.
Father of Romeo Dongon arrested
In a separate operation, cops also arrested Romeo Dongon, alias "Faisal" at Sitio Tinago, San Juan, Baroy, Lanao del Norte, and found illegal firearms in his possession. Dongon's daughter Norein Dongon Santos was also arrested.
Romeo Dongon is the father of Renierlo Dongon, who was the terrorist who had a love affair with a police official, Superintendent Cristina Nobleza. It can be recalled that Nobleza and Dongon were arrested back in April 2017, when the two attempted to evade capture during a police operation against the Abu Sayyaf in Bohol. (READ: Cop detained over alleged plot to rescue ASG in Bohol)
The team was composed of operatives from the regional Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Special Action Force, provincial and municipal cops.
Cops seized the following from the house:
One Colt MK1V .45 caliber pistol
One magazine of caliber .45 bullets
3 pieces of caliber .45 cartridges
One M61 fragmentation hand grenade
One gray empty blasting cup
One two-feet yellow detonating cord
Cops also confiscated a Samsung tablet, a Lenovo laptop with a handbag case, a 4 mobile phones, and two electrical wires.
Dongon family's terror links
An exclusive report by Rappler's Maria Ressa back in April revealed that the Dongon family is no stranger to controversial terror-linked marriages.
Zainab Dongon, another Dongon daughter, was the wife of Zulkifli Bin Hir, alias Marwan. Zainab had also married the brother of Abu Sayyaf founder Abdujarak Janjalani, Khadaffy Janjalani, who was killed by government forces.
Another sister, Aminah, married Jainal Antel Sali, also known as Abu Solaiman. A 41-year-old civil engineer, he was Khadaffy Janjalani's deputy.
Romeo Dongon's wife, Judith Dongon, was arrested with Renierlo and Nobleza in the April 2017 incident in Clarin, Bohol.
Norein herself is apparently the wife of Ahmad Santos, the founder and leader of the Rajah Solaiman Movement until his arrest in 2005.
They have been put under the custody of the CIDG, which handles high-level suspects and criminals.
|2 more Abu Sayyaf members lay down arms|
|[RAPPLER] As military troops sustain their offensives and pressure in the BaSulTa ( -Sulu-Tawi-Tawi) area, two more members laid down their arms in Basilan on Sunday, February 4.|
Hasib Sarikin Mion and Hamdi Nor Bareo surrendered to members of the 74th Infantry Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Jonas Templo in Barangay Macalang, Albarka, Basilan at 2:00 pm on February 4.
"Mion is an Abu Sayyaf member under Furuji Indama and Bareo is listed under the AFP’s list as a member of the group of Nurhassan Jamiri," said Brigadier General Juvymax Uy, the commander of the Joint Task Force Basilan.
Mion and Bareo yielded their two US M1 Garand rifles to the troops.
|3 notorious Abu Sayyaf surrender in Basilan|
|[SUNSTAR.PH] THREE notorious members of the |
Group (ASG) have surrendered to the military authorities in the province of , officials announced on Sunday, February 4. Brigadier General Juvymax Uy, Army’s 104th Infantry Brigade commander, identified them as Garama Sulayman, 21; Omar Jaljalis, 18; and, Marhaban Pael, 34. Uy said they surrendered around 7 p.m., Saturday, February 3, and turned over two M-16 "Baby Armalite" rifles and a Carbine rifle with ammunition.
Uy said Mayor Gulam Hataman of Sumisip municipality has facilitated the surrender of the three . They were taken to the headquarters of the 104th Infantry Brigade for custodial debriefing, medical checkup, and proper disposition. Uy said the surrenderees informed them they decided to surrender due to difficulties in life and maltreatment from their leaders.
"We gladly welcome our surrenderees and those other members who wish to lay down their arms and end the armed conflicts in BASULTA (Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi) areas. There can be no better solution but to work in harmony to end terrorism," Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez Jr., Western Mindanao Command chief, said.
The surrender of the three have brought to 170 the total number of Abu Sayyaf who surrendered to the government authorities since last year.