|Tight security as charges filed against BIFF leaders|
|[PhilStar] More security personnel have been deployed in parts of central Mindanao after charges were filed against two Islamic militants implicated in recent bomb attacks. |
Police spokesman Graciano Mijares said police in Maguindanao have also asked village leaders to help stop attacks by sympathizers. He said, "We are not taking chances. Our personnel on the ground have also been maximizing their anti-terror intelligence gathering initiatives."
Police have filed multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder charges against more than a dozen Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters for the fatal August 28 and September 2 bombings in Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat. Among those named in the complaint are Esmael Abdulmalik, most known as Abu Toraife, and bomb-maker Salahuddin Hassan.
Abu Toraife is leader of one of three factions in the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. Hassan, meanwhile, was trained in making improvised explosive devices by slain Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, better known as Marwan. The two were last spotted holding out in Shariff Saidona town in Maguindanao.
Other than Abu Toraife's faction, the BIFF also has two other factions, one led by Imam Karialan and the other by Imam Bongos.
Local government units in central Mindanao have stepped up efforts against the BIFF, prompted by the bombings in Isulan, in General Santos City and in Midsayap town in North Cotabato in the past three weeks. The IED attack in Barangay Apopong, General Santos City on September 16 hurt eight people, one of them a three-year-old child.
|Three BIFF militants surrender in Maguindanao|
|[PhilStar] Three more members of the banned Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters surrendered on Friday and pledged allegiance to the Philippine flag.|
One of them told reporters they decided to surrender and turn over their firearms after realizing that their group, based in central Mindanao’s Liguasan Delta, could be next military target following an airstrike there two weeks ago that destroyed their makeshift bomb-making facility and killed nine, three of them foreign terrorists.
He said the squabbles of their commanders for leadership of the BIFF - which has three factions now, one of them led by an Islamic State-inspired cleric, Imam Abu Toraife - are worsening.
The surrender of the three men brings to 18 the number of BIFF rebels who surrendered to the 6th ID since April this year. The first to give up were four rebels trained in bomb-making by slain Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, most known as Marwan. Eleven more surrendered three weeks later.
Reports have circulated purporting that more than 20 BIFF members had been executed by their comrades from April to May alone on the mere suspicion they were in talks with groups interceding for their surrender. Two of those reportedly killed by companions gangland style, Akong Sumael and Khalid Tangan, were accused of providing the military information on their movements in the Liguasan Delta.
|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.
|BIFF bombs kill soldier, injure civilians|
|[AFP] Islamist militants have killed a soldier and injured three civilians in bomb attacks in the southern Philippines, the military said Wednesday.|
The soldier was fatally shot Tuesday while his unit was tracking Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters gunmen on a mountain trail near the town of Datu Unsay. Regional military spokesman Captain Arvin Encinas said, "The dead soldier was involved in a clearing operation (against the BIFF)."
A roadside bomb apparently intended for a military convoy in the neighboring town of Datu Hoffer injured three civilians instead, Encinas added. He said both military units were pursuing BIFF rebels who had clashed with security forces in the same region on Saturday, a gun battle that killed a soldier and five militants.
Encinas said some BIFF rebels had been trained in making improvised explosive devices by Zulkifli bin Hir, a Malaysian killed in a police operation two years ago.
"These are students of Marwan. There's quite a few of them," Encinas said of the bomb makers, referring to Zulkifli's alias.
|Philippine police says Isnilon Hapilon alive; military says he's dead|
|[Inquirer] The Philippine military on Monday discredited a police claim that a Malaysian militant had succeeded slain leader Isnilon Hapilon as the Islamic State's “emir” in southeast Asia.|
In a news conference on Monday morning, PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa identified the Malaysian as “drone operator” Amin Baco. Dela Rosa presented to reporters arrested Indonesian militant Muhammad Ilham Syahputra, according to whom, he said, Baco was not only leading the remaining Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Marawi but also had taken over as “emir."
Experts say Baco was trained under Malaysian militant Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, who was killed in 2015. Baco was reported to have been killed in Marawi but Reuters, citing intelligence sources, reported that he had fled. Dela Rosa said it was “possible” but “unconfirmed” that Baco had slipped out of Marawi.
But in a statement issued on Monday afternoon, Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said Baco was believed to be among the terrorists killed in Marawi. The statement said, "Baco’s remains [are] now the subject of an ongoing aggressive search. The AFP strongly believes that the [Maute group] is now leaderless and without direction."
Padilla maintained that only “clearing operations” were going on in Marawi to get the last IS-inspired terrorists who were “fighting for survival” and hiding “in the hope of escaping.”
Padilla was quoting Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, who in a separate interview with reporters on Monday said Baco was most likely dead.
In an interview with reporters at AFP headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana did not confirm or deny Dela Rosa’s claim but appeared to play it down. Lorenzana said that even if Baco was now the leader of the stragglers in Marawi, “I think he can no longer amass that number of troops that [Hapilon] can bring to Marawi.”
Troops killed nine of the stragglers in a firefight on Sunday, according to Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., deputy commander of the military forces in Marawi. Brawner said among those killed was Ibrahim Maute, alias Abu Jamil, a cousin of the Maute brothers who led the siege of Marawi in alliance with Hapilon’s faction of the Abu Sayyaf and a number of foreign fighters.
|Court orders arrest of Abu Sayyaf 'hard-core mother'|
|[Rappler] A court has issued an arrest warrant against the mother of a terrorist bomb expert, who, together with a female police official, had attempted to rescue Abu Sayyaf remnants that drifted to Bohol in April this year. Judith Dongon, mother of bomb expert Renierlo Dongon, faces charges of resistance and disobedience of an agent of a person in authority.|
Dongon, her son Renierlo, a 13-year-old son of Rajah Sulaiman Movement leader Ahmed Santos, and now dismissed Police Superintendent Maria Cristina Nobleza were arrested on April 22 in Clarin town, Bohol, on suspicions of attempting to rescue Abu Sayyaf stragglers.
The four were intercepted at a checkpoint set up by the army and the police at the height of pursuit operations against the fleeing Abu Sayyaf rebels that tried to infiltrate Bohol. Police recovered bomb-making materials and blasting caps at their rented apartment in Panglao town.
Dongon and Nobleza, considered "high-risk detainees," arrived in Bohol on Friday to face charges on illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Certain roads in the city were closed to commuters Friday as the court heard the case. SWAT operatives were deployed outside the court building.
Earlier, PNP Director General Roland "Bato" Dela Rosa called Judith Dongon a "hard-core mother" due to her alleged ties with extremists. Judith's daughters had married slain Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan (who was killed in 2015), Abu Sayyaf founder Khadaffy Janjalani, Abu Sulayman al-Muhajir (believed to be a senior member of al-Qaeda's Al Nusra Front), and Santos.
R. Dongon was the alleged culprit in the 2012 bombing in Cagayan de Oro City which killed four people, including two police officers. Dongon, who was once detained in Camp Crame, was later released by court due to "legal technicalities."
|23 Moro militants killed in three-day assault|
|[Inquirer] The Philippine military said air and ground assaults on hideouts of Moro militants suspected of providing shelter to terrorists had killed at least 21 militants and injured 26 others. The offensives took place from March 13 to 16.|
Abu Misry Mama, spokesperson for the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, said the attacks only led to displacement of villagers. He said, "The bombs only hit trees and the marshland. We were not there when the bombings occurred. We are not affected, only the civilians were displaced."
"We are still here," Mama said, denying that the BIFF was providing shelter to terrorists.
Early Saturday morning, five weapons were recovered following a brief clash between troops and the BIFF in Raja Buayan, Maguindanao. Military spokesman John Encinas said soldiers also found manuals for bomb-making that indicated the presence of terrorists in the area.
The militants and their trainees were allegedly targeting power lines and other civilian installations in Mindanao. Encinas said the group that the soldiers encountered in Raja Buayan was among those trained by slain international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, who was killed in Maguindanao, in January 2015.
The group with links to Marwan has been training local rebels, including members of the Maute Group, to make bombs. Test missions include bombing power pylons and public places.
|Cops kill foreign terrorist, Tokboy's 'partner'|
|[RAPPLER] Two were killed in a follow-up police operation against local terror group Ansar Khalifa Philippines (AKP) Saturday morning, January 7, in barangay Daliao of Sarangani's Maasim town.|
Security officials identified them as foreign terrorist Abu Naila and a woman named Kadija. The 2 reportedly resisted arrest. Cops fired at them when they attempted to throw a rifle grenade.
Naila's nationality and affiliation are yet to be ascertained, but he is only one of several foreign believed to have joined the local terror group that pledged allegiance to the Kadija is suspected be one of the live-in partners of AKP's slain leader Mohammad Jaafar Maguid or "Tokboy."
Police said they will continue pursuit operations against foreign who have joined AKP in Sarangani.
Security officials claim AKP has no direct links with the foreign terrorist organization, but the group has confirmed links with Indonesian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).
"Tokboy was trained by key JI leaders, including Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, better known as Marwan, the high profile target of the Mamasapano tragedy that derailed the peace talks," wrote Rappler executive editor Maria Ressa.
"AKP under Tokboy has a direct link to Indonesian groups, especially MIT, Mujihidin Indonesia Timur, led by an Indonesian who trained in the Philippines, Santoso," Ressa added.
AKP is also believed to be behind threats against the November 2015 APEC Summit in Manila, which was spread by ISIS propaganda sites.
|Experts question incentives in Rewards for Justice program|
|[Inquirer] The $5 million price tag for the capture, dead or alive, of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, has caught the attention of experts in the aftermath of a tragic police operation to take him down in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, a year ago.|
How the bounty affected the overall conduct of the operation is not clear. However, a Jakarta-based think-tank has urged a rethinking of the role of rewards in the war on terror. As with other terrorists, the bounty for Marwan's capture was put up by the U.S. Rewards for Justice program. The program is credited for aiding in the downfall of key Abu Sayyaf leaders. As of 2012, intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting said, more than $11 million in bounties had been paid out in the Philippines by the program.
The program's website listed as part of its success stories the capture of key Abu Sayyaf figures: Toting Craft Hanno, Khadaffy Janjalani (deceased), and Abu Solaiman and Hamsiraji Marusi Sali. It paid $100,000 for Hanno, $5 million for Janjalani, $5 million for Solaiman, and $1 million for Sali.
In a report, the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, said,"The huge bounties placed on the heads of foreign jihadis have helped to burnish their reputations as world-class terrorists, perhaps out of proportion to their actual roles. They encourage killing high-value targets rather than making any effort to arrest them alive."
In 2008, a Brussels-based think-tank warned about the distorting effect of monetary rewards in the drive against terrorists in the Philippines. In its report, the International Crisis Group noted that military informants "equate amount of bounty with the importance of the individual concerned."
It cited the case of Jemaah Islamiyah operatives Umar Patek and Dulmatin. Dulmatin, who reports to Umar Patek, commanded $10 million in reward for his capture while his boss only fetched $1 million.
The Rewards for Justice program now lists four terrorists in East Asia and the Pacific region whose capture merits its bounty. They are Isnilon Hapilon of Abu Sayyaf, up to $5 million; Radullan Sahiron of Abu Sayyaf, up to $1 million; and Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah operative Aris Sumarsono alias Zulkarnaen or Daud, up to $5 million. Abdul Basit Usman of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, who was killed last year, is still on the list, with a reward of up to $1 million.
|Zamboanga blast: One year later|
|[Inquirer] Philippine president Aquino was infuriated: Abu Sayyaf terrorists had detonated a car bomb in the heart of Zamboanga City on Jan. 23, 2015, and had managed to smuggle firearms into the city jail. A ranking Malacañang official said last week, "The President was really pissed off that time," adding that he wanted to go to the city to check the security situation there for himself.|
Aquino's whereabouts in Zamboanga City have been questioned in light of renewed calls in the Senate to look into his role in the Special Action Force operation to capture wanted Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, which led to the death of 44 police commandos.
Other sources said that Aquino was to fly to Zamboanga on January 25, the birthday of his late mother, former President Corazon Aquino.
The ASG planned to spring out of jail Benzar Indama, who is the brother of Abu Sayyaf leader Puruji Indama, and 56 other members. It had been less than two years since the bloody Zamboanga siege, where a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front led by Nur Misuari, tried to take over the city. The 2013 battle claimed the lives of nine civilians, 18 soldiers, five policemen and some 100 MNLF fighters.
The January 23 car bombing killed two people and wounded more than 50. That day, two government agents had been monitoring the movements of at least two suspected Abu Sayyaf militants, and had even followed them into an alley, not knowing that a homemade bomb had been planted inside the car parked in front of a bus terminal.
|Daesh-linked terrorists bomb port terminal in Basilan|
|[The Standard] Armed men believed to be members of a Philippine terrorist group with links to Daesh detonated a bomb Tuesday morning in a port terminal in Lamitan, Basilan, as the military finally admitted the presence of nine foreign terrorists.|
Lamitan chief of police Gean Gallardo said the bomb went off near the main entrance to the terminal. The blast damaged a water tank and shattered windows but there were no reported casualties.
The bombing comes a day after Armed Forces chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri confirmed that at least nine foreign terrorists have sought sanctuary in Mindanao for years, assisting local terrorists in bomb making techniques.
Iriberri flew to Mindanao shortly after the Jakarta bombing, emphasizing the need for security forces to increase pressure on the Abu Sayyaf and other militant groups harboring foreign jihadis in Basilan, Sulu and Central Mindanao.
Of the nine foreign terrorists, four were Malaysian nationals identified as University Malaya lecturer Mahmud bin Ahmad, former Selayang Municipal Council employee Muhammad Joraimee Bin Awang Raimee, Mohammad Amin Baco and Jeknal bin Adil.
Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said their compatriots who were enlisted by the Islamic State fled to Mindanao after an intensified crackdown was launched against them in 2013. He said the Islamist militants are associated with Daulah Islamiyah Asia Tenggara (Southeast Asia Islamiya Network) with links to Daesh.
In January 2015, Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir was killed in a clash with commandos in the ill-fated Operation Exodus in Mamasapano, where 44 policemen were slain. Troops also killed an Indonesian terrorist, Sucipto Ibrahim Ali, a member of the Mujahidin Indonesia Timur, along with six Filipino militants, as well as Moho Najib bin Husen last year.
Iriberri said it was not clear if the Abu Sayyaf was receiving funding from Daesh or other terrorist organizations.
He also said they are checking into reports that an Indonesian terrorist who led the attack in Jakarta might have fled to Mindanao and eventually established an alliance with local rebels.
|Philippines persues two Daesh-linked terrorists|
|[Manila Times] The Philippine Army's 73rd Infantry Battalion based in Davao del Sur has begun pursuit operations to track down Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, the alleged leader of Ansar al-Khilafah (Supporters of the Caliphate) in the Philippines (AKP). He is believed to be in the hinterlands of Sarangani Province.|
Colonel Ronnie Babac is leading the operation against Maguid and his close associate, identified as Limbo Jusin Pala. The two are top on the list of high-profile members of the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) under its fallen leader Abdul Basit Usman. Maguid was tasked to continue the role of Usman and Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as "Marwan."
Maguid, alias Tokboy, who escaped from a four-hour firefight with security forces in the town of Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat on November 23, was reportedly on a mission to create large-scale violence in Central Mindanao.
The AKP has claimed affiliation with Daesh, whose presence in Mindanao was confirmed by a ranking military intelligence officer. Another source from Maguindanao said that Maguid directly trained under two Indonesian nationals who arrived in Mindanao three years ago. The Indonesians are reportedly training Daesh recruits organized by Maguid in undisclosed areas near the MILF camp. Their recruits are thought to be disgruntled MILF commanders who now strongly support Daesh in the region.
Maguid and Pala were also tagged as former cell leaders of the 3rd Battalion, Headquarters Brigade of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters’ (BIFF) inner defense group led by its regional field commander Ustadz Haun Salindatu.
Maguid, charged for attacks on the town center of Maasim, Sarangani in August 2008 that killed three people, was arrested in July 2009 but managed to escape from the Sarangani provincial jail in March 2010. Maguid is also facing a series of other charges including for a grenade attack in Maasim Town in June 2009; the murder of Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel Pacquiao's cousin Rogelio Pacquiao in July 2009; the killing of Maasim Vice Mayor Sawab Pangolima last October; and several other incidents.