MANILA - The suspected terrorist recruiter arrested last month in Taguig City asserted Friday that she was "just a blogger" falsely accused of involvement in the Islamic State-linked Maute group.
Karen Aizha Hamidon, wife of Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, slain leader of the Ansarul Khalifa Philippines (AKP) or the "Maguid Group,” made the statement after appearing at the preliminary investigation of the Department of Justice into criminal complaints against her.
Hamidon, accused of recruiting Maute members through social media, is facing 14 counts of violations of Article 138 (inciting a rebellion or insurrection) of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to Republic Act (RA) 10175, also known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
She admitted to being formerly married to ISIS-linked Singaporean national Muhammad Shamin Mohammed Sidek.
At the hearing, Hamidon was represented by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO). She was given up to Nov. 10 to submit her counter-affidavit and other defenses.
Following proceedings, Hamidon told reporters she “strongly denies" all the charges and “false accusations” against her, insisting she is "just a blogger.”
She stressed she “has nothing to do” with the cause of the Maute group, the local terror group behind the 5-month siege of Marawi City. Government recently declared hostilities in the area over following the killing of terror leaders.
“I’m into journalistic articles, composition, and a writer… I’m an Islamic propagator, I’m a Muslim missionary, the counterpart of a Christian missionary. I only use the social media as my avenue to
spread the message of Islam for religious purposes, for maximum audiences,” she said.
“They’ve already sensationalized my story because I’ve already reached the pinnacle of international notoriety with the usage of the social media,” Hamidon said, referring to the National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI), whose operatives arrested her on Oct. 11.
She further accused the NBI of “planting” evidence against her.
“They acted as these cyber undercover agents and [conducted] cyber surveillance, so they’ve pretended to be someone who's also affiliated with us,” Hamidon said.
On the part of the NBI, lawyer Joshua Raymundo said the bureau has a strong case against Hamidon.
“Let the evidence speak for itself. She was arrested because she posted messages on Telegram and WhatsApp whereby she called on people to join the rebellion currently happening in Marawi at the time,” Raymundo told reporters.
The NBI also shared to reporters a voice clip of Hamidon pledging allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi "for loyalty and obedience in adversity and comfort,” promising to "obey him on anything which my heart desires or not, and to value him more than anyone else.”
“I will not take any Emir other than him unless if I see in him any obvious act of disbelief that I could be questioned by Allah in the hereafter,” the voice, attributed to Hamidon, went on in the clip.
Raymundo said Hamidon’s cellular phone was subjected to forensic examination to prove she posted the alleged calls for recruitment.
“It’s very hard for her to say I didn’t do it. Why? Because we have her phone, we conducted forensic [examination] on her phone so we’re absolutely sure that she posted those messages,” Raymundo said.
Hamidon’s links to Maguid- whose group is being held responsible for the deadly September 2016 Davao City night market blast that left 14 people dead and several others injured- and Sidek “placed her on the radar” of the NBI-Counter Terrorism Division, Raymundo said.
Raymundo said there is a formal request from the government of India for assistance after several individuals, who confessed to having been recruited by Hamidon to join ISIS, were arrested there.