Foreigner with alleged ISIS links nabbed in Manila

Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 19 2018 09:00 AM | Updated as of Feb 19 2018 11:09 PM

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - A foreigner with alleged links to Islamic State jihadists was arrested in the Philippine capital, authorities said Monday.

Several homemade bombs, firearms, ammunition, an ISIS flag and documents that detailed an alleged plot to attack the country were recovered from the suspect during a raid in his Manila apartment, said Philippine National Police Director-General Ronald Dela Rosa.

Also arrested was his 32-year-old Filipino companion.

The suspect is believed to be involved in explosives manufacturing, police said.

Philippine authorities have been on guard against ISIS attacks.

In October, troops ended a 5-month-long siege of Marawi Ciy in the south by the Maute group, which had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. The military said the group had been recruiting members.

The suspect, an Egyptian carrying a Tunisian passport, slipped into the country in July 2016 using different passports and aliases such as Haytham Abdulhamid Yusof and John Rasheed Lassoned, said Dela Rosa.

Based on intelligence information from the military, the suspect was an ISIS official and former negotiator between ISIS leadership and local govt officials in Syria and Turkey.

He allegedly maintained access to ISIS members in the Middle East.

PNP Director Oscar Albayade, chief of the National Capital Region police, said the suspect had been recruiting followers since 2016.

"Hindi niya nire-reveal kung sino ang na-recruit nya. Ang style nya, kung saan may conflict doon sya pumapasok. Kagaya sa Mindanao, it's a conflict area madaling mag-recruit doon. Alam nila lalo sa Mindanao, could be a safe haven for them," he said.

"Dito sa Manila although hindi natin nilalahat, there are also enclaves dito na pwedeng magtago, or magtago sa kanila although hindi natin namo-monitor na may nagtatago sa kanila. We are not accusing our Muslim brothers here. There are sympathizers dito. Di naman natin matanggal yon," Albayalde added.

"Walang age limit dito, basta vulnerable ang nare-recruit nya, it doesn't matter kung anong edad."

Authorities also recovered maps in the suspect's possession,which Albayalde believes could be used in planning bomb attacks in the country.

"There are other indications na pwede, me nakuha sa kanyang drawings. Still unidentifiable, mapa-mapa, probably general areas."