MANILA (2nd UPDATE) — An Indonesian woman alleged to be a suicide bomber was arrested along with two other women in Jolo, Sulu, early Saturday morning, the military said.
The Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command said Joint Task Force Sulu and other local and national law enforcement agencies arrested the terror suspect, a 17-year-old, in Barangay San Raymundo in Jolo.
The suspect was apprehended along with two others: the 41-year-old wife of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Ben Tatoo, and 19-year-old wife of ASG member Jahid Jam.
They were arrested as operatives were serving a search warrant issued by the Regional Trial Court in Jolo inside a house believed to be owned by Tatoo in Barangay San Raymundo.
Among items seized from the suspects were a vest rigged with pipe bombs and other improvised explosive device (IED) components.
Brig. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of JTF Sulu, said the military has been pursuing foreign terrorist suicide bombers in the province since the twin bombings in Jolo town last Aug. 24.
At least 15 were killed while dozens others were wounded in the blasts.
The suspected suicide bomber was "first on our list since we have received intelligence reports that she is going to conduct suicide bombing after the death of her husband, Andi Baso, an Indonesian foreign terrorist who was reportedly neutralized during an encounter last August 29, 2020 with two Scout Ranger Battalions under 1102nd Brigade in Patikul, Sulu,” Gonzales said.
She is believed to be the daughter of the Indonesian couple behind the twin suicide bombing in Jolo Cathedral in January 27, 2019, where at least 20 people were killed.
The three suspects are now detained at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit of the Sulu Police Provincial Office.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines commended Gonzales and his team for the string of successes against local terrorists in the area.
The AFP also thanked concerned citizens and local government officials for cooperating with the military.
"He (AFP chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay) expresses the AFP’s gratitude to the residents and to local government executives in the municipalities of Jolo, Patikul, Indanan and others who provided critical support and vital information that led to these successful operations," AFP Spokesperson Major General Edgard Arevalo said in a statement.
"This only proves that if the local leaders and the populace will cooperate with the AFP and other agencies of government, we will be as one nation defeat this terrorist menace to society. Our kababayans should continue to be vigilant and report any suspicious presence of individuals or developments in their respective localities," he added.
The Bureau of Immigration said Sunday it would file a deportation case against the suspected suicide bomber for "being an illegal entrant, and for undesirability, apart from the criminal charges that she faces."
The Indonesian national will have to face the criminal charges hurled against her before being deported, the bureau said.