3rd suspect in Manila bomb try nabbed through social media

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 07 2016 11:58 AM | Updated as of Dec 07 2016 01:22 PM

Suspect an x-ray technician in Bulacan

MANILA - A third suspect in the botched bomb attack near the US Embassy last week was arrested through clues from his online activity, police confirmed Wednesday.

Manila Police District chief Senior Superintendent Joel Coronel said police confirmed intelligence information that suspect Mohammad Umao-as was hiding in Bulacan province by checking his Facebook account.

"Part of the investigation we made is checking social media. We know that they are using Facebook and other platforms to disseminate their information. That is why we are very fortunate that he is registered as a user so that is why we can verify his status," Coronel said.

Humao-as, an x-ray technician, was nabbed Saturday when he returned to a hospital in Santa Ana, Bulacan town to collect his things so he could flee to a more distant province.

Before this, Humao-as' name had also cropped up among persons of interest with alleged links to the Ansar Al Khalifa, an alliance of terror organizations including the Maute terror group, Coronel said.

Authorities earlier linked Maute terrorists to the deadly blast in Davao City last October 28, as well as the foiled bombing in Roxas Boulevard last November 28.

Coronel said Humao-as' Facebook account shows he has ties to individuals with alleged terror links in southern Mindanao.

A hand grenade and caliber. 45 firearm were recovered from the suspect.

Special Action Force commandos patrol after an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was found near the US Embassy in Manila, November 28, 2016. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

CCTV CLIPS FROM LUNETA

National Capital Region Police Office Chief Supt. Oscar Albayalde said Humao-as and two cohorts initially wanted to mount their terror attack in Luneta Park and not Roxas Boulevard.

CCTV footage shows Humao-as' group conducting surveillance operation at the park on the night of November 27, before proceeding to the direction of Roxas Boulevard, where the bomb was recovered the next day inside a trash bin.

Two of Humao-as' cohorts were arrested in Bulacan last week, but two other suspects remain at large, possibly in Metro Manila or adjacent provinces, Albayalde said.

One suspect, Rashid Kilala, has confessed about their terror operations, police said. Albayalde said authorities are conducting follow-up operations based on the document submitted by Kilala.

'BALIK ISLAM'

Albayalde also mentioned that the suspects were radicalized when they converted to Islam some four years ago.

"Itong mga ito, balik-Islam itong mga ito. Before kasing maging convert ka, may mga indoctrination iyan, and then they'll brainwash you. Para kang lumilipat from one religion to another. You have to believe what their religion says," he explained.

The botched Manila bombing was the first mission entrusted to Kilala and Humao-as' cell, he said.

Police remain on full alert, with intensified intelligence gathering and checkpoint operations, in a bid to stop terror attacks.

Albayalde reminded the public anew to report any suspicious person or activity to the police.