MANILA – A Filipino woman was arrested in Kuwait due to suspicion that she is a supporter of jihadist militant group ISIS.
The Filipina, who works as a household service worker, is currently imprisoned and is being investigated by Kuwaiti State Security officers. She was born in 1984 and entered Kuwait as a house maid in June.
Kuwait News Agency (KuNA), citing the Ministry of Interior (MoI), said the authorities monitored one of the email accounts to the Filipina. She was reportedly using a fake name and a nickname to avoid monitoring.
Kuwaiti authorities said their surveillance showed that the woman used the Telegram messaging application to contact her husband in Libya. They alleged that she had only been waiting for the change to conduct a suicide bombing attack in Kuwait.
Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the Philippines has yet to be officially notified of her arrest, but will ask the Kuwaiti officials for access to the detained Filipina to "determine her identity and establish the circumstances of her case."
"If warranted, our Embassy will extend the necessary consular and legal assistance," said Jose.
The Philippine Embassy is coordinating with the Kuwait Ministry of Interior and Ministry Foreign Affairs to arrange for an opportunity to speak with the arrested Filipina.
According to the Ministry of Interior, the Filipina only arrived in Kuwait in June of this year. She is said to have a Somali husband in Libya who is suspected to be a member of ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known by its Arabic acronym Daesh.
"Sumulat kami sa Ministry of Foreign Affairs at hiniling na kung sana ay malaman naming kung ano ang mga circumstances [ng kanyang pagka-aresto]—kung bakit siya naaresto, paano siya inaresto at ano ang kanyang personal record, para ma-verify namin sa Pilipinas iyong kanyang pagkatao (We have written to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and asked for information regarding the Filipina’s arrest—why and how she was arrested, and her personal record, so we can verify her identity with the Philippine government)," said Ambassador Renato Pedro Villa of the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait.
Villa added that the embassy hopes the Filipina's safety will be assured while she is in custody.
Filipinos in Kuwait have expressed concern at the woman's arrest.
"Talagang nakakabahala itong nangyaring balita na ito sa ating kapwa OFW. Sana ipanalangin natin na hindi ito totoo at mabilis na siya ay mapawalang-sala dahil magiging lalong mahigpit ang checking ng gobyerno [ng Kuwait] sa mga Pilipino (This is troubling news. We pray that accusations against her are not true, and that she is declared innocent. The government of Kuwait might also enforce more stringent checks on Filipinos)," said Ako-OFW Founding Chairman Dr. Chie Umandap.
Villa however reassured Filipinos in Kuwait that they should remain calm and go on with their work. He trusts that employers' high opinion of Filipinos will not change.
Kuwait is ramping up efforts against terrorism after a suicide bombing on a Shia mosque on June 26 last year killed 27 and wounded 227.
-- With a report by Maxxy Santiago, ABS-CBN News Kuwait