Romance in the time of ISIS: How terror suspects use lovers as 'front'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 20 2018 08:34 AM | Updated as of Feb 20 2018 09:27 AM

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Foreign nationals who recruit pro-Islamic State extremists in the country typically use their lovers as cover for illegal activities, police said Tuesday after a suspected terror leader and his girlfriend were arrested in Manila. 

Director Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Metro Manila police, cited the case of an Egyptian national who was arrested last week in a rented apartment that yielded homemade bombs, firearms, an ISIS flag and documents detailing a planned bomb attack. 

"Ang front niya, nag-girlfriend siya ng Filipina para makatagal [sa Pilipinas]," Albayalde told radio DZMM. 

"Iyan po talaga usually ang ginagawa ng mga iyan para i-cover ang kanilang pagsti-stay dito sa Pilipinas o kahit sa ibang bansa," he added. 

(His front was getting a Filipina girlfriend so he can stay here longer. That is the usual practice of ISIS militants so they can stay in the Philippines or even other countries.) 

Egyptian national Fehmi Lassoued is presented to members of the media after being arrested allegedly in possession of assorted explosives and bomb-making paraphernalia during a press conference at the police general headquarters in Quezon City, Monday. Dondi Tawatao, Reuters

Albayalde said the foreigner intended to recruit ISIS fighters from depressed areas in Mindanao. Authorities are verifying if the foreigner was involved in the 5-month siege of Marawi City by ISIS sympathizers last year.

The foreigner had denied the police allegations. He said he had fled Syria as ISIS militants sought to establish a foothold there. 

He is facing raps for illegal possession of firearms at explosives.

DZMM, 20 February 2018