2 Iraqis spotted near clash site
The two Iraqis, an intelligence source said, were spotted by agents monitoring terrorist activities in the area where an Indonesian jihadist and seven others were killed in a firefight with Marines on Nov. 27 on the outskirts of Palembang town in Sultan Kudarat. “They [2 Iraqis] were seen adjacent to Palembang town last November 23 but could not be located their present location,” said the source. The reported presence of the two Iraqis brings to 12 the number of suspected foreign terrorists in the country days before the bloody encounter with the AKP. The foreigners include three Syrians, spotted somewhere at the Cararao Complex in Lanao province, five Malaysians in Sulu and two Indonesians. Capt. Joan Petinglay, spokesperson of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said ground troops have launched massive search and destroy operations against the AKP, particularly its leader Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, who had a standing warrant for his arrest. But Petinglay described the AKP as a “criminal group” with a record of cattle rustling. “So far, we do not have evidence to say that they are linked to ISIS or that they are a terrorist group,” Petinglay said in a phone interview. On Thursday, eight men, including Indonesian jihadist Sucipto Ibrahim Ali, were killed in a clash with the military and police who were out to serve arrest warrants against Mohammad Jaafar Sabiwang Maguid, alias Commander Tokboy, the alleged leader of the AKP who was able to escape. National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia said Sucipto, a member of the Jema’ah Islamiyah, has links with the Mujahideen Indonesia Timur, a terrorist group that has direct ties with ISIS. Petinglay said after the four-hour gunfight, government troops were able to recover ISIS flags, assorted high-powered firearms, and several identification cards of individuals believed to have been recruited by the AKP. Petinglay, however, insisted that AKP still cannot be labeled a terrorist group even as she confirmed its recruitment activities.