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IS-linked group leader killed; 3 pals nabbed

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SECURITY forces stormed a beach resort in Sarangani province at dawn Thursday, killing a terrorist leader with ties to the Islamic State and capturing three of his companions.

Killed in the attack was Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, the commander of the Ansar Al-Khilafa Philippines, a local group with links to ISIS.

Chief Supt. Cedric Train said Maguid was killed when agents of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) and police stormed the Angel Beach Resort in Kiamba town at about 12:10 a.m.

Maguid was said to be a notorious kidnapper and a bomb expert. The terrorist group was named after its founder, Ansar Khilafa, formed in Sarangani province.

LONG ARM OF THE LAW. Mohammad Jaafar Maguid (in an undated picture inset circulated by security authorities), leader of a Daesh-linked group, has been killed and three of his followers —Matahata Dialawe Arboleda, Ismael Sahak, and Morhaban Veloso—at an undisclosed beach resort in Mindanao Thursday morning. Mark Navales and AFP

“Tokboy is a notorious bandit leader with affiliation to ISIS. He and his group have escaped several government operations to neutralize them,” Train said, referring to Maguid by his alias.

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“They fly the ISIS flag in their camps. They want to be recognized by the ISIS,” Train added, referring to the Islamic State group by one of its acronyms.

Government agents seized two M16 rifles, two hand grenades, eight magazines, short magazines, bandoleers, various ammunition and documents.

Maguid was wanted for murder, arson, robbery, extortion and attacks on military detachments in Mindanao.

Supt. Romeo Galgo, spokesman for the police regional office, said Maguid carried a P300,000 bounty.

Sources said the AKP had been disbanded last year for still unknown reasons. Its members later joined the newly formed Daulah Islamiya or Islamic State of Lanao. Included in its composition were the Alkhobar terror group and the Maute brothers, tagged as the most prominent ISIS unit in Mindanao, outside of the Abu Sayyaf group of Isnilon Hapilon.

Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno warned in a Palace press briefing that Maguid’s slaying could bring violent repercussions.

“They might retaliate so we have to double our preparations,” Sueno said, citing the Black Nazarene procession next week as a possible target.

The PNP earlier tagged the AKP as the terror group behind the foiled bomb attack on the US Embassy in Manila on Nov. 28.

Maguid, 32, appeared in a video circulated on social media networks last year with the leaders of other local militant groups pledging allegiance to ISIS.

The military killed eight Ansarul Khilafa members in a clash in November 2015 at Maguid’s Mindanao hometown of Palimbang.

Ansarul Khilafa was behind an attack that left two civilians dead in Mindanao in 2008 as well as a series of robberies and other crimes, according to Sidney Jones, director of the Indonesia-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict.

Maguid was arrested in 2009 but escaped eight months later, Jones said in a research paper published in October last year.

Train said the authorities had also been looking into Ansarul Khilafa’s role in a bombing in Davao, Mindanao’s largest city in September last year that killed 15 people and injured dozens of others.

Authorities placed General Santos City and the neighboring areas under heightened alert following the killing of Maguid early Thursday.

Sr. Supt. Leonardo Suan, deputy regional director for operations, said they are monitoring the movements of the remaining members of the Ansar Al-Khilafah Philippines group, which had been tagged as behind a string of terror attacks in the area since 2008.

“We’re closely monitoring if a new leader of the group will emerge,” Suan said in a press conference at the PRO-12 headquarters in Barangay Tambler.

Officials presented Maguid’s three companions, one of whom is a female, who were arrested during the operation.

The three were identified as Matahata Dialawe Arboleda, Ismael Sahak alias Mael, and Morhaban Veloso alias Bugoy.

Sr. Supt. Joseph Semillano, Sarangani police director, said their intelligence operatives initially received information on Wednesday night that Maguid was sighted at the Angel Beach Resort.

He said they immediately informed the other units about the report and embarked on an operation.

“At 10 minutes after midnight, we were able to neutralize Tokboy,” Semillano said.

The police official said Maguid’s group arrived at the resort Wednesday night aboard a red Toyota Wigo sedan with temporary license plate 12190176 and rented a cottage. With John Paolo Bencito, AFP, PNA

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