THE military said Tuesday it was trying to verify reports that three suspected Filipino jihadists were among 44 people arrested in Saudi Arabia in a weeklong anti-terrorism operation last December.
“We’re now coordinating with the DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs]... to identify the reported three Filipinos. As of now, we’ve no details yet,” Colonel Restituto Padilla, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said.
Arab News reported that Saudi security forces launched a series of special operations in December that resulted in the arrest of 44 suspects, “including three Filipinos, five Syrians, four Yemenis, a Sudanese and 31 Saudis.”
“The largest number of arrests were made on the first day of the operation, with 10 Saudis and one Yemeni being arrested. Nine suspects, including three Syrians were arrested the following day,” it said.
“Ten suspects were rounded up on the fifth day of the operation, including seven Saudis, a Yemeni, a Sudanese and a Syrian,” it added.
Earlier, reports said that Islamic terrorists brandishing the flags of terrorists in Iraq and Syria had been recruiting and training recruits in Mindanao.
Videos and photographs of the alleged training were posted on the Internet.
The military and the Palace, however, have denied the presence of terrorist training camps in Mindanao.
Padilla dismissed the videos and photographs as part of the terrorists’ recruitment propaganda.
A high-ranking military intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the three Filipinos arrested were not directly recruited from the Philippines, but had probably been in Saudi Arabia for some time.
Provincial police, meanwhile, said an alleged member of the Abu Sayyaf Group involved in several kidnappings and the ambush against a vice mayor in December was arrested Monday in Patikul, Sulu.
The police identified the suspect as Jummi Jumala, who was now temporarily detained at the provincial police office.
The Patikul police said they received information regarding the presence of Jumala, and asked for help from the Alpha Company of the Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion.
Sulu Task Group commander Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado cleared the request for support and joined the arresting team.
Arrojado said Jumala is a “known ASG member” with pending criminal cases filed in court.
Jumala was also being sought for the ambush of Vice Mayor Jun Tarsum and series of killings in Jolo and Patikul.
Jumala was also involved in several kidnapping operations of the ASG, the police said.
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