POLICE are in pursuit of two more jihadists involved in the foiled bombing of the US Embassy, after agents arrested three suspects, multiple sources told the Manila Standard Tuesday.
“We won’t stop until we find and arrest them dead or alive,” a police intelligence operative involved in the manhunt said on condition of anonymity.
“We believe these two jihadists have with them broader knowledge or information about plans of terrorism here in Metro Manila,” the source added.
On Wednesday, Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa is expected to present before the media a third suspect who was arrested Saturday in Bulacan.
The suspect was earlier identified by Manila Standard sources as Mohammad Jomao-as, a returning convert to Islam.
Before his arrest, Rayson Kilala Sandal alias Rashid and Jiaher Guinar were arrested in two separate operations in Caloocan City and Bulacan.
Rashid is said to be a practicing Imam, a religious leader, but was radicalized by the principles of terrorism.
Dela Rosa said all the suspects have links with the Maute group based in Butig, Lanao del Sur.
On Tuesday, security forces raided five houses of Farhana Maute, mother of the leaders of the terrorist Maute group. A policeman was injured when he set off a bomb by stepping on a trip wire inside the compound, ABS-CBN reported.
Maj. Filemon Tan, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, said the raid took place at 1:30 a.m., and led to the recovery of a firearm and several explosive materials.
He said the raiding team was composed of members ofthe Regional Public Safety Battalion and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group supported by the 65th Infantry Battalion under the Joint Task Force ZamPeLan.
He said the team served the search warrant against Farhana.
Tan reported a shootout, but a TV report from ABS-CBN showed vootage of the raid as it happened inside the Maute matriarch’s compound in Marawi.
“A policeman from the raiding team was wounded after stepping on a trip wire inside the compound,” the TV report said without mentioning any shootout.
The network said “water and power bills bearing Farhana’s name” were found during the raid.
The CIDG said Farhana might have been financing the operations of her sons and that her houses served as safe houses of the terrorists.
The CIDG added that Farhana is a former government contractor and was able to send her sons to study in the Middle East where they were radicalized.
On Monday, a member of the 1st Scout Ranger Company was killed when his team encountered about 20 members of the Maute group, Tan said.
“Troops were able to recover an RPG, several RPG ammunition, and a steel chainsaw,” Tan said.
Recently, the military dislodged Maute group members who had occupied an abandoned municipal hall in Butig town.
To date, Tan said a total of 63 terrorists have been killed and 17 have been wounded. Troops suffered one killed and 38 wounded.
“The military continues to intensify the conduct of focused military operations to neutralize members of the Matue group,” he said.