Interior Secretary Eduardo Año has said some persons are being monitored in connection with the reported plan of the Middle East-based Hamas militant group to operate in the Philippines.
“Those people mentioned in the report are now under surveillance and monitoring,” he said, referring to a report submitted to him by the Philippine National Police.
At the same time, the Israel Embassy in Manila is monitoring developments in the Philippines following the reported plan to mount an attack against Israeli nationals.
“We appreciate the efficient response of the Philippine police and their efforts to make sure that the Israelis are well-protected. We are closely monitoring this,” the Embassy said Thursday.
The statement came following a report that Hamas has denied the supposed plot.
But Año did not say how many individuals are being monitored for supposedly being involved in the plot.
“The PNP Intelligence Group is into this, they’re monitoring the movement of these Filipinos who are reportedly (involved),” said Año, adding that the effort has been coordinated with the Anti-Terrorism Council.
While he believes that the plot was already preempted, the DILG chief said intelligence personnel continue to monitor and gather relevant information on the matter.
“There are no indicators that they are really on the verge of implementing it (plan to establish foothold). It’s still information that is being acted upon by the intelligence community,” the DILG chief added.
On Tuesday, the PNP Intelligence Group said it has uncovered a plan to recruit Filipinos who will be “utilized to kill Jews present in the country, conduct rallies at the Israeli embassy and spread (of) video propaganda against Israel.”
The information was uncovered through information provided by a local contact of Hamas who was allegedly approached by Hamas-Foreign Liaison Section head Fares Al Shikli, who is based in Turkey, as early as 2016.
The “local contact” reportedly made several trips to Malaysia from 2016 to 2018 to discuss the possibility of launching attacks in the Philippines in exchange for financial assistance.
This is not the first time Hamas tried to establish a presence in the country.
In January 2018, police operatives arrested Iraqi national Taha Mohammed Ahmed al-Jabouri in Pampanga.
The 64-year-old Al-Jabouri, who was later deported by the Bureau of Immigration to Turkey, was described by the police as a “chemist with knowledge on explosives” and “closely affiliated” with Hamas.