Marwan’s calls tapped

General: Wife as ‘tracer’ led to his precise location

SUSPENDED national police chief Alan Purisima and US troops used Marwan’s wife as a “tracer” to pinpoint the precise location of the world’s most wanted terrorist, a police general privy to the ongoing probe of the Mamasapano massacre said Sunday.

The general identified Zulkifli bin Hir’s wife as Joromee Dongon, the widow of Abu Sayyaf founder Khadaffy Janjalani, who was killed in 2006.

“Marwan, a bomb expert from Malaysia and a leader of Jemaah Islamiya, who arrived in the country in 2002, was very fond of his Filipina wife because they became friends first for a long time when Janjalani was still alive,” said the general, who requested anonymity.

He said since 2005, Purisima and his men had been tracking Marwan’s movement.

“PNP chief Purisima capitalized on Marwan’s fondness of his wife and had her calls tapped. Once tapped, the elite Special Action Force (SAF) intelligence group was able to trace Marwan’s incoming and outgoing calls through the nearest local cellular cite,” the source said.

“They then recorded the conversation through a... satellite that was provided by the CIA. The elite SAF team was able to box in the exact location of Marwan,” the source told the Manila Standard.

“Drones and foot soldiers had been deployed and satellite images had been produced after several weeks of stakeout and surveillance,” the source added.

“All this intelligence information gathered was made available by Purisima to the President,” the source said.

Purisima insisted they could no longer wait for a more opportune time than Jan. 25, as phone calls between Marwan and his wife were becoming less frequent, the source said.

“The less frequent calls had Purisima worried that something big was afoot considering that Pope Francis was to arrive for a five-day visit. The security for the Pope was intensified while the operational plans to get Marwan were being mapped out,” the source said.

“Therefore, even if PNP chief Purisima was still under suspension, the President had no choice but to let him in on the top secret mission since he was the one in possession of the intel and the Americans, despite their significant contribution, could not actively and openly participate anyway,” the source said.

“Purisima made it a point to make the President agree that he should be on top of the operations, albeit incognito, and all the rest, including Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director Gerardo Espina should be kept out of the loop,” the source said.

The source said the President found a way to justify Purisima’s involvement by claiming that Purisima, despite his suspension due to graft and corruption charges, was still part of the chain of command since Espina was made only an OIC and not “acting PNP chief.”

“The President, who was aware of the repercussions of the decisions to make Purisima handle the covert operations, made it a point not to allow Espina to take over the job description of the PNP chief,” the source said.

“As OIC, Espina remains out of the chain of command and Purisima remains the de facto PNP chief. The President made him so,” the police general said.

At least 30 elite SAF troopers were designated as the strike or assault force, the source said.

Another group of 37 SAF commandos was deployed as a “blocking force” to allow the safe retreat of the assault force.

“The strike force got Marwan and there was debate whether or not to bring the terrorist’s body. They decided to just cut off Marwan’s finger for DNA testing. Eight of the 30 members of the assault team were killed by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters while 36 of the

37 members of the blocking force were massacred by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. There was a lone survivor,” the police general said.

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