TWO Filipino terrorists who were involved in a series of kidnappings in Malaysia were recently arrested by Malaysian authorities, a military official said Sunday.
The two terrorists, one of whom was the trusted lieutenant of Basilan Abu Sayyaf chieftain Furuji Indama, were in the company of six wanted Malaysian nationals when they were arrested for their alleged involvement in terrorist activities in Malaysia.
Col. Edgard Arevalo, head of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office said the two Filipinos were arrested by the Royal Malaysian Police in Taman Desa Baiduri, Cheras in Kuala Lumpur. They were identified as Hajar Abdul Mubin, alias Mheraiz and Abrahan Bin Ebong.
Mubin is the right-hand man of Abu Sayyaf Group sub-leader Furuji Indama while the affiliation of the other Filipino terrorist is still being ascertained by Malaysian authorities.
“The arrest and detention of these individuals is a significant development in the government’s security cooperation with Malaysia and other neighboring countries in Asia to curb terrorism including attempts to recruit new members or entice individuals to support terrorism or violent extremism,” Arevalo said.
The Palace, meanwhile, said it would soon get Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, reportedly the emir of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia.
“We will get Isnilon Hapilon,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
Abella’s statement came amid reports that Hapilon had been seen in Basilan, hundreds of kilometers away from the war-torn Marawi City.
“We treat numerous reports saying that Isnilon Hapilon has left Marawi and has been seen openly in Basilan as raw information requiring further validation by the military and various security agencies of government,” Abella said.
“Granting [the report on] Isnilon Hapilon’s whereabouts in Basilan is true, it would mean that he chose to abandon his men as the battle of Marawi nears its final stretch,” he added.
But recent military assessments indicate that Hapilon is still in Marawi, he said.
The military’s operation against Hapilon last May sparked the Maute group’s attack in Marawi City, which prompted President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
Early in August, the military said Hapilon and Maute brothers Omar and Abdullah were still in Marawi City.
AFP public affairs chief Col. Edgard Arevalo had said that aside from freeing Marawi City from local terrorists, the troops’ main objective is to neutralize Hapilon and the Maute brothers.
Fighting in Marawi City between the local terrorists and government troops has stretched to more than 100 days.
The initial 60-day martial law implementation in Mindanao had been extended until December. With Bill Casas