THE Quezon City Police District arrested a suspected financier of the Maute terror group in Novaliches Thursday.
QCPD Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar identified the suspect as Rasdy Malawani, or Rasdi Macabangkit, 42, a shopkeeper at the Salam Bazaar in the Novaliches Plaza Mall.
The store was believed owned by Ominta Romato “Farhana” Maute, the mother of brothers Abdullah and Omarkhayam, who led the extremist group in Marawi for five months from May 23.
Police found a .45 caliber pistol, a rocket-propelled grenade, and bank transaction receipts supposedly linking him to the Maute matriarch.
A case of illegal possession of weapons will be filed against the suspect, who was presented to the media Friday.
Malawani was the second suspected Maute financier arrested in a month, and the third in 60 days.
The Philippine National Police on Wednesday announced the arrest of Aminkisa Romato Macadato, the son of a former mayor in Lanao del Sur, in an operation in Valenzuela City last Oct. 7.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had also declared the arrest of another Maute financier, Abdul Patah alias “Kitong,” last Sept. 26.
Malawani supposedly collected money from shop owners in a Novaliches mall that he managed, and remitted the money to the Mautes.
National Capital Region Police Office chief Director Oscar Albayalde on Friday said the arrest showed that some legitimate businesses were being used to fund the terror activities of the Maute group.
Albayalde said the bazaar was identified as a source of financing of the terrorist group in Marawi City.
Malawani remitted some P300,000 monthly to Azesha Macabangkit-Maute alias Lily in Marawi, who turned out to be the wife of Madie Maute who was among the brains behind the Marawi siege.
Malawani started being the collector when Farhana was arrested in Barangay. Kormatan, Masiu, Lanao del Sur in June, Albayalde said.
On Thursday night, President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated a military warning that Islamic State sympathizers could launch “lone wolf” attacks in the Philippines as they have done in other parts of the world.
“Even I am worried in the sense that they might opt to do a lone wolf attack. They have tried a massive, violent activity and they were defeated,” Duterte said.
The military liberated Marawi City from IS-inspired terrorists on Oct. 23, killing three of their top leaders, Isnilon Hapilon, Omar Maute and their Malaysian financier Mahmud Ahmad in the country.
Military spokesperson Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla earlier said that the threats posed by the IS remain as its network is “increasingly becoming better.”
In a Palace news briefing, Padilla said that these attacks could be prevented if “every citizen will do their part.”
He also emphasized the role of the family in preventing lone wolf attacks from prospering.
“In the fight against terrorism, particularly, in the attempt to poison the minds of our young, the role of the family is very important. And the role of the family must be emphasized,” he said.
The IS or Daesh are known to use propaganda to recruit lone wolves, to retaliate against counter-terrorism measures implemented by states and security services.
Individuals without any clear, organic or hierarchical connection with a group or faction carry out the attacks unilaterally.
Experts say lone wolves represent an extremely difficult challenge for security and intelligence services, since they are relatively unpredictable, undetectable and effectively unstoppable.
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