devices with related materials and ‘shahada’ banners similar to those used
by ISIS at a village in Mohammad Ajul town, Basilan in Mindanao on May
16, 2015 after state troops raided the bomb factory on May 14. Three Muslim
militants and a soldier were killed on May 14 when the troops raided a
bomb factory of an Al-Qaeda-linked group, a military official said. AFP
GOVERNMENT forces in Mindanao said Saturday they were hunting a suspected Malaysian bomb-maker who might be helping local Al-Qaeda-linked extremists.
The suspect, identified as Mohammad Najib, is believed to have fled after troops overran one of their bomb-making camps in Basilan on Thursday, said Col. Joselito Rolando Bautista, Basilan’s military commander.
Three militants and one soldier were killed when soldiers overran the camp of the Abu Sayyaf group, an armed band founded in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network.
“Mohammad Najib has been helping Ustadz Abbas Alam, the Abu Sayyaf leader in the area in making bombs and recruiting young people,” Bautista told reporters.
Last week, acting National Police Chief Leonardo Espina said the authorities were now training their guns on Malaysian bomb maker Amin Baco after the death of terrorists Zulkifli bin Hir of Malaysia and Basit Usman.
Basilan Mayor Jain Pawaki said residents had also told him that a Malaysian had been assisting the Abu Sayyaf especially in bomb-making.
Bautista and Pawaki made their remarks while escorting reporters to the captured Abu Sayyaf outpost and showed off captured transceiver radio sets, nails, ammonium nitrate, rolls of wire, electrical components and iron pipes rigged with explosives.
They also showed several black flags that are similar to the ones used by the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
“The recovery is a big blow to the operation of the Abu Sayyaf and their plots to stage bombings were prevented,” Bautista said.
The Abu Sayyaf gained international notoriety for the worst militant attacks in Philippine history including bombings and kidnapping Christians and foreigners for ransom.
Their attacks include the 2004 firebombing of a ferry off Manila Bay that killed more than 100 people.
Despite receiving training assistance from the United States, the Philippines has struggled to contain the Abu Sayyaf, whose leader last year pledged allegiance to the Islamic State movement.