Friday, July 14, 2017

Detained Philippine Maute family members not linked to terrorism: Security source

From Channel News Asia (Jul 13): Detained Philippine Maute family members not linked to terrorism: Security source

Seven Malaysia-bound Maute family members detained on Monday (Jul 10) on suspicion of having links with the Islamic State-inspired Maute group in the Philippines are not involved in terror activities, according to a regional security source.

The group was intercepted at Manila's international airport when they were about to board a flight to Kuala Lumpur.

According to a senior regional security source who spoke to Channel NewsAsia on Thursday (Jul 13), the seven passengers are distant relatives of the Maute militant group which has been battling Philippine government forces in the southern city of Marawi for weeks.

“The Mautes who were held at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino’s International Airport are distant relatives of the Maute Lawless Terror Group. They are not allowed to leave Manila,” said the security source following preliminary investigations.

“Their records have been checked and they have no derogatory (criminal) record. They also are not involved in the Marawi incident."

The group - four men and three women - have since been released from immigration custody. They have been handed over to the National Bureau of Investigation and the police for further investigation,” according to the source.

The men were identified as Alnizar Palawan Maute, Abdulcahar Rachman Maute, Yasser Dumaraya Maute and Ashary Palawan Maute.

"We presume they have relatives in Malaysia. This has yet to be verified," said the source, adding that they had all acquired their flight tickets before the Marawi siege.

The fighting in Marawi, led by brothers Omarkhayam Romato Maute and Abdullah Maute of the Maute group, began on May and has since killed more than 500 people, including soldiers, militants and civilians.

The Maute group, aided by the pro-Islamic State faction of the Abu Sayaf group led by Isnilon Hapilon, wants to establish an Islamic state in Marawi city.

A former Malaysian university lecturer, Mahmud Ahmad, is involved in the siege and is believed to be the right hand man of Abu Sayaf’s Hapilon. Malaysian intelligence sources say Mahmud is the brain behind Abu Sayaf’s pro-IS faction. He is believed to be alive and is said to have escaped from Marawi.

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