From Malaya Business Insight (Jun 8): Maute group member, wife nabbed in CDO
COMBINED security forces on Wednesday arrested a suspected member of the Daesh-inspired Maute group and his wife who reportedly planned to bomb the Feast of the Black Nazarene procession in Quiapo, Manila last January.
Reports reaching PNP chief Oscar Albayalde said Eyadzhemar Abdusalam, 26, alias Medical Jihad, and his wife, Catherine Dianne Palmitos, alias Maryam Aisha, were nabbed in Cagayan de Oro City. They are based in Gen. Santos City.
Seized from them were a fragmentation grenade and a loaded caliber.45 pistol with an extra magazine inside a backpack.
The two were reportedly among the terrorists who supported the Maute group that laid siege in Marawi City in May last year that prompted President Duterte to cut short his trip to Russia and declare martial law in Mindanao.
Intelligence information revealed that Adbusalam and his wife left Zamboanga City for Davao City by plane and went to Cagayan de Oro City last Tuesday. They were believed to be headed to Lanao del Sur to meet with other remaining members of the Maute group to carry out bombing operations in Cagayan de Oro City.
“The bombing is part of the group’s long-standing plan to carry out an attack during Ramadan,” the report said.
Reports said Abdusalam is a graduate of BS Nursing at Notre Dame of Dadiangas University in Gen. Santos City. He is registered nurse and a licensed emergency medical technician. He also served as president of the Muslim Students’ Organization in NDDU during his college days.
“He came under the radar of the intelligence community during the Marawi siege when he was monitored sending medical supplies for the beleaguered Maute-ISIS group. At the time, he was also planning to travel to Syria to join ISIS,” the report added.
Reports said Abdusalam plotted to carry out bomb attacks during the Black Nzarene procession in Quiapo last January but tight security measures got in the way. He also reportedly considered similar attacks in other Catholic festivities in Zamboanga City.
He was also monitored as soliciting funds for the manufacture of improvised explosive devices for his planned bombings and sent money to the widows and orphans of the local Daesh/ISIS terrorists.
“He even instigated some foreigners to carry out lone wolf attacks in their respective countries, to include an individual in UK who was arrested in May 2018 by British authorities for planning to carry out an attack in London,” the report said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana described as “unfair” a study by the Global Peace Index 2018 that showed the Philippines is the second least peaceful country in Asia, only better than North Korea.
Lorenzana questioned the parameters used by the group, which based its conclusion on the lingering threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the government’s bloody war on illegal drugs.
“I cannot believe that because a lot of people can go around very peacefully. I think they are using some parameters that are not present in the Philippines,” Lorenzana said.
“Just because there is war on drugs, it’s least peaceful? In fact, a lot of people are saying that their lives are more peaceful now because of the war on drugs,” the defense chief added.
On the ISIS threat, Lorenzana said security agencies continue to receive reports about recruitment. He added that security officials are not dismissing a possible repeat of the Marawi City siege last year but said this will take several years.
“The threat of ISIS, the threat and actual fighting are two different things
The threat of ISIS is only there because some remnants of the Maute are still there and apparently they are, according to rumors, they are recruiting but we cannot confirm that they are recruiting,” said Lorenzana.
The Maute Group siege of Marawi City May last year left 974 terrorists, 168 soldiers and policemen, and 47 civilians dead.