Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Marawi terrorists raped 15-year-old hostage in front of mother

From Rappler (Oct 19): Marawi terrorists raped 15-year-old hostage in front of mother

Another female hostage fears the terrorists killed her husband because he worked for the government, according to a documentary of the government

BATTLE AREA. Local terrorist groups in Marawi used hostages as human shield. Rappler photo

BATTLE AREA. Local terrorist groups in Marawi used hostages as human shield. Rappler photo

 The Maute Group made a mother watch her 15-year-old daughter being raped inside the battle area, according to a government documentary.

The mother and daughter were among the hostages taken by the local terrorist group that sought to carve their own territory in the city. The women were separated from the men, who were tasked with various jobs to help the terrorists. (READ: The life of a Maute hostage in Marawi)

Her daughter got pregnant but suffered a miscarriage, the weeping mother narrated. The mother was not identifed in the video and her face was blurred to protect her and her daughter's identity.
"Sabi niya, 'Bakit ganito nangyari sa akin, Mama?'" the mother recalled her daughter asking her. (She asked, "Why did this happen to me, Mama?")

She forbade her daughter from having a boyfriend so she could focus on her studies.

"Kaya nandito kami kasi mag-aral siya sa pilot (public) school. Nandito kami kasi enrolment," she said. (We're here because she was going to study at the public school. It was enrollment period.)

"Ito pa nangyari. Ginahasa nila anak ko (And this is what happened to us. They raped my child)," she said.

They were among 17 hostages recently rescued in Marawi City after troops killed the top leaders of the siege – Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute past midnight on October 16.

Another female hostage spoke of how her husband suddenly disappeared. She fears they've killed him only because they found out that he worked for the government.

"Bawal daw magtrabaho sa gobyerno, sabi nila... Nalaman nila na diyan sila nag-work sa construction. Pinatay nila. Wala na sila nagbalik," she said.

(They say it is wrong to work for the government. They found out that he was among those involved in construction work. They killed them. They did not return anymore.)

It is unclear if her husband was among the supposed hostages that the terrorists executed early on in the war.

In the video, Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año promised they will look for her husband's remains.

Hapilon’s kin, 2 more Abu Sayyaf members surrender in Basilan

From Rappler (Oct 19): Hapilon’s kin, 2 more Abu Sayyaf members surrender in Basilan

For this year, a total of 124 Abu Sayyaf members have surrendered to government forces   


BASILAN, Philippines – A relative of slain terrorist leader Isnilon Hapilon and two members of the Abu Sayyaf Group under top leaders Furuji Indama and Nurhasan Jamir surrendered as combat operations are being intensified in Basilan.

Ben Salina Sapilin, a.k.a. Ben, a cousin of Hapilon, and two other Abu Sayyaf members identified as Rami Ben Sapilin and Muhamadendeng, yielded to the troops in Barangay Macalang, Albarka, Basilan last Tuesday, October 17.

Also surrendered by the group of Sapilin were an M16 A1 rifle, a Caliber .30 M1 Garand rifle, and an M79 rifle.

Sapili, a.k.a. Attik, is listed in the records of the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a follower of Nurhasan Jamiri, while Muhamadendeng, a.k.a. Aburayhad, is a follower of Furudji Indama.

The surrender was facilitated by operating troops of the 74th Infantry Battalion led by 1st Lieutenant Ali Kagui under the supervision of Lieutenant Colonel Jonas Templo, according to Colonel Juvymax Uy, commander of the Joint Task Force Basilan.

“Sapili and his companions are currently in the custody of the 74IB for the debriefing to be facilitated by our intelligence units,” Uy said.

For this year, a total of 124 Abu Sayyaf members have surrendered to government forces. Of this, 68 yielded in Basilan, 33 in Sulu, 21 in Tawi-Tawi, and two in Zamboanga City.

“Our Joint Task Forces will continue to sustain their security operations to bring about the eventual defeat of the Abu Sayyaf operating in the ZamBaSulTa area,” said Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

“With the neutralization of the Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, we believe more of the bandits will surrender and return to the folds of law in the coming days.”

More than a dozen terrorists killed in Marawi

From Rappler (Oct 19): More than a dozen terrorists killed in Marawi

(UPDATED) At least 27 terrorists have been killed thus far in heavy fighting. Colonel Brawner says that because they 'don't have all the cadavers yet', they could not confirm if Malaysian militant Dr Mahmud is among them.

ASSAULT. The military stages another assault in Marawi. Rappler photo

ASSAULT. The military stages another assault in Marawi. Rappler photo

(UPDATED) – More than a dozen more terrorists were killed in Marawi City in latest military operations as troops continued their assault to flush out what they call "stragglers" inside the battle area.

Colonel Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of Task Group Ranao, said Thursday, October 19, 13 terrorists were killed in Wednesday night's operations.

A Rappler source on the ground said up to 27 fighters have been killed in heavy fighting that started Wednesday, October 18. 14 more bodies were reported retrieved Thursday, October 19.

The military is checking if Malaysia's top militant Dr Mahmud Ahmad was among the fighters troops killed.

Brawner said they could not yet confirm the death of Mahmud as the information came from two hostages rescued Wednesday night. They said Mahmud "could have been killed," according to Brawner. "But in the absence of bodies and SOCO [Scene of the Crime Operatives] report, the military could not say if Mahmud is really killed."

He added that some of the terrorists killed were hit by sniper fires but their bodies have not yet been retrieved. "We don't have all the cadavers yet, so no confirmation on Dr Mahmud," Brawner said.

Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año, however said, the AFP is "increasingly becoming confident that he was among those who have been killed during yesterday's (Wednesday's) operations."

Entrenched resistance
"Enemy resistance is still organized and well entrenched," Brawner also said. Improvised explosive devices or IEDs and unexploded ordnance in the military battle area still number in the thousands, Brawner said, and the military does not have a timeframe for clearing all of them.

Terrorists, who are willing to die, have been "using hostages as human shields." The military is unsure who their leader is.

Año said that early Thursday they were able to rescue a mother and her teenaged daughter. Both are safe and out of danger, even as about 20 more hostages remain in the area.

About 6 soldiers were wounded in the operation but they are safe too, suffering only superficial wounds.

Malacañang, for its part, said it is still "verifying reports" of Mahmud's death and can give "no official confirmation" until the military identifies the terrorist leader's body.

TOP MALAYSIAN TERRORIST. Mahmud Ahmad reportedly channeled at least P30 million ($600,000) to finance the attack in Marawi City, Philippines.

Mahmud is reportedly among the top financiers of the attack. He supposedly channeled at least P30 million ($600,000) to finance the attack in Marawi City, the military said.

Mahmud survived the assault on Monday, October 16, that killed the top leaders behind the siege. Abu Sayyaf subleader Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute of the family-led Maute Group were shot by government snipers as troops assaulted enemy position to rescue remaining hostages. (READ: The life of a Maute hostage in Marawi)

These terrorist leaders pledged allegiance to international terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS).

President Rodrigo declared the "liberation" of Marawi from "terrorist influence" on Tuesday. Año said, "Troop morale remains very high and motivation to finish the fight is at its highest."

Be more vigilant

From the Mindanao Times (Oct 18): Be more vigilant

AUTHORITIES in the region have intensified watch against terrorists by boosting border control operations following the death of top extremists Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute on Monday in Marawi City.
The Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Regional Office (PRO) XI directed its subordinate units to heighten operations to prevent atrocities by different terror groups.

In a memorandum issued yesterday, the PRO also directed provincial and city offices to be “more vigilant and enhance coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) counterparts through the Joint Peace Security Coordinating Council (JPSCC) mechanism.”

Sr. Supt. Alexander Tagum, director of Davao City Police Office (DCPO), said they maintained to place the city under terror alert level three, which has been effective since the declaration of Martial Law on May 23 for the entire Mindanao.

This means, Tagum said, that the terror threat level is still high.

Under alert level three, Tagum told the TIMES in a text message that there exists “imminent threat of terrorist and communist attack, on progress attack of terrorists and communist rebels and combat operations or hot operations on these threats.”

The AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) also directed its subordinate units to raise the alert level to prevent retaliation from the rebel groups after the death of the top extremists.

The EastMincom is also strengthening the borders in Balut Island in the southern tip of the region in Sarangani town, Davao Occidental and Cape San Agustin in the western tip of the region in Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental to ensure that sympathizers would not pass through the area in Celebes Sea.

EastMincom spokesperson Maj. Ezra Balagtey, in an interview yesterday at Naval Station Felix Apolinario in Camp Panacan, said they received directive to intensify the security operations in the region.

“Recently there was a signing of agreement on the strengthening of the borders,” he said.

An Inter-Agency Border Security Coordinating Council in Region XI was operationalized after a memorandum of understanding was signed by member agencies on Sept. 15 at Naval Station Felix Apolinario.

Balagtey said they are also doing advocacy awareness so they can monitor any possible entry of terrorists.

Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Eastmincom commander, said in a statement that they needed to strengthen border security as a pro-active measure to prevent the terrorists from using it as their mobility corridor.

Guerrero urged for the continuous support from the different stakeholders to prevent terrorism attack in the region.

“We recognize the importance of the support coming from the populace. We therefore ask everyone to be vigilant and to report to the authorities any suspicious activities in their respective communities,” Guerrero said.

Martial Law stays

Despite the fall of the top extremist leader, the Department of National Defense (DND) said Martial Law will remain in effect in Mindanao

“No, we are not talking about lifting Martial Law yet, tingnan pa natin, we are only looking in the immediate aftermath of the killing of these two leaders, we may, sabi ko nga we may be lifting, I mean announcing the cessation of hostilities within this week and then after that we will find out,” Lorenzana told reporters during a press conference as reported by the Philippine News Agency.

President Rodrigo Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216 on May 23 declaring Martial Law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao. This was a result of the attack of the Maute group in Marawi City, which is still ongoing and is subject to military operations.

The DND chief said they had yet to assess the situation in order for them to determine whether they can recommend the lifting of Martial Law to President Duterte.

“We will find out, we will assess the entire Mindanao if there is a need to recommend to the President the lifting of Martial Law,” he noted.

When asked on the possible retaliation of Maute remnants, Lorenzana said “We are prepared, our troops are prepared, alam naman natin that it is the modus operandi of the enemy to make, to create diversion dito, diversion dyan, retaliation din, so our troops are prepared.”

As of Monday, the number of slain Maute terrorists was placed at 822. The government suffered 162 fatalities.

Military to Marawi bakwits: “Please be patient”

From MindaNews (Oct 18): Military to Marawi bakwits: “Please be patient”

The spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) urged Marawi residents displaced by the nearly five-month war to “please be patient” as they still have to clear the areas to ensure nothing untoward will happen to the residents when they return to the city.

Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesperson, told the Mindanao Hour press briefing in Malacanang on Tuesday that the return of the evacuees (internally displaced persons or IDPs) to Marawi will still take some time because “there is a need to clear all these buildings of all unexploded ordnance (UXO) as well as IEDs (improvised explosive devices) that may have been left by these retreating terrorists.”

The press briefing was held late Tuesday morning, a few hours before President Rodrigo Duterte declared in Marawi that the country’ s lone Islamic city is now “liberated from the terrorist influence,” marking the “beginning of rehabilitation for the people.”

A boy scratches his head in one of the evacuation centers in iligan City in this photo taken Saturday, 08 July 2017. President Rodrigo Duterte on October 17 declared Marawi “liberated from the terrorist influence” but the displaced population will have to wait some more before they could return to Marawi. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

“We want to ensure the safety of all our citizens, particularly the residents of Marawi who will want to visit the areas of their residence and recover whatever it is that remains from the damage that has been caused by this terrorist group,” Padilla said.

“We must be 100 percent sure that no bomb, no IED, no booby trap is left in these areas,” he stressed, noting it would be “untenable and unacceptable to us” if the displaced residents survived nearly five months in the evacuation centers but would be killed or wounded on their return to Maraw because of an IED left behind

Water and electricity, too

“Please be patient. We ask for our citizens to understand the predicaments that we still face. But rest assured that our soldiers, our airmen, our sailors, our marines, and our policeman and coastguards men who continue to be in this fight are determined and focused to finish it as soon as possible,” Padilla said.

“We hear you General, we only need to be there in safe zones along the national highway to protect what’s left from looters,” Samira Gutoc of the Ranao Rescue Team, herself an evacuee, told MindaNews.

“That’s good,” said Adman Poro Rasuman, another member of RRT who evacuated to Cagayan de Oro City. But he expressed hope they could recover what they lost, appliances, his wife’s jewelry, etc.. “Kanino namin maitatanong kung saan napunta or sino kumuha?” (From whom do we ask where they went and who got them?”) asked Rasuman, who ran a fried chicken business in Marawi.

Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesperson of the Provincial Crisis Management Committee, said Padilla’s appeal is “understandable because of the presence of unexploded ordnance and the absence of basic services like water supply and electricity. It is not feasible and even conducive for our residents in the main battle area to return to their homes. There’s also the mopping and clearing operations going on.”

Adiong added that residents whose houses are within the cleared or controlled areas “should be allowed to return to their houses once we’re done coordinating with barangay captains.”

78,466 displaced families

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has recorded 78,466 families or 359,680 persons from Marawi and neighboring areas who were displaced by the armed conflict in Marawi. Most of the evacuees are home-based or those who sought refuge in relatives’ houses.

Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra last week told MindaNews that 40,000 families were displaced from his city whose population, according to Philippine Statistics Authority records was 201,785 as of 2015 and was, until May 23, 2017, the most populous area in the five-province, two-city Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The daytime population of Marawi was much higher — as the city is the trading center of Lanao del Sur. The first shots of the Marawi Crisis, which reached Day148 on the day of Duterte’s liberation declaration, were fired in Barangay Basak Malutlut on a Tuesday afternoon.

“Ground Zero” or what was the main battle area was the commercial district of Marawi and the most populated part of the city.

Post-conflict needs assessment

Also at the Mindanao Hour press briefing, Assistant Secretary Kristoffer James Purisima, Deputy Administrator for Administration of the Office of Civil Defense reported that five OCD-led teams composed of 145 members from 15 agencies, accompanied by representatives of the Marawi City government, were deployed to Marawi City by Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) to conduct a post-conflict needs assessment (PCNA) starting October 16.

He said each team was assigned to assess a number of barangays declared cleared by the military and referred to as Zones 0 to 12. He did not say what barangays comprise each zone.

Purisima said they expect a report on the PCNA by October 27.

The damage and losses assessment (DALA) in the still uncleared areas identified as Zones 13 to 17 will start as soon as the AFP’s clearing operations are completed, he said.

On housing and reconstruction, Purisima said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPHW) has completed site development for areas 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 in Barangay Sagonsongan totaling 9.9 hectares while road concreting is still ongoing and is set to be completed by end of November.

Purisima did not say how many houses have been installed in Barangay Sagonsongan.

As of Tuesday noon, 10 October 2017, workers at the transitional shelter site in Barangay Sagonsongan in Marawi City had yet to complete the flooring for four houses. MIndaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

The first four units of the 22-square meter transitional shelters made of sandwich panels — pre-fabricated light metal sheets with styrofoam as core — were supposed to have been installed by October 10, Korean contractor Danny Seo told MindaNews on October 6. But only one flooring was finished as of noon on October 10. The foreman told MindaNews on October 12 that while the floorings have been finished, installation would be done only after a seven-day drying up or curing of the concrete floor.

According to the TBFM, an initial 1,175 houses are to be installed on the 14 hectare-site (earlier announcements said initial 1,100 houses on an 11-hectare site) in Sagonsongan. Seo’s firm, a partner of the Iligan City-based Golden Gate Construction, is installing 265 units which Seo said will be inaugurated by December 8.

Gandamra said their initial recommendation was 6,300 transitional shelters for residents at Ground Zero. He said priority for the transitional shelters will be those who have no more homes to return to in Ground Zero, have no capabilities of finding refuge elsewhere, and are willing to stay in the temporary shelters.

Bahay Pag-asa in Barangay Bitu Buadi Itowa in Marawi City, has 50 houses made of bamboo, nipa and PVC pipes. The transitional shelter project is a partnership of the private sector and the military. Twenty-six of these 50 huts have been turned over to selected evacuees. MindaNews photo by H. MARCOS C. MORDENO

Purisima mentioned in his update Bahay Pag-asa in Barangay Bito Buadi Itowa in Marawi City, a partnership of the Tarlac Heritage Foundation, Chinese Filipino Business club, Ic., and the 1st Infantry Division. President Duterte graced the inauguration of the village on October 2.

Purisima said 26 of 50 transitional shelters — huts made of bamboo, PVC pipes and nipa — have been turned over to selected evacuees.

The city government of Marawi and the provincial government of Lanao del Sur have developed and presented their rehabilitation plans and Purisima said these are being “reviewed, validated and refined” with the assistance of the Task Force.

He said the Marawi City government is working with the military in identifying barangays that are already declared safe and families returning to these areas “at the soonest possible time” will be assisted by troops. But residents will be allowed to return “by barangay clusters,” he said.

TFBM deploys PCNA Teams in Marawi City

From the Philippine Information Agency (Oct 16): TFBM deploys PCNA Teams in Marawi City

Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) sent out Post Conflict Needs Assessment (PCNA) teams composed of various national and local government agencies in 24 barangays in Marawi City.

According to Assistant Secretary Kristoffer Jame Purisima, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Deputy Administrator and TFBM spokesperson, each team was assigned to assess a number of barangays declared cleared by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and which were referred to as Zones 0 to 12.

The team left the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) in Iligan City on October 16 to assess the damages and losses incurred due to the still-ongoing conflict.

Purisima said that before the field deployment, security briefings and re-orientations on the PCNA process were conducted at the NEOC on 14 and 15 October 2017.

The target date of completion for the field deployment, including data analysis, consolidation, and report development is on 27 October 2017.

He also said Damage and Losses Assessment (DALA) in uncleared areas identified as Zones 13 to 17 shall commence immediately once the AFP’s clearing operations are completed.

The Human Resource Needs Analysis (HRNA), as part of the PCNA, was already completed as early as August 2017. TFBM awaited for the clearance from the AFP in order to proceed with the DALA.

While the conflict was ongoing, TFBM focused on providing assistance for the internally displaced persons (IDPs), both home-based and in evacuation centers.

This was made possible through the TFBM member agencies in partnership with affected local government units and stakeholders.

Five OCD-led teams is composed of 145 members from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB), Technical Skills and Education Development Authority (TESDA), National Electrification Administration (NEA), National Housing Authority (NHA), Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), Social Housing Finance Corporation (SFHC), Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) and Marawi City Local Government Unit.

PCNA result will be the basis for comprehensive recovery and reconstruction program for Bangon Marawi. (TFBM)

SE Asia’s top terror leader Hapilon killed as Marawi siege nears end

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 17): SE Asia’s top terror leader Hapilon killed as Marawi siege nears end

After 16 years of dodging military dragnets and spreading terror in southern Philippines, Isnilon Hapilon, Southeast Asia’s most notorious IS-linked terrorist leader, was killed Monday dawn during a gun battle with government forces making their final offensive against Maute terror group gripping Marawi City since May 23 this year.

Hapilon’s second in command, Omar Maute was also killed, leaving the terror group leaderless, although there are about eight foreign terrorists still fighting the government forces.

After 147 days of close quarter fighting as of today, the Maute terror group suffered 824 dead while the military sustained 162 killed.

During the same period, the military has rescued 1,771 civilians held hostage by Maute terrorists. The military also recovered 837 high-powered firearms in the main battle area.

There were 17 hostages, including a two-month child rescued by soldiers during the fighting.

The offensive launched by the military and police forces has drastically reduced Maute’s occupied area from about 30 hectares at the start of the fighting to just two hectares at present.

The gun battle has been confined right at the city’s once bustling business district which is now in ruins.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Año said during a press conference in Marawi City which was broadcast live on radio and television that the Marawi crisis would end soon.

Marawi City is some 750 kilometers from Manila.

The 51-year old Hapilon, the “emir” anointed of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia, was killed while trying to flee to another building in the area. He was armed with an M4 automatic rifle when he was killed.

On the other hand, Omar Maute was killed by an army sniper while fleeing with Hapilon and other terrorists and their hostages at the height of the fighting from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. Friday.

Año said the military has a hard time crushing the Mautes holed up in the city because soldiers have to be extra careful not to hit civilians held hostage by the terrorists.

The hostages, including women and children were used by the terrorists as human shields, preventing the soldiers from an all-out offensive.

Año also said that had there been no hostages, the fighting could have been ended in a few days.

But he said the military values innocent human lives, hence the counter-offensive is carefully planned so that no hostages would be hit in the crossfire.

During the initial stage of the fighting, some 900 Maute terrorists occupied the city of Marawi last May 23 this year when a military-police team tried to serve a warrant of arrest on Hapilon, who was reported to be hiding in the area.

This triggered the fighting that continued to rage to date, though now in pockets of resistance unlike the previous months wherein the IS-linked Maute terror group put up a strong resistance against government forces backed up by warplanes, helicopter gunships, tanks and armored vehicles.

By all indication, the Mautes had long prepared to fight the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) as the terror group has secretly stored high-powered weapons, ammunition, bombs and improvised explosive devices (IED) the past months or even years without being detected by military and police intelligence units, apparently because of the connivance of civilian-sympathizers in Marawi.

The terrorists also utilized the underground tunnels constructed by wealthy residents as part of their security measure in case a “rido” (family feud) erupts which is common among Muslim communities.

During the assault Monday dawn, the military launched the operation following reports given by an informer that Hapilon and Omar Maute were holed up in one of the buildings in the main battle area.

Fighting immediately erupt as the troops cautiously inched toward the building where the two terrorists were hiding, tagging along with their some 37 hostages and 39 members of the Maute families.

During the fighting, a sniper fatally hit Omar Maute. The killing of the two terrorist leaders practically left a leadership vacuum in the Maute terror group.

Año said the military would intensify their operation to end once and for all the terrorist threat posed by the Maute terror group out to establish a Caliphate in the Philippines.

He said a total of nine Maute terrorists, including Hapilon and Omar were among those killed in the fighting on Monday.

There are still some 22 hostages in the hands of the terrorists.

The United States has put up a USD5 million on the head of Hapilon for his capture dead or alive, while the Philippine government has allocated USD200,000.

Hapilon was involved in the kidnapping of 20 tourists, including three Americans in Dos Palmas Resort in Palawan on May 27, 2001.

The three American held hostages by the Abu Sayyaf were Guillermo Sobero, Martin Burnham and his wife, Gracia, an American missionary couple.

But on June 11, 2001, Sobero was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf. His execution was announced by Abu Sabaya, the Abu Sayyaf spokesman, as a “birthday present” to then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Sabaya was later killed in a running sea gun battle with government forces off the coast of Basilan Island in southern Philippines.

In June 2002, Martin Burnham died in the crossfire between government forces and the Abu Sayyaf during a rescue operation in Basilan. Gracia Burnham was wounded during the fighting but soldiers rescued her.

It was this kidnapping incident that Hapilon was indicted in the District of Columbia for kidnapping involving US nationals.

Since the Dos Palmas abduction, Hapilon and other terrorists were the object of massive manhunt by Philippine military and police forces..

But the wily Hapilon managed to escape from pursuing government forces.

There had been reports that Hapilon was killed but all were fake news as the terrorist leader mounted attacks after attacks, and continued his kidnapping spree.

But this time, Hapilon is really dead, a victory of the Philippine government in crushing terrorism in the country.

Police, military remain on high alert

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 18): Police, military remain on high alert

Following the death of two terrorist leaders in Marawi City, a military official said government forces have remained on guard against armed extremists who continue to wage war against the government.

“We cannot let our guard down” despite the death of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Maute leader Omarkhayam Maute, said Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesperson for the Phil. Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID).

Noting that two of Northern Mindanao's major cities—Cagayan de Oro and Iligan—are geographically close to Marawi, Martinez said they are monitoring "suspicious personalities” who are still in the Lanao del Sur area.

In Iligan City, police said they will continue to strengthen security measures even after Hapilon and Omar Maute's death.

Police Director Leony Roy Ga described the threat on Iligan City as "still present and high."

“Since the start of the attack, we have already heightened the security all over Iligan City because almost all the displaced families who fled their homes in Marawi City are seeking refuge in Iligan City. There are reports that some sympathizers of the Maute are inside Iligan,” Ga said.

Meanwhile, Martinez said the remaining members of the extremist groups who are on the government watch list have been considered at-large "unless proof of their death has been established."

“We need to verify if those on the watch list were killed, otherwise we have to assume that they are alive,” he said, adding that many of those on the rouge’s gallery were already killed since the fighting in Marawi started on May 23.

BIFF bomb expert arrested in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 18): BIFF bomb expert arrested in Maguindanao

Government forces and its ally, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), arrested Tuesday a bomber of ISIS-inspired local jihadists in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao.
Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, Maguindanao police director, identified the suspect as Mahdi Abdulla, 27, of Barangay Pagatin, Datu Salibo.

Abdulla is believed to be a member of outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) special operations group responsible in setting off explosives against soldiers and MILF members.

Government forces acted on intelligence information provided by the MILF and local residents who have gone tired of BIFF atrocities to capture the suspect.

Capt. John Arvin Encinas, Army’s 6th Infantry Division spokesman, said Abdulla was collared at the vicinity of a floating restaurant establishment in Barangay Sambolawan.
He did not resist arrest.

Tello said Abdullah, also known as “Rok,” was a bomb expert and believed to be one of the students of slain Malaysian bomb expert Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.

Abdullah was tagged by military and police intelligence operatives as member of the BIFF hit squad, targeting off duty soldiers along Maguindanao highways.

Tello said the 5 p.m. joint police, Army and MILF operation led to the recovery of a fragmentation grenade, illegal drugs and bomb making components from Abdullah’s house.

Abdullah was turned over to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group for the filing of appropriate charges.

After Marawi, AFP to focus on fight vs NPA

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 18): After Marawi, AFP to focus on fight vs NPA

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will focus on the fight against New People’s Army (NPA) after their success in battling Maute Group in Marawi City.

AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año, in a speech during his visit at the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) Tuesday, said that there will be more Army battalions deployed in the Eastmincom area since most of the places are NPA infested.

“Ngayon natapos na yung Marawi crisis, mag-re deploy na tayo ng presence, may ibabalik na tayong pwersa dito (Now that the Marawi crisis is over, we will re deploy more military presence, we will return the troops here ), ” he said.

Año also said the Philippine Army (PA) will activate additional 10 Infantry Battalions, six of which will be deployed in Eastmincom areas.

“Ito’y para tuldokan na natin yang CPP-NPA na yan (We want to end the CPP-NPA),” he said.

He said this new mandate came from the order of President Rodrigo Duterte who early pronounced the war against the communist groups.

Año said the 8,000 new recruits for the Army will be completed by November this year. Majority of the new recruits will be deployed in Eastmincom.

“By January, additional 5,000 troops will be recruited sapagkat gusto natin mangyari na sa katapusan ng 2018, wala ng CPP-NPA kahit isa sa buong Pilipinas (because we want to happen that by the end of 2018 there will be no CPP-NPA in the whole Philippines),” he said.

“And we can start the massive economic development especially in the area of Mindanao,” he said.

He said the government will be constructing big highways, bridges and railway stations in different parts in Mindanao and this will not be attained if there is peace and order problem.

Martial Law stays despite Marawi liberation

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 18): Martial Law stays despite Marawi liberation

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will not yet lift the Martial Law in Mindanao despite the killing of the two leaders of Maute Group in Marawi City.

AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año said even if the crisis in Marawi City is already finished there are still terror threats in other places in Mindanao that need to be addressed.

“Meron pang mga threats dito na kailangan pang tapusin katulad ng Basilan at Sulu pati na rin Maguindanao, yan ay ang susunod na step na ating gagawin (There are still threats that need to be done such as in Basilan, Sulu and Maguindanao and that is our next step to be done),” he said during a press briefing on Tuesday night at the Eastern Mindanao Command in Panacan, Davao City.

Año said the troops deployed in Marawi City during the siege will be brought to these places for them to address the threats.

“Pagpupursigihan natin na masupil ang mga terrorists sa mga lugar na iyon (We will do our best to eradicate the terrorists in those areas),” he said.

However, the lifting of Martial Law will be the discretion of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Ano said that he can recommend to the president to lift the Martial Law only to some areas.

“Magkakaroon pa tayo ng assessment (We will still have an assessment),” he said.

Meanwhile, Año bared that the 8,000 new recruits for the Philippine Army will be completed by November this year of which the majority will be deployed in Mindanao.

He also saidafter the Marawi City crisis, the whole force of AFP will be focusing on eradicating the New People’s Army (NPA).

“By January, additional 5,000 troops will be recruited sapagkat gusto natin mangyari na sa katapusan ng 2018, wala ng CPP-NPA kahit isa sa buong Pilipinas (because we want to happen that by the end of 2018 there will be no CPP-NPA in the whole Philippines),” he added.

Hapilon’s ASG-relatives surrender

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 18): Hapilon’s ASG-relatives surrender

Three more Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members, who are relatives of the slain emir of the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS) for Southeast Asia Isnilon Hapilon, have surrendered as government offensives continue in this province.

Lt. Col. Jonas Templo, Army’s 74th Infantry Battalion commander, identified the surrenderees as Ben Salim Sapilin alias Been Sapilin; one alias Attik, 23, and Mohammad Endeng alias Aburayhan, 22.

Templo said the three are cousins of Hapilon, who was killed in a firefight on Monday dawn with government forces in Marawi City.

Templo said the three surrendered at around 4 p.m. Tuesday in Barangay Macalang, Al-Barka, Basilan.

He said they are currently undergoing custodial debriefing facilitated by the intelligence operatives of the Army’s 74th Infantry Battalion.

Since January this year, a total of 123 ASG members have surrendered in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and in this city.

Woman inciting terror online nabbed in Taguig

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 18): Woman inciting terror online nabbed in Taguig

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested a woman allegedly involved in the recruitment of foreigners into the country for terrorist activities and spreading radical Islamic extremism through the use of the internet and social media.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and NBI Director Dante Gierran on Wednesday presented Karen Aizha Hamidon, 36, to the media, who was arrested at her residence in Taguig City following a search operation conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation-Counter Terrorism Division on October 11.

Hamidon is now facing 14 counts for violation of Article 138 of the Revised Penal Code (inciting to rebellion or insurrection) in relation to Section 6 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (Republic Act of 2012) before the Department of Justice.

“Under the law to prove conspiracy you have to prove that there was an agreement to commit the crime of rebellion and rebellion was actually executed. But in this case, I believe although she was not fighting with the ISIS or Maute group in Marawi the action of the subject clearly denotes that she was in conspiracy with the rebels,” Aguirre said.

“So in my opinion she should be charged not only of inciting to rebellion but to the crime of rebellion itself. Because under the law, under the jurisprudence, even there is no proof of actual conspiracy the acts of the parties you would deduce , deduct that there was the same design, the same purpose that would be proof of the agreement and so I believe she is part and parcel of this rebellion happening still in Marawi city,” Aguirre explained.

For his part, Gierran said Hamido has been a person of interest to authorities since she gained international notoriety in the middle of 2016 when she successfully recruited several Indian nationals to come to the Philippines and join the radical Islamic extremist groups in Mindanao.

Gierran added that suspect is further of interest to the Philippine Government since she is the wife of Mohammad Jaafar Maguid alias “Tokboy” and Abu Sharifa, the former leader of the Ansar Khalifa Philippines (AKP), a group responsible in the September 2016 Davao City night market bombing in cooperation with the Maute Group, as well as the failed attempt to bomb the US Embassy in Manila last December 2016. Maguid was killed by the police in January 2017 in Saranggani.

“Hamidon is also under investigation by other foreign intelligence agencies for her possible links to international terrorist financing and her spreading radical Islamic propaganda,” Gierran added.

Hamidon posted on various public groups in social media application “Telegram” statements calling on Muslims to come to the Philippines and join the fight against the government forces in Marawi City in order to establish a province of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), NBI-CTD operatives effected the Search Warrant resulting in the arrest of the subject and the seizure of cellphones, laptops, tablets and other electronic devices being used for her illegal online activities. After forensic examinations on her cellphone, an additional 296 posts of the same message promoting rebellion in Marawi City were discovered.

In her social media application ”telegram” on the day she was arrested, she posted the following messages:

“The soldiers of Taghut are desperate to defeat the Muhajireen of the Islamic State of Marawi City…but Wallahi they won’t be successful. They won’t be able to defeat the force of Dawlah because Allah (Azza wa Jaal is on their side).

That is why the Dawlah is once again inviting all our ikhwaanil Muslimeen in all parts of the Philippines and around the world to support our Muhajireen of East Asia. Let us go to Marawi, in Mindanao to join the war against the Conquerors of the soldiers of Tawagheet.”

Rebellion charges will also be filed by the NBI against Hamidon in relation to her 296 social media posts supposedly calling on foreign and local Muslims to join the fight against government forces in Marawi.