The Department of Justice on Thursday confirmed fears that members of foreign terror group ISIS had entered the Philippines when it presented two suspected foreign terrorists arrested more than a week ago in Taguig City.|
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd presented to the media yesterday Husayn Al-Dhafiri, a Kuwaiti, and his wife Rahaf Zina, a Syrian, who are suspected to have links with the Islamic State. Rahaf was believed to be pregnant.
The two were arrested by Immigration agents on March 25 in Bonifacio Global City.
Aguirre said that the operation against the duo was kept under wraps. He lauded the Immigration personnel behind the capture of the suspected terrorists.
Husayn is suspected to be a middle-level leader of IS.
Aguirre said it is possible that the couple had contacts in the Philippines because they were able to visit various areas in the country.
Immigration officials said the couple had visited the country as tourists but on their second visit, they already had working visas.
The couple were placed under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation.
No weapons were found on the couple. Aguirre said the two will undergo deportation proceedings.
Early this week, analysts warned that battle-hardened Islamic State fighters returning from the Middle East are expected to rebase in Mindanao.
Instability and the easy flow of weapons have made Mindanao and nearby Philippine islands attractive to extremist groups, said speakers at the Milipol conference on homeland security in Singapore.
“Currently, IS is moving towards creating a territory in southern Philippines. The most recent communication issued by IS has announced that they have formally declared an East Asia division of IS in the southern Philippines,” counterterrorism analyst Rohan Gunaratna told the conference.
“Our forecast for 2017 is that the threat in this region will grow because of the creation of an IS nucleus in the southern Philippines,” added Gunaratna.
“The instability in the southern Philippines and the availability of weapons, internal displacement, refugee flows… create the ripe conditions for foreign terrorists to come,” he said.