THREE members of Abu Sayyaf, who were allegedly planning to sow terror during the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit, have been arrested and were presented on Friday in a press briefing, Philippine National Police Chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa said.
They were arrested in a joint operation by the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at the Salam Compound in Barangay Culiat, Quezon City on November 10, said de la Rosa.
They were identified as Sadam Jhofar, 24 years old; Alim Sabtalin, 19 years old; and Abdulgaffar Jikiri, also 19.
“They were captured because of our monitoring of the Asean,” de la Rosa said.
A report from the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) said that firearms, grenades, and ammunition were recovered from the alleged terrorists.
De la Rosa said the suspects were arrested before the start of the Asean Summit and even before the world leaders arrived in the country. The Summit proper was from November 13-15. World leaders began planing in as early as November 10.
De la Rosa said the arrest was announced late because the police was concerned that the public would panic and have “unnecessary anxiety attacks” during the summit.
De la Rosa said the QCPD and NBI got their lead from an alleged terrorist Facebook account.
However, the police chief was unable to give details of the terror plot. He said what he knew was that the suspects were “conducting surveillance” in focus areas of the Asean Summit like the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), main venue of the event.
“They did not admit to their crimes, but apparently they have plans to plot a terrorist attack,” de la Rosa said. RJ CARBONELL