The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are now hunting down suspected Malaysian terrorists who were behind in seizing a police station in restive province of Basilan in the Muslim autonomous region in Southern Philippines that triggered a clash killing two members of local bandits Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), authorities said.
Quoting from reports, Capt. Roy Vincent Trinidad, chief of staff of Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) and Joint Task Force Zambasulta, identified the foreign terrorists as Mohammad Najib, Muhammad Joraime and Mahmud bin Alih alias Handzalah Doc.
The three terrorists were the companions of Mohamad Amin Baco and Jeknal Adil, who were reportedly being hunted down by Malaysian government since July last year for alleged recruiting militants and sending them abroad to fight alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to Singapore’s Today newspaper.
The five were believed to be members of the Darul Islam Sabah in Malaysia.
The report, however, identified Mahmud as Dr. Mahmud Ahmad, a lecturer at Universiti Malaya’s (UM) Islamic Studies faculty, who went missing and believed to be hiding in the Southern Philippines along with four others under auspices of the ASG.
On Friday, Marine Capt. Ben June Cerbo said a clash erupted in the town of Hadji Mohammad Ajul, Basilan where troops had been pursuing the ASG and the Malaysian terrorists.
One of the slain radicals has been identified as Hakim Entong.
Soldiers also recovered improvised explosive devices and two black flags similar to that of being used by ISIS and al-Qaeda international terror groups.
Other details in the clash were withheld by the military, but sources from the police said the fighting erupted when local policemen left their station in Tuburan proper of Hadji Mohammad Ajul Municipality, where around 50 “ISIS” combatants seized and rose the black flags near it.
Besides the named foreign terrorists, the sources also identified Filipino sub-leaders as Abdilla Alam, Mannan Alam, Abbas Alam, Uztadz Arabi Mandio, Zaid Utu Mandio who are along with two unidentified women acting as liaison involved in the attack.
“The situation in the area cannot control anymore by the local police [that inclined them to]abandon their sub-police station due to the presence of (the) ISIS,” the source said.
“The police provincial office [also]send additional [police forces]to augment the local municipal police [and]maintain the peace and order in the municipality,” the source said in a text messages.
No one was reported hurt in the attack.
The seized police station was later regained by security forces with help from civilian volunteers.
The ASG also known as Harakatul Islamiyah led by Isnilon Hapilon had previously pledged allegiance to the ISIS’ caliph self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Presence of radicals
The presence of the radicals are also feared in other parts of Mindanao.
Former provincial police director Senior Supt. Nickson Muksan, now chief of Maguindanao provincial police, earlier told The Manila Times the group behind the killing of police and army personnel in the province were “ISIS fighters” but refused to give further details.
The military in a “chance encounter” had killed four ISIS-inspired bombers in Madalum on September 2013 belonging to Khilafah Islamiyah Movement (KIM) locally known as Ghuraba.
The Ghuraba on October last year have declared that an Islamic caliphate or Khilafah Islamiyah has been established in the country and has started fulfilling its mission of propagating its doctrines and beliefs.
These were belied by security officials and local leaders as mere propaganda of the radicals.
Meanwhile, the Jema’ah Islamiyah (JI) in the Philippines, an al-Qaedah affiliate, recently released a new video titled message to Obama and the Philippines president, claiming that they, alongside with the Ansarul Khilafah [supporters of the caliphate], have now thousands of Mujahideen ready to fight against the government and “taghut [infidels].”
The JI’s public video was produced in bi-language with Arabic script translation and logo of Al-Wafa network. The video started with an introductory part of published news about “Philippines offers help in the United States war against ISIS.”
The video shows masked men holding the ISIS’s flag and rallying their support to the jihadist group, saying there are no leaders in the world other than al-Baghdadi. They even threatening to rise the “black flag” in Malacañang and the White House in the United States.
It also shows their training in combats including sniping, while discouraging other Muslims in the Philippines from not fighting for jihad. Young children were also seen in the video.
Ansarul Khilafah, which was formed by JI member Abdul Basit Usman, is operating in both Maguindanao and South Mindanao including General Santos City and Saranggani province, according to the intelligence community.
Authorities believe the death of notorious bomber Usman and international terrorists Zulkifli Bin Hir alias Marwan, who had ties with “black flag” extremist movements in the country and the JI, had weaken the radicals.