A PHILIPPINE National Police Intelligence Group (PNP-IG)-led counter-terror operation in Cotabato City yesterday morning triggered a gunbattle which led to the killing of a wanted bomb-maker of the ISIS-inspired Daulah Islamiyah Group in Cotabato City, said PNP chief, General Debold M. Sinas.
“This is part of our continuing effort to account for all wanted terrorists in Mindanao and other parts of the country with our officers being reminded time and time again that they must be ready to confront armed and deadly targets,” said the PNP chief.
The top cop said members of the PNP-IG headed by Colonel Warren F. de Leon initiated the operation against the targets led by Jasmiya Camsa Ibrahim who is the subject of a search warrant for illegal possession of firearms and explosives issued by Judge Allan Edwin Boncavil of the Sultan Kudarat Regional Trial Court Branch 19.
At around 1:40 a.m. yesterday, operatives from the Regional Intelligence Unit 12 Counter-Terrorism
Division and RIU 15, backed up by officers from the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group under Major Gen. Joel Napoleon M. Coronel, the PNP Special Action Force headed by Major Gen. Bernabe M. Balba and the Cotabato City Police Office raided the suspected terror group’s safehouse on Don Rabago Street, Bagua 2, Cotabato City.
While about to enter the residence, the husband of the suspect identified only as alias ‘Abu Suffian’ fired shots at the officers prompting the lawmen to retaliate. The suspect was killed on the spot.
The PNP chief said the suspect is known as one of the masterminds of the South Seas Mall bombing in Cotabato City on December 31, 2018 which killed two civilians and wounded nearly 30 others. The terrorists left a powerful IED near the baggage counter at the entrance of the Cotabato City mall before detonating it.
The PNP-IG said the resistance offered by the slain suspect gave Ibrahim the chance to escape.
The raiding team was able to secure a woman and six children, all minors inside the house. All are now under the custody of local government authorities.
Sinas said that recovered inside the raided house were a 60mm mortar ammunition, hand grenade, a loaded caliber .45 pistol with a magazine containing several live ammunition and some improvised explosive device (IED) components.
In a report to the PNP chief, de Leon described ‘Abu Suffian’ as a student of the infamous Mohammad Jaafar ‘Tokboy’ Maguid, the founder of the Ansar al-Khilafah Philippines who was killed in a firefight with security forces in Sarangani province in January 2017.
Authorities found out that the suspect underwent IED training under Maguid in Butril, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat in 2015 before participating in the five-month bloody Marawi City Siege which started on May 23, 2017 and left over 100 people including over 60 of the terrorists dead.
De Leon said that at the height of the government offensive to retake Marawi City, ‘Abu Suffian’ along with the wives of some slain jihadists managed to flee the area and went to Maguindanao where they joined the group of Salahudin Hassan before moving to Cotabato City.
“They were monitored to have provided accommodation to the widows of Dawlah Islamiyah-Maute Group members who were killed in the siege,” the PNP-IG director said.
Before he was killed, Maguid and his cohorts were known to have organized the pro-ISIS terror group Ansar al-Khilafah Philippines which gained notoriety for having the closes connection among local terror groups to ISIS fighters in Syria.
The AKP was also believed to have worked closely with the Maute Group in carrying out the deadly September 2016 bombing of a night market in Davao City in an apparent effort to distract the PNP and the Armed Forces for their focused operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu and Basilan.