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Following the arrest of two members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said yesterday the government is trying to determine if there are other members and local contacts of the terrorist organization in the country.
“We are going to continue in partnership with our intelligence units to verify if there are other persons involved,” Aguirre said.
Last March 25, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) arrested at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City Kuwaiti male Husayn Al-Dhafiri and Syrian female Rahaf Zina, both have been identified as members of the ISIS.
Husayn has been involved in explosive manufacturing and possibly on operational planning against Kuwait, while Rehaf is the widow of the slain Abu Jandal Al-Kuwaiti, the number two military commander of ISIS operating in Syria.
The two whose arrest stemmed from the deportation request of the Kuwaiti Embassy are currently detained at the National Bureau Investigation (NBI) while awaiting the finalization of the deportation proceedings against them.
“Baka they wanted to continue briefing or investigating so baka they might be transferred to the custody of the police or military,” Aguirre said.
Citing verifications made by the BI on Husayn’s travel records, the secretary noted that the Kuwaiti has been in the Philippines several times in 2016 using a tourist visa.
Aguirre said the couple has been in the country since January 28 using working visas which was facilitated by a local company called Q8 Solutions.
Meanwhile, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente assured that the bureau is investigating the company.
Since their arrival last January, Morente learned that the couple went to Davao for four days and to Cebu for three days.
During the couple’s stay, Morente admitted that it is possible that the two may have met with members of local terror groups like the Maute group.
“That is a possibility and that is being investigated by our intelligence service,” said Morente.
“I think the military is very much aware of this. They are validating this information,” he added.
Morente recounted that the Kuwaiti government informed the BI that the two face charges for planning bombing operations.
“The place we still do not have any fix information (about the bombing target) but it could be in Kuwait, it could be in the Philippines,” said Morente
“There’s a possibility that their planning included the Philippines, they being here in the country,” he pointed out.
(JEFFREY G. DAMICOG)