By MARTIN A. SADONGDONG
An Iraqi chemist described as knowledgeable on explosives and has close ties with a militant extremist movement in the Middle East was arrested by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Pampanga.
General Ronald dela Rosa, PNP chief, identified the suspect as Taha Mohamed Al-Jabouri, 64, supposedly a rocket technology consultant of the Palestinian militant group “Hamas.”
Al-Jabouri has a master’s degree in explosives technology from Belgrade University in Yugoslavia, Dela Rosa added.
“He is responsible for improving the rocket technology of Hamas. They are firing rocket missiles from their base towards… the other side, from five kilometers to 30, even 100 kilometers,” Dela Rosa said in a press briefing in Camp Crame.
According to Dela Rosa, Al-Jabouri was arrested by elements of the PNP-Intelligence Group (IG) around 3 a.m. Sunday in Barangay Malabanias, Angeles City based on a tip from the Barangay Information Network (BIN).
Description and photographs of Al-Jabouri were provided by the Iraqi Embassy to the PNP.
During the arrest, Dela Rosa said Al-Jabouri was toting a large black luggage containing his Iraqi passport, assorted personal effects and different denominations of foreign currency.
Pursuing agents found out Al-Jabouri’s 90-day visa had already expired. It was only valid only from August 10, 2017 to November 9, 2017.
Asked whether the PNP had monitored Al-Jabouri doing illegal activities, Dela Rosa responded: “We have not yet established that but we have taken him in custody because his visa was already expired.”
Dela Rosa said Al-Jabouri admitted he was a consultant for Hamas in Damascus, Syria before moving to Istanbul, Turkey in 2012.
However, the suspect claimed he only traveled to Manila to meet a Chinese business group that hired him as a consultant.
“He claimed that he has no plans of doing any terror attacks and said he has purely business intention when he came here in our country but considering the date of his entry, it is highly suspicious,” Dela Rosa said.
Dela Rosa said the suspect arrived in Manila from Istanbul, Turkey Aug. 27 last year amid preparation for the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.
The PNP will file appropriate charges against Al-Jabouri for being an illegal alien.