THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) need all the help they can get from the government, their foreign counterparts and the citizenry in countering threats posed by terror rings in the country including those trying to associate themselves with ISIS or the Talibans, a security analyst told the Journal Group.
Professor Rommel C. Banlaoi made the assessment even as PNP chief, General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar maintained they have not received any report about possible terror attacks in the country amid last week’s warning from the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs about potential attacks in Southeast Asia.
However, the top cop said they are not lowering their guard and are continuously monitoring intelligence reports from the ground and from counterparts both from local intelligence units and from other foreign countries involved in the war against terror.
Banlaoi, a member of the Advisory Council of the PNP Drug Enforcement Group said that as far as he is concerned, the government and the public must be wary of the possibility of the following: Conjugal suicide terrorism, Filipino suicide terrorism, Female suicide terrorism, Juvenile suicide terrorism, and Lone Wolf suicide terrorism.
He said Mindanao has been a witness to at least five suicide bombings which killed a total of 50 people and wounded nearly 200 others since the infamous Marawi City siege in October 2017.
“Suicide terrorism has become the most prevalent means of violent attacks by pro-Islamic State elements in the Philippines four years after the Marawi liberation. They were initially perpetrated by foreign nationals in Lamitan, Basilan and in Jolo and Indanan, Sulu but were eventually followed by Filipino suicide bombings in Indanan and Jolo,” Banlaoi said.
The professor from Miriam College said that so far, all suicide terrorist attacks in the country have become ‘family affairs,’ thus the advent of family suicide terrorism which involved female bombers and their children.
Having female and juvenile suicide terrorism means the persons involved are now involved in ‘martyrdom operation’ or from Jihad, or the Holy War or struggle to defend Islam with force if necessary to Shaheed or a martyr who dies for his/her faith.
Banlaoi said that history will show that ‘suicide terrorism’ was actually practiced by so-called ‘juramentados’ during the Spanish colonial period. In those days, ‘juramentado’ was described as a Muslim swordsman who attacked and killed policemen and soldiers and expected to be killed himself in a form of ‘jihad’ which means martyrdom for him.
The analyst said that amid the Japanese Embassy warning, it should be noted that terrorists have been ‘adaptive and resilient to the new situation in the country. They are also persistent and evolving due to crime-terrorism nexus; complex because of being enmeshed in many other issues like insurgency, warlordism, banditry, local political dynamics, clan wars and vested interests, and last but not the least, threats really run in the family.
He cited the threats posed by the Abu Sayyaf Group whose formative years were in 1989 to 1991 when they first became known for their involvement in kidnappings-for-ransom and later terrorism and banditry including beheading their captives and launching deadly bomb attacks.
Then there is the threat posed by the Daula Islamiya/Islamic State Philippines and Maute Group specifically the Abu Zacaria Group, the Turaie Group, Karialan Group and the Bungos Group from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the Nilong Gorup or remnants of the Ansar Khalifa Philippines, the Hassan Salahuddin Group, the followers of Suyuful Khilafa Fi Luzon and foreign terrorist fighters hiding in the Southern Philippines.
During the effort to retake Marawi City in 2017, security forces were believed to have neutralized a total of 32 identified foreign terrorists.
“But so far, these have been all family affairs, family suicide. Prior to Marawi City, they have trained potential suicide bombers including children in combat and suicide missions. I have found out in my study that all suicide attacks involving families are all inter-related, meaning they are related with each other, even in the financing of terrorism. This means family members are involved especially in mobilizing women, either the wife or daughters to perpetrate the act,” Banlaoi said.
He specifically mentioned families like the Maute Group and the Janjalanis who formed the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Banlaoi said arrests like those made by the PNP and the Joint Task Force sulu last February 19 nipped in the bud the possibility that several potential suicide bombers and personalities linked to the Abu Sayyaf may be on the run and plotting to hit some targets in the country.
Among those identified as possible threats to the country were two daughters and a 10-year-old son of Indionesian nationals Rullie Rian Zeke alias ‘Ibrahim’ and Ulfah Andayani Saleh alias’ Umi,’ the two alleged suicide bombers who hit the Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu on January 27, 2019 killing 20 people and injuring 102 others.
Gen. Eleazar stressed that since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, police units particularly those in the Mindanao region have been alerted so they could prevent the possibility of spillover of the hostilities from the country which may be perpetrated by local terrorists.
He issued the remarks after the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned about the risks of attacks, such as suicide bombings, in countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar and called on its citizens to exercise extra precautions while staying in these countries.
Gen. Eleazar assured the public that the PNP is continuing its intensified intelligence-gathering measures to prevent atrocities being plotted by lawless and terror groups, whether local or international.
(To be continued)