PH, Singapore to cooperate on nabbing Singaporean terrorist
SINGAPORE – The Philippines and Singapore may soon work together to track down and capture a Singaporean terrorist believed to be leading a terrorist cell in the Philippines.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong himself asked for the name of the terrorist from Philippine officials during an expanded bilateral meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr said in a news briefing with other Cabinet officials here on Friday, December 16.
"We did not hesitate upon the request of the Prime Minister to give them the name of the person concerned, and this will trigger off a lot of areas of cooperation and information-sharing in the future," Yasay said.
Philippine intelligence agencies have supposedly identified a Singaporean as among foreign nationals working with Filipino terrorists in Mindanao. (READ: Duterte, Singapore's Lee agree to fight terrorism, drugs)
"In one occasion, our intelligence information showed that there was a Singporean, for instance, that was actively involved in terrorist and other criminals activities," said Yasay.
He said the Singaporean government offered technology and assistance in sharing intelligence to combat terrorism and crime.
Days before, Duterte mentioned the Singaporean, as well as the presence of Indonesian and Malaysian terrorists in the Philippines.
"You know, in Sulu now, there’s a group there, the extremist, maybe ISIS, which is led by a Singaporean,” Duterte said on Tuesday, December 13, before leaving for Cambodia.
"You’d be surprised that a Singaporean, [from] a nation with very strict criminal laws – they are able to nurture a cell there of terrorists,” he added.
Presidential Spokesman Ernest Abella, who was at the news briefing, declined to name the Singaporean, saying this was still strictly confidential.
While the Duterte administration did not want to mention any name, Philippine authorities as well as media reports had identified a Singaporean terrorist who had been in the country for years – Mohammad Ali alias Muawiyah, one of those that the military had mistakenly declared as killed in an airstrike in 2012.
In 2015, Philippine authorities said they were hunting down Muawiyah, a senior Jema'ah Islamiyah member reportedly protected by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Muawiyah has a $500,000-bounty on his head. – Rappler.com