Female, 3 other suspected ISIS-linked terrorists killed in Parañaque police raid

JC Gotinga

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Female, 3 other suspected ISIS-linked terrorists killed in Parañaque police raid
(3rd UPDATE) Police reports say the suspects had links to Abu Sayyaf bomb expert Mundi Sawadjaan, who helped plot suicide bombings in Sulu in 2019

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Four suspected terrorists and their supporters – all with alleged links to the Abu Sayyaf and Islamic State (ISIS) groups – were killed in a police raid in Parañaque City past midnight on Friday, June 26, police reports said.

The reports said operatives from the Metro Manila and Parañaque City police, and the military were about to search the suspects’ house in Better Living Subdivision, Barangay Don Bosco, at around 12:26 am when one of the suspects fired at the law enforcers, triggering a gunfight.

The suspects then attempted to hurl a hand grenade at the cops and soldiers, but it went off prematurely. The law enforcers broke into the house and brought the 4 suspects to the Ospital ng Paranaque, where they were declared dead on arrival, the same reports said.

The killed suspects were identified as: 

  • Merhama Abdul Sawari, alias “Mheng,” female, 40-45 years old
  • Bensaudi Sali, alias “Boy” or “Bhenz,” male, 37 years old
  • Rasmin Hussin, alias “Boscon,” male
  • Jamal Kalimming, alias “Pando,” male

Police Corporal Ehrol Gamboa of the National Capital Region Police Office was wounded on both legs, and is recuperating at a hospital.

‘Women of the Eastern Caliphate’

Police intelligence reports said the suspects, particularly Sawari and Sali, were members of the “Daulah Islamiyah Financial Conduit.” “Daulah Islamiyah” is Arabic for “Islamic State.”

Daulah Islamiyah (DI) is the ISIS-affiliated faction of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) under sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan.

Sawari was group finance and logistics facilitator for the ASG/DI in Sulu, the reports said.

She was said to have received remittances from Indonesian terrorist Yoga Fabrianto, who allegedly helped plan the Jolo Cathedral attack in January 2019. (READ: Women of the Eastern Caliphate)

Fabrianto was arrested in Sabah in June 2019.

Sali, Sawari’s husband, was a member of the ASG/DI in Sulu. He had been working as a security guard at a residential condominium in Parañaque City.

Hussin and Kamilling were also working as security guards. It is unclear from the police reports whether they, too, had direct links to the ASG/DI.

One of the reports said the suspects had a “confirmed connection” to bomb expert Mundi Sawadjaan, a nephew of Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan. Mundi Sawadjaan allegedly help plot the Jolo Cathedral suicide bombing by an Indonesian couple, and the attack on a military detachment in Sulu on June 28, 2019, by a duo of suicide bombers that included a Filipino.

Friday’s law enforcement team carried a search warrant issued by Judge Noemi Balitaan of Regional Trial Court Branch 258 of Parañaque City. The suspects allegedly violated the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Law.

Police recovered 4 guns, two hand grenades, an M16 rifle, several improvised explosive and firing devices, and two ISIS “black flags” from the suspects’ house, the reports said.

Anti-terrorism bill

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana commended the police and military for the “neutralization of 4 terrorists.”

“The presence of these terrorists in the National Capital Region highlights the need for us to enhance our measures against those who intend to bring harm to our people. A law such as the Anti-Terrorism Bill of 2020 will give our law enforcers greater capacity to stop these terrorists and prevent them from wreaking havoc in our communities,” Lorenzana said in a statement

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Felimon Santos Jr said in a statement that the incident highlighted the importance of a stronger anti-terror law.

“This development all the more highlights the need for the President and commander-in-chief Rodrigo Duterte to expedite the signing and immediate implementation of the Anti Terrorism Bill!” he said.

“It is public security and general welfare at stake. We should protect and defend from terrorists – without further delay than it had already been – fellow Filipinos from wanton death or destruction of their property,” Santos added. 

Congress recently passed a new anti-terrorism bill that includes terrorist support and financing as punishable acts, and gives law enforcement and military agents greater liberties in surveilling, arresting, and prosecuting terrorism suspects. The enrolled bill awaits President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature for enactment into law, as his office’s legal arm studies it for “constitutional infirmities.”

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr, one of the bill’s supporters, said in a presser on June 15 that 8 ASG “sleepers” were arrested in Metro Manila since 2019, and another one remains at large. – Rappler.com

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JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.