Military Probing Malaysian Terror Suspect for Abu Sayyaf Ties

Zamboanga City, Philippines, 27 Muharram 1438/28 October 2016 (MINA)  – The Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) has been interrogating a suspected Malaysian terrorist captured in Basilan, a security official said Thursday.

Ahmad Tarmizi ben Muhamad Sayoti, who has been linked to the Abu Sayyaf Group under Isnilon Hapilon, initially denied his ties to the terrorist group when captured, Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said.

According to Philstar, Sayoti was trying to slip back to Malaysia using the southern backdoor when he was arrested by the military. Col. Cirilo Donato, commander of the 104th Infantry Brigade, reported earlier that operatives recovered an improvised bomb from the suspect.

“But it was proven that he is from another country [and] linked up with the Abu Sayyaf group in Basilan,” Tan said.

Tan said Sayoti was even seen in one of the terrorist’s videos flashing the “No. 1” sign associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and bearing the black flag of the ISIS.

“So, ISAFP is in the best position to conduct the tactical interrogation to determine why Sayoti met with the ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) and what is the purpose of the meeting,” Tan added.

Sayoti’s arrest underscored an observation of Indonesia-based think tank Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) that it is important “more than ever” for law enforcement agencies to know and understand links with terror groups abroad.

The IPAC cited the existence of local jihadist groups Abu Sayyaf, Maute Group, Ansarul Khilafa Philippines (AKP), and the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), who are willing to be affiliated with international terror groups in exchange for support.

IPAC director Sydney Jones, in her latest analysis, said more militant fighters could also be attracted to the Philippines “as the jihad of choice” as ISIS gets pushed back in Syria and Iraq.

Jones said getting to Syria becomes increasingly difficult for Southeast Asian fighters. “Mindanao may be the next best option. The difference is that it’s easier to get home.” (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)