By Francis Wakefield
A military official Sunday confirmed that one of the bodies recovered following a three-day military operation in the areas of Salibu-Pagatin-Mamasapano and Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao was a foreign terrorist said to be an Arab national.
Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, the Commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, identified the foreign terrorist as Abdul Rahman, who was tagged a bomb maker.
He said they were able to establish the identity of Rahman based on their database and information from their intelligence units.
Sobejana said they still have to check when Rahman entered the country and who was with him. Sobejana confirmed that the terrorist was aligned with or was part of the faction of Esmael Abdulmalik, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Toraype.
The military earlier estimated that 20 Daesh-inspired terrorists were killed as a result of their all-out operations based on the scattered human flesh and body parts plus the three bodies recovered which include Rahman.
Sobejana said they were not discounting the possibility that Rahman was in charge of training local terrorists to make bombs.
“Most likely, bomber ito. Ito ‘yung mga kwan, nagdadala ng kwan technologies coming from… kung saan sila nagtre-train. So sila yung responsible sa pagtrain ng mga local terrorist natin [Most likely he is a bomber. Definitely they are the ones who bring technologies coming from… where they train. So they are the ones responsible training our local terrorist],” Sobejana said.
Sobejana said there were at least five foreign nationals fighting among local terrorists, including Singaporean militant Muhamad Ali Abdul Rahiman, also known as Muawiyah.
“Ang account actually namin, mga lima. Isa si Mauwiyah, dalawang Arab looking, tapos Indonesian looking [Based on our account there are still five. One is Mauwiyah, two Arab looking, and the Indonesian looking],” Sobejana said.
“Si Mauwiyah hindi pa namin ma-confirm pero wala nang proof of life eh. Ang ano kasi natin, ang nag, yung mga tao dun na nakatira at nadisplace dahil sa alam nila na before the bombing nandun, a few minutes before the bombing nandun si Mauwiyah, si Salahudin Hassan, si Abu Toraype. Medyo hindi sya namataan dun, itong dalawa ‘yung confirmed na nandun at saka yung si Bastardo, si Commander Bastardo na kasama, napabilang na rin dun sa mga namatay [About Mauwiyah we still cannot confirm but there is no longer proof of life. The residents there who were displaced they know before the bombing, a few minutes before the bombing Mauwiyah, Salahudin Hassan, Abu Toraype were there. He was not seen there, the two others were confirmed to be there and Bastardo, Commander Bastardo who was included of those killed],” he said.
Meanwhile, Sobejana expressed belief that the death of Rahman serves as a big blow to the morale of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Dawla Islamiya, two small groups aligned with the Islamic State group.
“Definitely. Pagka may foreign national (na napatay) psychologically affected sila at yung mismong pagkuha natin sa lairs nila somehow that means a very big setback [Definitely. If there is a foreign national killed, psychologically they are affected sila including our capture of their lairs somehow that means a very big setback],” Sobejana said.
Sobejana said troops also managed to capture IED (improvised explosive device) manufacturing facilities of the enemy following their operations, thus their ability to fabricate IEDs is significantly degraded.
Sobejana said despite their recent victories against the enemy, continuous operations are being undertaken within the SPMX Box to once and for all neutralize the terrorist groups in their area of responsibility.
He added that, since Friday (March 15), ground troops have taken full control of Barangay Inadalan which was previously the center of the terror groups’ operations.
Sobejana said they are urging residents displaced by fighting to already go back to their homes.
As of their last count, the number of individuals displaced has reached 20,000 people or about 4,000 families.
It was recalled that at least 20 bandits belonging to the BIFF and Dawla Islamiya were neutralized during the military operations from March 11 to 13.
Two of among those casualties were recovered in Barangay Inaladan, Shariff Saydona Mustapha by the troops of 40th Infantry Battalion, and one of which was a foreigner believed to be an Arab.
Accordingly, on March 12, 2019 while the troops of the 40th IB were conducting combat clearing operation supported by air and artillery fires in Brgy. Inaladan, when they encountered undetermined number of terrorist group.
The operation resulted in the neutralization of BIFF members, 17 of which were identified as Abdul Karim Kadil, Yusop Lakiman, alias Paks/Pagal, Yusop alias Bastardo, Musa alias USA, Dungadong alias Dong, Hamer Lakiman, Alladin Bagundong, Baser Abdula, Muhalidin Akob, Ansare Mukalir, Datokan Masala, Mutasir Manap, Kage Manap, Duang Ali , Mubarak Antoling, and Yusop Kadir.
Ground troops also reported that there were human parts that were seen in the encounter site and recovery of war paraphernalia’s and Anti-Personnel Mines.
On the other hand, one government trooper was killed, while 11 others were wounded.
The military said the neutralization of the foreign national significantly reduces the capability of the terror group on training and manufacturing of Anti-Personnel Mines.
“We will go after the bandits to safeguard the civilians and put an end to this menace of society,” Sobejana said.
“Soldiers of the 6th ID have been vigilantly guarding the entire Central Mindanao in order to constrict the firefight in specific engagement areas and continue to pursue the remnants of the terror group,” he added.