By Mario Casayuran
The Muslim terrorist in a video showing him and two others slitting the throats of foreigners in Syria in 2016 was Mohammad Kiram Reza, a Filipino and a registered resident of Mindanao.
In his recent co-sponsorship speech of Senate Bill 1083, the Human Security Act of 2019, Senator Ronald dela Rosa said that they have apprehended Reza as a suspected terrorist when he was still Davao City Police Director in December 2013
“We have monitored all of his moves. Including that of an occasion when he, together with his wife and son, visited the hotel room of a known Jemaah Al Islamiya member and Malaysian suicide bomber named Mohammed Nor Fikrie. Fikrie was later neutralized by my SWAT team when he was about to detonate himself inside a crowded restaurant in Davao City,’’ he said.
“However, since the military and police intelligence could not provide us sufficient evidence to prove his terrorist activities before the lapse of the allowable detention period, we were forced to release him. If only we had been allowed then to detain him for at least a week in order to build a solid case against him as a terrorist, he would not have had the opportunity to commit more terror acts,’’ he pointed out.
Dela Rosa, who later became the PNP chief, said that it was found out that in 2012, Reza, after his bomb-making training abroad, was able to recruit fellow Filipinos to join their organization which aims to sow terror in the country as motivated by Osama Bin Laden’s video on the 9/11 attack in the US.
Dela Rosa said the country’s existing law against terrorism is “so soft that it is almost tantamount to tolerance.’’
Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, also a former PNP chief and chairman of the Senate National Defense and Security Committee, is the principal sponsor of Senate Bill 1083 that seeks the adoption of more stringent regulations and procedures in addressing the terrorism issue.
Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said lawmakers had assured President Duterte of the passage this year of the measure to take the place of the two-year-old Martial Law covering the violence-wracked Mindanao island which will expire on December 31.
As the Senate is scheduled to go on a month-long Christmas break starting Wednesday, Sotto said the Senate might just be able to approve the bill on second reading this week.
“In 2015, their organization, Dawlaa Islamiya, pledged their support to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and he (Reza) was able to travel to Syria. The following year, he appeared on the video I showed to you earlier. A Filipino turned terrorist,’’ dela Rosa said referring to a video feed played during his co-sponsorship speech.
Dela Rosa, chairman of the Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee, said amendment to an existing law against terrorism ‘’would ensure protection of all Filipinos from an evil that has caused so much pain and suffering; a destructive force that has no regard for innocent lives; the phenomenon that is— terrorism.’’
“Sometime in 2016, a gruesome video showing three men standing with their knives, each positioned to slit the throat of three kneeling captives circulated on social media platforms. The only audio that can be heard from the video is the voice of the man at the center uttering words in support of a terrorist organization and waging war against law enforcement agencies in Asia. After this man’s utterances, they beheaded the said captives,’’ he said.
“Unknown to most of us, the man in the center of the video, who seems to be the leader of the trio, is a Filipino and a registered voter of a barangay located in the southern part of the country. He is Mohamed Kiram Reza,’’ he stressed.
Dela Rosa said Reza was included in 2018 in the US list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
The United Nations Security Council also designated him under the ISIS and Al-Qaeda Sanctions List. He was also included in the INTERPOL Red Notice list in April, 2019.
“Despite his notoriety as a terrorist, in 2018, our law enforcement agency was only able to file a case against him for the crime of Inciting to Sedition in relation to the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 for the very video I showed to you,’’ he said.
‘’Imagine, a person specially designated as ’Global Terrorist’ was charged only with a crime beyond arms-length of our current anti-terrorism law or the Human Security Act of 2007,’’ dela Rosa said.
He said the other terrorist in the video who was standing on the right side of Reza was identified as Mohamed Saifudin Faiz, an Indonesian national who spent most of his adult life in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Faiz was arrested by PNP Intelligence Group operatives in Zamboanga City last 2005 but was released in 2015 after his case was dismissed. He was deported to Indonesia and eventually joined the ISIS in Al-Raccah, Iraq.
“We do not tolerate acts of terrorism. We must let it be known to the world that we are in solidarity in the global fight against terrorism and this stand should materialize in legislation,’’ dela Rosa said in his impassioned speech.
“The most advanced weaponry budget can provide is worthless if our law enforcers’ hands are tied because the law restricts them to be more aggressive in their cause against terrorism. It is the terrorists that should fear the law and not our law enforcers who are always under threat of lawsuits for violating rights of suspected terrorists,’’ he added.
Dela Rosa said he agrees with Lacson when he said that it is “Only in the Philippines–as the expression goes–where the anti-terrorism law has literally more provisions restricting our law enforcers than bringing terrorists to justice.”
“In 2017, the Philippines was ranked as the 12th country in the world with the highest impact of terrorism. Unfortunately, in 2018, our Global Terrorism Index ranking became worse. We are now the 10th country most impacted by terrorism – this is a list where we do not want to be included, not in the top 15 and not even in the top 100.