Fall of wife of Malaysian terrorist Marwan weakens Jemaah Islamiah: Philippine police

The five terror suspects, who were arrested on Feb 25, inside the police headquarters in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.
The five terror suspects, who were arrested on Feb 25, inside the police headquarters in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.PHOTO: PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The arrest on Sunday (Feb 25) of the wife of slain Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Hir, or Marwan, has weakened the South-east Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiah (JI), according to the Northern Mindanao police.

Police, however, were still on high alert for retaliatory attacks by JI and other terror groups, according to Superintendent Lemuel Gonda, spokesman for the Northern Mindanao police.

Gonda said police were not taking any chances since remnants of JI in the Philippines, who have also pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group, appeared to be regrouping after the loss of key leaders and the arrest of Juromee Dongon, wife of Marwan.

Marwan was killed in a police operation in 2015 that also resulted in the massacre of 44 elite police officers in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao province.

Dongon and four other terror suspects were arrested in separate raids in Tubod and Baroy towns in Lanao del Norte province on Sunday.

The arrests, plus the death of Marwan, dealt a severe blow to JI, Gonda said.

He described Dongon, who was also formerly married to Abu Sayyaf leader Khadaffy Janjalani, as a "high-profile" JI member who played a key role in the terror group's operations even after Marwan's death.

Dongon, according to Gonda, gave JI "all forms of support, from access to financial sources to networking with associates and other terror groups".

JI was still a major concern of police, Gonda said, adding that the terror group was "evolving".

"They are getting in touch with other groups," Gonda added.

Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City, said the military had monitored several trips by Dongon to Marawi City shortly before ISIS followers tried to set up a base there.

Dongon, according to Petinglay, was familiar with Marawi because she studied at Mindanao State University.

Dongon was also "verified" to be the secretary-general and finance officer of "a local JI group", Petinglay said.