Philippines holds Pakistani suicide bomber suspect in custody

MANILA (XINHUA) - Philippine immigration agents have arrested a Pakistani suicide bomber suspected of having links with local terrorists in southern Philippines, the Bureau of Immigration said on Wednesday (June 19).

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the suspect, identified as Waqar Ahmad, 36, was arrested on Tuesday while manning the appliance store owned by his uncle in Zamboanga City.

The suspect is allegedly a "suicide bomber and a member of the Dawlah Islamiya terrorist group". He is now in police detention in Zamboanga City while undergoing deportation proceedings "for being an undesirable alien due to his alleged terrorist links and for working in the country without a permit", Mr Morente added.

According to Mr Morente, Ahmad was "arrested after several days of intensive (police) surveillance" at the appliance store of his Pakistani uncle in Zamboanga City where the suspect worked as "storekeeper and collector". A check with the Bureau of Immigration records showed that Ahmad arrived in the Philippines on April 19 this year, he added.

"He (Ahmad) will be deported, as his presence here is inimical to national security. He also violated our immigration laws by working here without applying for an employment visa," Mr Morente said.

Ahmad will not be allowed to enter the country ever again, said Mr Morente, adding that the suspect will be blacklisted.

Citing international intelligence reports, Mr Morente said Ahmad has "alleged links to the radical Islamist group Dawlah Islamiya, which allegedly has ties to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Maute group, both of which have been blamed for several bombing attacks in the South".

 

Moreover, intelligence information showed that Ahmad came to the Philippines "to meet with a ranking leader of the Abu Sayyaf group in Basilan in order to plan and carry out suicide bombings in the province", said Mr Morente. Basilan, an island province off Mindanao, is a known lair of the Abu Sayyaf militants.

"Authorities suspected that Dawlah Islamiya was behind the bomb explosion that wounded 18 people at a restaurant in Insulan, Sultan Kudarat (on) April 4 (this year)," Mr Morente said.

Philippine authorities have warned that terrorists are very likely in trying to carry out attacks in the Philippines. Attacks have been carried out using improvised explosive devices and small arms.

Terrorist groups continue to plan attacks and have the capacity and the intent to carry out attacks at any time and anywhere in the country, including in the capital Manila and in places visited by foreigners, such as airports, shopping centres, public transport, and places of worship.

On Jan 27 this year, at least 27 people were killed and many more injured following bomb attacks at a Roman Catholic cathedral located on the remote Jolo Island in Sulu province.