MANILA • A Jordanian man once considered a financier for Al-Qaeda and a "henchman" of Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law was arrested in the Philippines last month, officials said yesterday, reinforcing concerns that Islamist militants are making a base in the country.
Mahmoud Afif Abdeljalil, 51, was arrested on July 4 in Zamboanga, a coastal city at the south-western tip of Mindanao, the Philippines' second-largest island.
Abdeljalil had false documents under an assumed name, said Mr Jaime Morente, chief of the Bureau of Immigration, in a statement. Abdeljalil has been in government custody since the arrest. "We are going to deport him for being an illegal entrant as he has no record of arrival after he was arrested and deported in 2003 for being an undesirable alien," said Mr Morente.
In 2003, the Philippine authorities said Abdeljalil was a close associate of Mohammed Khalifa, a Saudi businessman and Osama's brother-in-law, and that the two were involved in financing the Al-Qaeda network through charity organisations.
The authorities said they began months of monitoring Abdeljalil after he and an Algerian companion were flagged at a military checkpoint in Zamboanga in August last year. Abdeljalil said under questioning that he had returned to the country in 2007.
The US Central Intelligence Agency has dramatically weakened Al-Qaeda since the Sept 11, 2001 attacks - the organisation has not carried out a large-scale attack in years.
Meanwhile, US officials revealed on Wednesday that Hamza bin Laden, a son of Osama who was seen as a future Al-Qaeda leader, was killed some time in the first two years of the Trump administration.
NBC News said three US officials confirmed they had information of Hamza's death, but gave no details of the place or date.
The New York Times later cited two US officials saying they had confirmation Hamza was killed during the past two years in an operation that involved the US.
Questioned by reporters in the Oval Office, US President Donald Trump did not confirm or deny the NBC report.
Both reports suggested Hamza may have been killed well before the US State Department announced a US$1 million (S$1.37 million) bounty on his head in February.
The 15th of Osama bin Laden's 20 children and a son of his third wife, Hamza, thought to be about 30 years old, was "emerging as a leader in the Al-Qaeda franchise", the US State Department said in announcing the reward. His whereabouts have never been pinpointed. He was believed to have been under house arrest in Iran, but reports suggest he may also have resided in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria.
NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE