A suspected member of a terrorist group and allegedly the trusted aide of Dawlah Islamiya caretaker Mudzrimar Mundi Sawadjaan was arrested in Zamboanga City over the weekend, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Gen. Camilo Cascolan said.
Cascolan identified the suspect as Hashim Saripada alias Ibnu Kashir Saripada, who was arrested by operatives of Regional Intelligence Unit-9 and 84th Special Action Company (Seaborne) in Barangay Recodo around 6:30 a.m. on September 28, 2020.
Cascolan said Saripada’s arrest is a big blow to Sawadjaan’s group.
“Saripada is the assistant of Mundi Sawadjaan, this will be a very, very big blow on him kasi nawalan siya ng isang pinagkakatiwalaan (he lost a trusted aide) and this one is his assistant so karamihan ng kanyang activities ngayon hindi na matutuloy (most of his activities have been shelved) because of that and he knows na mino-monitor na siya ngayon ng lahat ng (he’s being monitored by all) intelligence and anti-terrorism units,” he said.
Cascolan said Saripada was wanted for the crime of multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder. Seized from the suspect were a hand grenade and materials for making improvised explosive devices.
Based on police reports, Saripada had a key role in the July 31, 2018 bombing of a CAFGU detachment in Sitio Magkawit, Barangay Maganda, Lamitan City, Basilan.
Saripada, together with Sawadjaan, also reportedly prepared the IED detonated by an Indonesian couple at the Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu on January 27, 2019.
“Investigation revealed that Saripada facilitated Al-Maghribi’s travel from Sulu to Basilan,” he told reporters during a press conference at Camp Crame. Al-Maghribi is the suspected suicide bomber in the Basilan blast.
Following the Lamitan bombing, Saripada went into hiding in an island in Sulu, said PNP Intelligence Group chief, Brig. Gen. Edgar Monsalve. The arrest was a result of the strengthened coordination of the police with the community, he added.
“Meron mga kapatid natin sa community na nagbigay ng impormasyon na sighted ulit si Saripada sa Zamboanga kaya inuulit ko ‘yung reminder po ng ating mahal na chief PNP na dapat tayo ay lumapit sa community ito na naman po ang isang ehemplo. Nangyari na naman po, tulong ng ating mga kababayan na impormasyon na ibinigay sa PNP (We have reports from the community that Saripada was sighted in Zamboanga and with this we reiterate the reminder of the PNP chief that we should provide information to the police. This is a good example),” Monsalve said.
Saripada is currently under the custody of police in Zamboanga.
“Hindi po tayo nawawalan ng pag-asa at tayo po ay tuloy tuloy po natin siyang dinidiplomasya, para makipag-cooperate siya at makapagbigay ng impormasyon tungkol sa plano nila (We are not losing hope, as we try to extract information from him and urge him to cooperate in giving us information about their group’s plans),” he noted.
Police and military forces are now hunting Sawadjaan who was also tagged as the brains behind the twin suicide bombings in Jolo on August 24, 2020, which claimed 15 lives.
Cascolan assured the public of continuous police efforts against domestic threat groups.
In a related development, Cascolan said 26 members and a supporter of a communist terrorist group have surrendered to the police in Masbate province.
Of the surrenderers, 15 were members of the New People’s Army, nine members of Milisyang Bayan, two members of Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad, and one supporter.
They also surrendered four high-powered and 28 low-powered firearms. (Christopher Lloyd Caliwan, PNA)