‘Facilitator’ of Islamic State terror funding nabbed in Sulu | Inquirer News

‘Facilitator’ of Islamic State terror funding nabbed in Sulu

/ 05:34 AM February 17, 2024

CAPTURED Photo provided by the Presidential Anti-OrganizedCrime Commission shows police on Thursday accompanying
two women, one of them terror suspect Myrna Mabanza,
in Pasil village, Indanan, Sulu.

CAPTURED Photo provided by the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission shows police on Thursday accompanying two women, one of them terror suspect Myrna Mabanza, in Pasil village, Indanan, Sulu.

The government said it arrested a woman on Thursday tagged by the United States as a facilitator for “terror” who gave money and other aid to the Islamic State (IS) group.

Myrna Mabanza was arrested near the town of Indanan, Sulu, a stronghold of IS-linked armed militant group Abu Sayyaf, according to a statement from the Anti-Terrorism Council.


The US treasury department in 2018 listed Mabanza as a “facilitator for terror,” saying she supported the Philippine branch of Isis, an alternate name for IS.


It accused her of “assisting in, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of” Isis-Philippines.

Fund transfers

The US and Philippine governments both alleged that the 32-year-old was involved in two 2016 fund transfers—one of up to $107,000—to Isnilon Hapilon, then leader of the Abu Sayyaf militant group and Isis-Philippines.

Mabanza was also alleged to have served as intermediary between Hapilon and IS elements in Syria.

In April that year, she “helped facilitate” a trip by a representative of the IS-linked group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah from Indonesia to the Philippines, where she took the person to Basilan Island to meet Hapilon, the two governments said.

The unnamed representative came to the Philippines to purchase arms for IS-aligned forces in Indonesia and set up training courses for Indonesian recruits on firearms use and bomb-making, they added.

Marawi siege

Hapilon, who was on the US “Most Wanted Terrorists” list, was killed in October 2017 near the end of a five-month siege by Philippine troops against hundreds of IS-linked gunmen who had seized the southern Muslim city of Marawi.


Tighter security

“Mabanza’s arrest marks another positive note for the Philippines’ whole-of-nation campaign to address terrorism and terrorism financing,” Manila’s statement said.

Mabanza, described by official sources as a Philippine national, is being held without bail and will be tried on terror financing charges, it added.

In Manila, state prosecutors said they were considering Mabanza’s transfer from Zamboanga City to the capital region for tighter security, noting she has “numerous relatives” in southern Mindanao.

Mabanza is currently detained in Zamboanga City by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police.

“Transferring her to Manila to the facilities in Taguig would ensure that she would be properly guarded,” state prosecutor Rassendell Gingoyon said at a press briefing.

The Regional Trial Courts in Quezon City (Branch No. 77) and Taguig City (Branch No. 266) are “equipped” to hold Mabanza’s trial as they are designated by the Supreme Court to handle terrorism cases.

Mabanza is facing five cases for alleged violation of Republic Act No. 11479, or the Anti-Terrorism Act, and Republic Act No. 10168, or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act.

Gingoyon said Mabanza was involved in financing terrorism by receiving money from foreign nationals in Malaysia, Turkey, Jordan, Indonesia, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

“We have a presumption that these are remittances for the purpose of supporting Isis and Al Qaeda activities in the Philippines. That is one of the primary reasons why we filed several complaints against her for terrorist financing,” he said.

Justice Undersecretary Nicholas Felix Ty said Mabanza facilitated an estimated $107,000 in terrorist funds, some of which were used for buying arms and importing “foreign fighters to join the Marawi siege.”

Teacher by profession

According to state prosecutor Rodan Parrocha, Mabanza was a teacher by profession and was married to an Abu Sayyaf “sympathizer” identified as Abu Anas.

“After the death of Abu Anas, she remarried, and based on [the] intel report, her present husband is a high-ranking [Moro National Liberation Front] leader and she stayed in the camp of the husband,” Parrocha said.

In three of her five cases, Mabanza is accused along with two others—Marsan Ahaddin Ajijul, who is currently detained in Malaysia, and Norkisa Omar Asnanul, who is now also in government custody, according to prosecutors.

Officials said Ajijul was an active member of the Abu Sayyaf and allegedly one of the “trusted” persons of Mabanza. He was identified as a combatant and also a purchaser of materials and supplies for the group.

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Asnanul reportedly received money remittances from Mabanza, based on the investigation of the Anti-Money Laundering Council. —REPORTS FROM JANE BAUTISTA AND AFP 

TAGS: Sulu, terror

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