Bato: 2 ‘jihadists’ planted bomb, one of them ‘bothered by conscience’
Two members of a jihadist cell planted the home-made bomb found in a trash bin near the US Embassy in Manila on Monday, the Philippine National Police said as it stuck to its initial “theory” as to who was behind the “attempted act of terrorism.”
PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa presented the suspects, Rashid Kilala, alias Rayson Sacdal Kilala, 34, of Bulakan, Bulacan; and Jiaher Kali Guinar, 30, of Marawi City. Both were arrested by Manila and Bulacan policemen the other day.
Kilala and Guinar allegedly belong to a cell of the Ansar Al-Khalifa-Philippines which is affiliated with the Maute terrorist group and has declared allegiance to the Islamic State (IS), Dela Rosa said in press briefing at Camp Crame on Thursday.
Dela Rosa said three more members of the cell remained at large and may have already have returned to Mindanao to help the Maute group, whose members are holed up in Butig, Lanao del Sur amid a military offensive launched against them last week.
“One of the three informed the others that he will be returning to Lanao to help their fellows because our military was already attacking their camp,” the PNP chief added.
Dela Rosa said the improvised explosive device (IED), made up of a mortar shell attached to a cell phone detonator, were placed among pillows and transported all the way from Mindanao in a Toyota Revo brought by the three other suspects, one of whom is also member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
Rizal Park first target
Kilala and Guinar rode the vehicle to Rizal Park in Manila before dawn Monday and planted the IED there, using radio as the triggering device.
The IED, however, failed to explode and Kilala, the driver, had an attack of conscience and convinced Guinar to plant the bomb somewhere else. The IED was fixed with a cell phone as its new detonator.
“He was bothered by his conscience because many might be hurt [at Rizal Park], so they went to Roxas Boulevard instead,” Dela Rosa said.
The two men passed by a garbage bin along Roxas Boulevard near the US Embassy and Guinar dropped the IED there.
The two were later apprehended through intelligence work, forensics and the testimony of eyewitnesses, one of whom provided a description of Guinar, a cell phone store owner who was arrested in Caloocan City.
Dela Rosa said a phone found in Guianar’s possession was confirmed to have rung up the phone attached to the IED left on Roxas Boulevard.
Dela Rosa said the PNP did not immediately disclose the arrest of Kilala and Guinar for “operational secrecy,” as the police were still hunting for the other suspects.
Only Kilala has admitted participation in the bomb plot, he said, and both suspects were still under investigation and have not yet been provided with lawyers.
“They should look for lawyers on their own. I don’t want it to be my problem,” the official stressed. “They’re the ones who wanted to kill innocent people and I will give lawyers to defend them?”
The suspects will be charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism and illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Asked about the suspects’ motives, Bato said “they want their group to get recognition from Isis, especially if they can explode a bomb and hurt many people. At the same time they wanted to ease up the pressure on the Butig offensive. They want to be recognized, they want fi nancial support. Ideology plus money. That can be the motive.”
The PNP chief said the public, especially those in Metro Manila and urban centers, should expect random mobile checkpoints, as well as more PNP operations against suspected terrorists and raids on their hideouts, as the country remained under “Threat Level 3” as declared by the Anti-Terrorism Council.
The alert status was raised following the Sept. 2 night market bombing that killed 15 people in Davao City, which the government also blamed on the Maute group. Threat Level 3 means there is a strong possibility of a terror attack within a short period of time.
However, Dela Rosa explained there was no need to panic as the terror alert was only equivalent to the PNP’s “full alert status,” which has been in effect since the Davao bombing.
“There’s no cause of alarm. I’m advising the public to be vigilant, alert and cautious. But don’t panic. Relax, enjoy Christmas,” he added.
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