BI sends back Pakistani suspected of Al Qaeda links
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) said it had foiled the entry of a suspected member of the terrorist group Al Qaeda upon his arrival at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) on Saturday.
Muhammad Arif, 43, was stopped at Naia Terminal 1 after disembarking from a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok. A check with the BI database showed that the Pakistani national was included among the blacklisted aliens and suspected foreign terrorists.
BI commissioner Jaime Morente said Arif was immediately turned back and booked on the first available flight to his port of origin.
“We were informed that his purpose in coming here was doubtful because he could not pinpoint the places that he wanted to visit. He also could not say why he was traveling alone,” Morente said on Tuesday.
When Arif presented his passport at the immigration counter, the BI officer found out that the passenger was in the Interpol’s sanction list of individuals being linked to Al Qaeda, the bureau added.
The BI database also showed that the Pakistani was the subject of a blacklist order issued by then BI Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. in September 2011.
When interviewed by an immigration supervisor, Arif claimed to be the owner of the Dawn pharmaceuticals store in Islamabad and a distributor for the Novartis pharmaceutical company.
The Pakistani also maintained that he went to the country for a four-day vacation and that he would be staying at Malayan Plaza Hotel in Ortigas Center, Pasig City.
But BI officers also noticed a striking resemblance between Arif’s passport photo and that of a Muhammad Arif in the Interpol database. “(They) had no choice but to exclude him for posing a threat to our national security and risk to public safety,” Morente added.—JULIE M. AURELIO
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