NBI says militant’s widow recruited foreign fighters | Inquirer News
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NBI says militant’s widow recruited foreign fighters

/ 07:04 AM October 19, 2017

EXTREMIST PROPAGANDA Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II presents to reporters Karen Aizha Hamildon (center),who was arrested for spreading radical Islamist propaganda and recruiting
foreigners to fight in the Philippines. RICHARD A. REYES

National Bureau of Investigation agents have arrested a woman who tried to spread radical ideas and recruit hundreds of foreigners to reinforce pro-Islamic State (IS) terrorists occupying Marawi City, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Wednesday.

Karen Aizha Hamidon, the widow of a former leader of a small extremist group in Mindanao, was arrested at her home in a Manila suburb a week ago and has been charged with inciting to rebellion in the Department of Justice (DOJ), Aguirre told a news conference.

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Hamidon, 36, is accused of using social media and messaging apps to call on foreigners to join the siege by an alliance of Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists and foreign militants in Marawi City, a battle that has lasted nearly five months.

“This is a welcome development in the fight against terrorism,” Aguirre said.

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IS province

NBI agents found Hamidon had made 296 posts in chatrooms on Telegram and WhatsApp “calling on Muslims in the Philippines, India and Singapore to come to Marawi to establish a province of [IS],” Aguirre said.

There were also about 250 names, mostly foreigners, in her phonebook who were suspected of being IS sympathizers, he said.

Dressed in a black burqa, Hamidon was paraded before reporters but was not allowed to speak.

Her laptop, cell phones and electronic gadgets were being looked at by experts for forensic investigation.

Hamidon, a Muslim convert, was married to Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, alias Tokboy, the former leader of the radical group Ansar Al-Khalifa Philippines.

The NBI said in a statement that Ansar Al-Khalifa worked with the Maute group for the bomb attack on a night market in Davao City in September 2016 that killed 15 people.

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Ansar Al-Khalifa was also responsible for the failed bomb attack on the US Embassy in Manila in December 2016, the NBI said.

Maguid was killed in a gunfight with police in Sarangani province in January, it said.

Aguirre said Hamidon was also linked to Singaporean and Australian extremists, both of whom are in detention in their countries.

Credibility questioned

But counterterrorism expert Sidney Jones, head of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, cast doubts about whether Hamidon had been effective.

Jones said Hamidon’s presence in chatrooms of IS supporters was not welcomed, her credibility had been questioned and some participants blamed her for the arrests of radicals.

“Everyone hates her and thinks she’s a spy,” Jones said. —REPORTS AIE BALAGTAS SEE AND THE WIRES

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TAGS: abu sayyaf, Ansar Al-Khalifa Philippines, inciting to rebellion, Islamic State, Karen Aizha Hamidon, Marawi siege, Maute group, Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, NBI, Tokboy, Vitaliano Aguirre II
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