Bato tags Asean meet ‘terror plotters’ based on FB posts
In social media lingo, these terror suspects shared “TMI” (too much information).
Police officials on Friday presented three alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) who came from Basilan province with a plan to launch attacks in the capital in time for the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit.
The intelligence community got a whiff of that plot, they said, based on the suspects’ Facebook photos.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said Abdulgaffar Jikiri, Saddam Jhofar and Alim Sabtalin were arrested in Culiat, Quezon City, on Nov. 10, three days before the two-day summit held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay.
In a press conference at Camp Crame, Dela Rosa said Jikiri, Jhofar and Sabtalin “apparently had a plan…to cause damage to the reputation of the Philippine government as host of the Asean summit.”
Citing the results of joint intelligence efforts of the PNP, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (Nica) and the National Bureau of Investigation, Dela Rosa said the suspects conducted a reconnaissance of the PICC and some malls and parks in Metro Manila.
For proof, the PNP chief cited photos of Jikiri and Sabtalin taken inside a Manila mall and at Rizal Park, which were uploaded on the Facebook account of “Abu Bakar Jikiri,” allegedly the alias of Abdulgaffar Jikiri.
Also posted on that account between Oct. 18 and Nov. 10, Dela Rosa said, were photos of explosives, wads of cash, and an armed Jikiri supposedly posing with other ASG members.
Director Oscar Albayalde, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, added: “There are indications (of their plan to attack) before the conduct of the Asean summit…
They have been posting (pictures) of places they have been, big malls, parks and in front of the CCP (Cultural Center of the Philippines) complex. We saw those.”
Asked why “terrorists” would reveal any sign of such planning on social media, Albayalde said extremists had been using the internet to spread their beliefs and recruit members.
Jikiri, Jhofar and Sabtalin were arrested in Culiat’s Salaam Compound in a joint operation of the NBI, Nica and Quezon City police, the officials said.
PNP said a cache of firearms, ammunition, grenades, and several mobile phones were recovered from the suspects, who were later charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives in the Quezon City prosecutor’s office.
The suspects had no lawyer and were not allowed to speak or take questions from the media during the Crame briefing.
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