US, Kuwait help Philippines capture 2 with suspected IS ties

US, Kuwait help Philippines capture 2 with suspected IS ties

MANILA, Philippines — U.S. and Kuwaiti security officials helped Philippine authorities identify and arrest a Middle Eastern couple with suspected links to the Islamic State group who may have been planning bomb attacks, Filipino officials said Friday.

Philippine army intelligence agents, along with police and immigration authorities, arrested Hussein Aldhafiri and Rahaf Zina Dhafiri late last month in an upscale commercial district in Taguig city in metropolitan Manila. Their arrests were not announced until late Thursday, when the handcuffed suspects were presented to reporters but not allowed to speak.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the arrests were kept private to allow Philippine authorities to identify the pair’s local contacts and avoid the risk of their capture prompting possible accomplices to advance any planned attack. He said information provided by the U.S. and Kuwait made the arrests possible.

“I believe since nothing happened, we were able to nip whatever terrorist intention they have in the bud,” Aguirre said at a news conference in Manila.

Aldhafiri, a 40-year-old Kuwaiti, allegedly was an Islamic State group bomb maker who was helping plot attacks in Kuwait and possibly in the Philippines, Aguirre and other officials said, citing information provided by Kuwait. As he was led away at Thursday’s announcement, Aldhafiri said he needed a lawyer.

Aldhafiri, who last entered the Philippines in January, first travelled to the country last year as a tourist and later got a work visa. Officials said the Kuwaiti government plans to cancel his passport to allow the Philippines to deport him. They said he would most likely face terrorism charges in his country.

Dhafiri, a 27-year-old Syrian, was reportedly the widow of a top Islamic State group commander in Syria and later became Aldhafiri’s partner. After her arrest, she told authorities that she was pregnant and she was sent to a hospital. She will likely be deported to Qatar, where she last came from before flying to Manila, Philippine Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said.

Earlier this year, the couple travelled to southern Davao city, President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown, and the central city of Cebu, staying for a few days in each city, Morente said.

Aguirre said the two have had no known contact with Filipino Muslim militants.

A number of radical Islamic armed groups in the country’s south, including some commanders of the brutal Abu Sayyaf group, has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in recent years in a bid to secure funds and training and project an image of strength and relevance amid years of battle setbacks, the military says.

The Associated Press

Just Posted

Man who stole millions from Seabird Island band sentenced to 4.5 years jail

Stephen MacKinnon sentenced in Chilliwack court for stealing $2.3 million over eight years

Freezing temperatures expected in Lower Mainland

Snowfall warning ends, but surge or icy air to continue

Chilliwack Chiefs take gut punch from Merritt in 5-2 loss

Trying to hold off Langley and Surrey for the Mainland division’s second seed, Chilliwack faltered.

Chilliwack’s history celebrated during Heritage Week

Heritage Chilliwack partnering with Atchelitz and more for open house

Park and trails consultation sessions kick off on Feb. 24

City staff will be talking about some current parks projects like green gyms for example

VIDEO: Sphero programmable robot rolled out at Chilliwack Library

With kids already learning coding skills at school, local libraries offer access to fun practice

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

B.C. man brings dog to court as ‘best witness’

Man is defending himself on charges of uttering threats, possessing weapon for dangerous purposes

Ball hockey fundraiser to honour Langley man lost to cancer

Annual tournament at UBC aims to raise $45,000 this year

Vancouver artist’s cartoon of Florida school shooting resonates

Cartoon shows football coach, one of the victims, meeting others killed in school shootings

Trudeau family arrives in India for state visit

Seven-day visit includes meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Military seeks DNA experts to help ID missing war dead

Federal program recovers, identifies and arranges burials for Canada’s nearly 28,000 missing war dead

B.C. files new legal action against TransMountain pipeline

Province tries to uphold City of Burnaby bylaws, provoking Alberta

Most Read