MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang confirmed Saturday that the government had “successfully neutralized” two Jemaah Islamiyah members in separate incidents in Mindanao late last year.
Palace spokeswoman Abigal Valte identified the two as Ibnu Gholib al-Jitli a.k.a. Ustadz Sanusi, an Indonesian, and Noor Fikrie Kahar, a Malaysian.
“These are tangible gains in our fight against terrorism, and it is our hope that this will signal to other like-minded people that they cannot just come to the Philippines and use our country as a safe haven for people like them to spread acts of terror,” said Valte.
She said this was “good news,” and that “it is only proof of our continuing fight against terrorism.”
Sanusi was killed in a shootout with authorities in Marawi City on November 21.
Valte said that Sanusi had engaged in a firefight security forces that raided his hideout when they attempted to arrest him. But he was shot before he could flee.
“During the investigation by the police, they found improvised electronic devices and large amounts of currency among his personal effects,” said Valte.
Sanusi was believed to be a senior JI member who figured in a beheading incident in Indonesia in 2005, a year before he fled to Mindanao. He beheaded three Christian schoolgirls in the town of Poso in Sulawesi, Indonesia, said Valte.
Kahar was shot dead while attempting to detonate an improvised explosive device in a Davao City hotel on December 18.
His spouse, Anabelle Nieva Lee, remains in the custody of the authorities, and is “under judicial process,” said Valte, who did not elaborate.
“So at least we could show that the government is serious in its anti-terror campaign,” said Valte.
JI is a Southeast Asian extremist group that is responsible for a series of terror attacks on government and civilian targets, including the infamous bombings in the Indonesian resort of Bali, which killed 202 people, in 2002.
The Indonesian-based terrorist group was formed in the early 1990s to establish an Islamic estate in Southeast Asia, including southern Philippines.
Mindanao, at one point, had become a training ground for JI members.