Malacañang on Saturday confirmed that government forces “successfully neutralized” two members of the regional terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in separate incidents in Mindanao last year.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigal Valte identified the two as Ibnu Gholib al-Jitli, alias Ustadz Sanusi, an Indonesian, and Noor Fikrie Kahar, a Malaysian.
She said the killing of the two sent a clear message to foreign terrorists that the Philippines was no longer a safe haven for them.
“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 to spread acts of terror,” said Valte.
This was “good news,” she said, and “it is only proof of our continuing fight against terrorism.”
Sanusi was killed during a shootout with personnel of the Philippine Army’s First Division in Marawi City on Nov. 21.
Valte said Sanusi engaged the security forces in a firefight after they raided his hideout and attempted to arrest him.
“During the investigation by the police, they found 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.
Three Christian schoolgirls were beheaded in the town of Poso in Sulawesi, Indonesia, Valte said.
Kahar was shot dead by Davao City police while attempting to detonate an improvised explosive device in a city hotel on Dec. 18.
His wife, 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 antiterror campaign,” said Valte.
The JI is a Southeast Asian extremist group responsible for a series of terror attacks on regional government and civilian targets, including the infamous bombings in the Indonesian resort of Bali which killed 202 people in 2002. Michael Lim Ubac