PNP, AFP arrest suspected foreign terrorist in Manila

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 19) — Authorities on Monday presented suspected foreign terrorist and his Filipina companion, who were arrested in Ermita, Manila over the weekend.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald dela Rosa said arrested Tunisian national Fehmi Lassoued was a recruiter for an international terrorist organization and a former ISIS commander in Syria and Turkey.

"Sa ngayon dito sa Pilipinas recruiter ang kanyang status pero formerly negotiator between ISIS leadership and local government officials in Syria and Turkey. Former ISIS commander in Syria, Turkey border, so commander siya ng ISIS. In fact merong ISIS flag na nakuha," he said in a media briefing.

[Translation: In the Philippines, he is a recruiter. But he was a former negotiator between ISIS and local government officials in Syria and Turkey. He was a former ISIS commander in Syria and Turkey. We have retrieved an ISIS flag from him.]

Dela Rosa added Lassoued entered the Philippines in July 2016 from Iran using a fake passport.

Lassoued and Anabel Moncera Salipada of Upi, Maguindanao were arrested for possession of assorted firearms, ammunition, components for improvised explosive device. They were arrested through a joint counterterrorism operation of the police and Armed Forces.

"The arrest of  Lassoued and Salipada may have effectively thwarted whatever hostile activities they were up to, but we will not lower our guard rather we will continue to mount proactive operations against terrorism," Dela Rosa said.

Authorities are still investigating the involvement of Salipada.