Police arrest supposed Sawadjaan aide in Zamboanga City

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 28)— Authorities have arrested a supposed aide of Abu Sayyaf Group sub-leader Mundi Sawadjaan in Zamboanga City on Sunday, according to the Philippine National Police.

Hashim Saripada, also known as Ibnu Kashir Saripada, was arrested by virtue of a warrant from a Basilan court over multiple counts of murder and frustrated murder charges, PNP chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan said in a media brefing.

A hand grenade and materials for making home-made bombs were also recovered during the arrest.

The police said concerned citizens reported sightings of the suspect in Zamboanga City which led to his arrest.

"Saripada is the assistant cohort of Mundi Sawadjaan. This will be a very, very big blow on him because nawalan siya ng isang pinagkakatiwalaan. And this one is his assistant. Karamihan sa kanyang activities ngayon hindi na matutuloy because of that and he knows na mino-monitor na siya ng lahat ng intelligence at anti-terrorism units," Cascolan said in the Camp Crame briefing.

[Translation: Saripada is the assistant cohort of Mundi Sawadjaan. This will be a very, very big blow on him because he has lost a supporter. And this one is his assistant. Most of his activities won’t push through now because of that, and he knows he’s being monitored by all intelligence and anti-terrorism units.]

Sawadjaan is said to be the mastermind of the twin suicide bombings in Jolo, Sulu last August.

The Abu Sayyaf Group has pledged allegiance to the international terror group Islamic State (IS) or Dawlah Islamiya (DI).

Terrorism activities

PNP Intelligence Group chief BGen. Edgar Monsalve cited Saripada's major participation in the 2018 suicide bombing at a military detachment in Lamitan City, Basilan.

Monsalve said the arrested suspect facilitated the travel of Moroccan suicide bomber Abu Kathir al-Maghribi from Sulu to Basilan.

After the incident, Saripada supposedly hid in Sulu.

Authorities reported that he also participated in the suicide bombing involving an Indonesian couple at the Jolo Cathedral in Sulu on January 2019.

Saripada is now under the custody of the police in Zamboanga City where he is undergoing tactical interrogation.

"Ine-extract po natin ang information. Kasi alam naman po natin na ang taong ito ay highly dedicated kaya medyo hard po ito. Pero hindi po tayo nawawalan ng pag-asa at tuloy tuloy natin siyang dinidiplomasya para mag-cooperate at makapagbigay ng impormasyon tungkol sa plano nila," said Monsalve.

[Translation: We’re still extracting information. Because we know that this person is highly-dedicated, it would be hard. But we won’t lose hope and we’ll continue to seek his cooperation and to give information on their plans.]

The military said Saripada's involvement in terrorist activities started as early as 2002.

“He served as a financial and personnel facilitator, including foreign terrorist fighters, in Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, and Sulu," the Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command said in a press statement.

Last week, the PNP arrested a supposed Dawlah Islamiya recruiter identified as Ibrahim Abdullah Madrinan in Fairview, Quezon City.

Madrinan is also said to be connected to Sawadjaan.