An Iraqi bomb expert with links to Palestinian fundamentalist group Hamas has been arrested in Angeles City.
National police chief Ronald Dela Rosa announced the arrest of Taha Mohamed Al-Jabouri today (Monday, January 22).
The 64-year-old arrived in Manila from Istanbul, Turkey, on August 27 on a three-month visa, which has now expired.
The suspect’s presence in the country was reported to Philippine authorities by the Iraqi Embassy in Manila.
“The Iraqi Embassy described Al-Jabouri as a chemist with knowledge on explosives and is known to have close ties with militant extremist movements like Hamas in the Middle East,” General Dela Rosa said.
“On Saturday night, January 20, an information was received through our Barangay Information Network of the presence of a suspicious-looking person with Middle Eastern features, fitting the description and photographs provided by the Iraqi Embassy, in Barangay Malabanias.”
A few hours later, police officers spotted Al-Jabouri carrying a large black suitcase. He immediately identified himself using his passport and admitted his visa had expired.
During questioning, Al-Jabouri revealed that he served as a consultant for Hamas in Damascus, Syria, and moved to Istanbul, Turkey sometime in 2012. He also said that he had travelled to Manila to meet a Chinese business group that had hired him as a consultant.
The police are now coordinating with the Bureau of Immigration and the Iraqi Embassy for further disposition of Al-Jabouri.
General Dela Rosa said there was no evidence that Al-Jabouri had been involved in any terrorist activity since he arriving in the Philippines. However, he added that his presence was nonetheless suspicious because he did not coordinate with the Iraqi Embassy.
Investigations are being hampered because the suspect reportedly speaks very little English.