Police have arrested four women said to be wives of Abu Sayyaf leaders who allegedly took an active role in the terror group’s crimes.
Police today (Tuesday, April 6) said the women took care of financial transactions, helped procure guns and bomb parts and helped to smuggle foreign jihadists into the country.
The women were arrested in raids on houses in Zamboanga City where authorities seized two grenades, a bag of suspected ammonium nitrate and electrical parts that could be used in making bombs, a police spokesman said.
The women allegedly worked under Abu Sayyaf commander Hajan Sawadjaan. He remains the prime suspect in the bombing of Jolo Cathedral on Sulu Island. The twin blast killed 23 people during a Mass on January 27.
The attack by two suspected suicide bombers led to the latest military offensive against the Islamic State-affiliated Abu Sayyaf terror group.
“The women are the wives of Abu Sayyaf group leaders,” a police report said without identifying the husbands of the women. They “are being utilised by the group for their financial transactions, procurement and transportation of firearms and explosives and the facilitation of recruitment and travel of foreign fighters to the Philippines,” it said.
Sawadjaan is believed to be the overall leader of Abu Sayyaf, which is made up of a number of small armed groups scattered across the southern Philippines.
Police suspect he may be harbouring at least one more potential suicide attacker, an Arab militant, in his jungle encampment near Pitkul Town in Sulu.
The military has recorded some decisive victories over the terror group recently. As we reported last week, 12 militants were killed during a series of gun battles near Sawadjaan’s island lair.
Then, on Sunday, a DNA test confirmed that Abu Dhar, the Islamic State’s representative, or ’emir’, had been killed in Lanao del Sur last month.
The Abu Sayyaf, which has been blacklisted by the U.S. and Philippine governments for deadly bombings, ransom kidnappings and beheadings, is estimated to have 200-300 fighters. It has been weakened by battle losses and surrenders but remains a national security threat.
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