Kenyan terror suspect arrested in Zambales was training to be pilot

Kenyan terror suspect
Kenyan Cholo Abdi Abdullah was learning to be a pilot at an aviation school in Iba, Zambales.

A Kenyan man suspected of belonging to an Al-Qaeda affiliated terror group has been arrested at a hotel in Iba, Zambales. 

Cholo Abdi Abdullah, an alleged member of the Al Shabaab Group, was arrested during a raid by police, the Army and foreign agencies at 3.30pm yesterday (Monday, July 1)  

Major General Amador Corpus, director of the police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said Al Shabaab pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda in 2012 and was most active in East Africa.

He added that following the suspect’s arrest, a 9mm pistol with a loaded magazine, an improvised explosive device, a hand grenade, and other bomb making components were found in the hotel room.

Maj. Gen. Corpus said Abdullah was studying to be a pilot at an aviation academy in Pasay City. It is also alleged that he was conducting research on “aviation threats, aircraft hijacking and falsifying travel documents”.

Police are continuing to investigate whether the suspect’s enrolment in the school was in preparation for a terror attack. “We are still investigating as to why he enrolled at All Asia Aviation Academy that is based in Pasay. They have a flight instruction school in Iba, Zambales. The suspect has been staying since 2017 in Iba, Zambales.”

The operation against the suspect was launched after police received intelligence about him from unnamed “foreign counterparts”.

“It was an urgent operation considering he was described by our foreign counterparts as very dangerous,” Maj. Gen. Corpus said at a press briefing.

“The joint team requested the CIDG for the application of a corresponding search warrant to search the hotel where the respondent was staying. The Kenyan national is identified with the Al-Qaeda. So he pledged allegiance to the Al-Qaeda group since 2012 and he has been wanted for a long time. It so happened that he was last located in the Philippines that’s why the foreign counterparts coordinated with the and AFP for the immediate arrest of this Kenyan national.”

He added that, so far, the police had not found any direct evidence that the suspect was planning to launch a terror attack in the Philippines.

Abdullah is now detained by the CIDG and will be facing charges for illegal possession of and explosives.

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