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Kuwaiti, Syrian held in Manila for IS links
April 8, 2017, 8:21 am
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Kuwaiti Husayn al-Dharifi (R) and Syrian Rajaf Zina, suspected to have links to Islamic State, are presented to the media during a press conference at the National Bureau of Investigations headquarters in Manila, Philippines on Apr 6, 2017. - Reuters Photo

Philippine security forces arrested a Kuwaiti and a five-month pregnant Syrian for suspected links to Islamic State three months after they arrived, authorities said on Thursday. Kuwaiti Husayn Al-Dhafiri and Syrian Rajaf Zina had been living and working in Manila since January before they were arrested on March 25 in an upscale commercial district, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre told reporters.

The two, wearing orange prison uniforms, were paraded in front of journalists at the National Bureau of Investigation office where they were being held. Authorities said Al-Dhafiri would be deported to Kuwait where he is suspected of bomb plots. Zina would be deported to Qatar, from where she last came. The two were not available for comment. “We are only speculating why they are in the Philippines,” Aguirre said after immigration authorities said the two had travelled to Davao in the south and Cebu in the central Philippines.

Aguirre said they had relied heavily on information from foreign allies to detect the presence of suspected Islamic State militants. They first came to the Philippines last year on tourist visas but returned in January on working visas after a Kuwaiti manpower agency hired them, immigration authorities said.

Intelligence reports from the Armed Forces of the Philippines showed that Al-Dhafiri has been involved in explosives manufacturing and was possibly on “operational planning against Kuwait,” Aguirre said, reports ABS CBN News.

Al-Dhafiri “has links to terrorism and is believed to pose a threat to the national security of the Philippines,” Aguirre said, citing information from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He is known to have used aliases the aliases Warsh Al-Kuwaiti and Abu Muslim Al-Kuwaiti. Aguirre said the Bureau of Immigration’s Fugitive Search Unit (FSU) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines conducted the operations based on FBI intelligence.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente meanwhile said he has received reports that the two suspects traveled to Cebu and Davao in January this year, where they had stayed for three and four days respectively. He added that the two suspects made “many” trips to the Philippines in 2016, and that the Kuwaiti government had cancelled Al-Dhafiri’s passport. Morente said the two suspects used the earlier mentioned names in their passports when they entered the Philippines. The names were not on a lookout bulletin at the time of their entry, Morente added.

The two suspects failed to present any immigration document during verification at the BI Main Office, Aguirre said. The justice chief said the two will be charged on the basis of immigration laws as they are not properly documented. Deportation procedures will then follow according to Aguirre. The female suspect was brought to a hospital following the arrest for medical examination as she claimed that she is pregnant.

Source: Agencies

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