Duterte warns of fresh terror threat in the Philippines

Debris flies in the air as Philippine Air Force fighter jets bomb suspected locations of militants in the southern city of Marawi on June 9, 2017. Months after "neutralizing" the Daesh-linked militants, the Philippines is again on alert over fresh terror threats in the south. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
Updated 18 January 2018

Duterte warns of fresh terror threat in the Philippines

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has warned of a fresh terror threat against his country.

“Maybe it’s good to anticipate that there’s going to be (a terror attack) in the coming days,” Duterte said in a speech this week, amid reports that an increasing number of foreign fighters are now in the Philippines.

“They’d like to blow up (places where) people converge: In airports, seaports, and parks, because of what happened in the Mindanao provinces,” Duterte added, referring to the defeat of Daesh-backed militants who laid siege to Marawi City in Mindanao for five months last year.

“As I have said, the threat remains,” the president continued, adding: “My advice to our security forces, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP (Philippine National Police), in this matter of security against terrorism, is that no quarter should be asked, and no quarter given.”

Earlier, Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana told the country’s elite special forces to prepare for a possible repeat of the Marawi siege in another city.

Lorenzana admitted authorities are looking into the reported entry of a number of foreign terrorists into the southern Philippines.

Mohaquer Iqbal, chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), had previously warned that the defeat of the Maute group in Marawi City does not mean the defeat of Daesh-oriented groups in Mindanao.

“Expect that they will surface once again,” he said.

Talking to Arab News, Iqbal reiterated his statement on the increasing number of foreign fighters in the southern Philippines.

“What has been validated by our side is that there is a continuous inflow of foreign elements that are suspected to be Daesh-connected individuals,” Iqbal said.

The army recently reported they have identified 48 foreign terrorists currently in the Philippines and told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that a number of terrorists had entered the southern Philippines posing as businessmen or tourists.

Iqbal confirmed that MILF’s intelligence backs up the army’s figures, saying, “We have around 90 percent validated (the presence of foreign terrorists). We have reliable reports to that effect.”

Some of those foreign terrorists arrived in the country after the Marawi siege ended in October, he said. Many arrived via the island provinces of Sulu and Basilan, and a number of them are “Caucasian-looking.”

Early this week, an article released by the Asian think tank Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) said that the deaths of Filipino militant leaders Isnilon Hapilon — the Daesh-designated emir in Southeast Asia — and Omarkhayam Maute, “have not fundamentally reduced or removed the jihadi threat in the region.”

The article said that there are still four “key leaders” of Southeast Asian extremists: Amin Baco, Bahrumsyah, Abu Turaifie and Bahrun Naim.”

Baco, a Malaysian born in Sabah who built his jihadi credentials fighting in Basilan and Sulu, was reported to have been killed during the Marawi siege. But, on Wednesday, Joint Task Force Sulu commander Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said the military was trying to verify information that, although wounded, Baco had managed to escape the Marawi siege and is now in Sulu with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

Iqbal said he has no information about Baco’s whereabouts, but that Toraife — commander of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) — has been regularly moving his location because of a series of military operations against his group.

“Recently he (Toraife) was in North Cotabato,” Iqbal claimed. “But he seems to have transferred from there already. They seem to be on the move constantly.”

However, Iqbal explained that Toraife and his group “are not a major threat at this point in time” as they lack the capacity to launch a major attack similar to the Maute Group’s siege of Marawi.


Power of good: Pakistani father trains daughters to be electricians in Karachi

Updated 01 October 2020

Power of good: Pakistani father trains daughters to be electricians in Karachi

  • Naseeb Jamal: If girls are to believe in themselves, they should not be confined to the home

KARACHI: At a small shop in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi, two young girls are bent over a workstation, repairing wires and battery chargers.

Despite all odds, Naseeb Jamal, an electrician for 20 years, has taught six of his eight daughters his craft to help them become self-reliant in the future.  

“When I had four daughters, it came to my mind: Why shouldn’t I give them an education?” Jamal, who moved to Karachi from the Tor Ghar area in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told Arab News. 

“I couldn’t give them that chance due to a shortage of financial resources, but I thought at least I could teach them skills.”

While two of Jamal’s younger daughters are still learning, four are already adept electricians and their father’s pride. 

“My daughters are making a name for themselves in society and for women in Pakistan,” he said. 

Jamal lives with his family near the spot where gunmen killed Abdul Waheed Khan, a social worker who ran a coeducational school in Qasba Colony, in 2013. Khan dreamed of bringing modern education to the slums of Karachi, whose many inhabitants, like Jamal, migrated there from northern Pakistan to escape militant violence and look for better job opportunities.

Those who challenge social taboos face opposition and receive little support, Jamal said. “Waheed Khan sacrificed his life for the sake of educating our children.”

Conservative neighbors and family members have opposed his attempts to empower his daughters.

“When you give your child a skill or education, some people in the family will oppose it. But you don’t need to give heed to them,” he said.

As a father, Jamal wants to at least give his daughters the chance to stand on their own feet, he said. 

Two of them are already married and happy, he said, which he attributes in part to their empowering upbringing. “I will oversee the future of my children. I will give them skills and make them useful for the country and for themselves. It will give them confidence and make them stronger.”

The girls, who attended regular school before the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic shut down campuses across Pakistan, also help Jamal run his business.

“I do solar lamp installations, and when I am out of home or out of city, I don’t have to worry about the shop,” he said. “After coming back from school, they open the shop and even if I am away for three days, they take care of it, as well as the home.”

One of Jamal’s younger daughters, 10-year-old Javeriah, said she found the work “a little difficult” at first but has since gotten the hang of it. 

“I learned it from my father,” she said with a smile as she handed a repaired battery charger to a customer. “I fix lights, I fix speakers, and I can fix battery chargers.”

Jamal believes that girls should not be kept confined to their homes: “If you want girls to trust and believe in themselves, you have to bring them out of the home. And you have to trust them.”