Spanish ‘militant sympathizer’ arrested in the Philippines

Abdelhakim Labidi Adib, center, is escorted by Philippine soldiers as he arrives at the Department of Justice building in Manila on Wednesday, January 24. Labidi Adib was carrying grenades and bomb-making equipment at an army checkpoint on Basilan island. (AFP)
Updated 24 January 2018

Spanish ‘militant sympathizer’ arrested in the Philippines

MANILA: Troops in the southern Philippines have arrested a Spanish man carrying grenades and bomb-making equipment and suspected of supporting a notorious militant group, authorities said Wednesday.
Abdelhakim Labidi Adib, 20, who described himself as a tourist, was detained Monday at an army checkpoint on Basilan island, a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom group, they said.
The army said Labidi Adib, a Spanish citizen of Tunisian descent, was with a suspected Filipino member of the Abu Sayyaf who escaped.
“Labidi Adib is a known Abu Sayyaf sympathizer and ardent supporter of the establishment of (an) Islamic caliphate here in the Philippines,” Captain Exequel Panti, special forces commanding officer in Basilan, said in a sworn statement.
“He was arrested. He threw (away) his bag containing explosives while his companion jumped from a cliff,” Panti told reporters on Wednesday after flying the suspect to the justice ministry in Manila.
The Spaniard denied the military’s account.
Abu Sayyaf is infamous for kidnapping both locals and foreigners, and demanding ransoms of up to millions of dollars for their release.
Basilan has long been a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, which was founded in the 1990s with the help of Al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden.
Militants loyal to the Daesh group, including Abu Sayyaf members, attacked the southern city of Marawi in May last year in what authorities said was part of a campaign to establish a Southeast Asian caliphate for Daesh.
The Marawi siege lasted for five months and left more than 1,100 people dead and half the city in ruins.
Authorities said Labidi Adib arrived in the Philippines in October 2017, about the time the Marawi siege ended.
He had previously traveled to Morocco and Tunisia, said senior state prosecutor Peter Ong, citing information on his passport.
Labidi Adib, who on Wednesday sported a jacket and shaved head, told state prosecutors he was in the Philippines on vacation and had come from “the jungle” of Basilan before his arrest.
But he repeatedly refused to answer questions about what he was doing in an island avoided by tourists over the kidnapping threat.
Prosecutors said they were studying whether to charge him in court.


Minneapolis braces for more riots, arson following police killing of Afro-American George Floyd

Updated 30 May 2020

Minneapolis braces for more riots, arson following police killing of Afro-American George Floyd

CHICAGO: Minneapolis exploded into riots and arson this week after an African-American suspected of handling counterfeit money was killed on Monday during his arrest by two city police officers.

Videos on social media showed an officer placing his knee on George Floyd’s neck as he was handcuffed and being restrained on the street by the kerb. The 46-year-old said that he could not breathe, but police insisted that Floyd was “resisting arrest” and had to be forcibly restrained.

The officer who was seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck was arrested on Friday and charged with murder.

Floyd was pronounced dead at the scene and his family immediately called for an independent probe.

His family turned to civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who said the family’s first concern was to seek an autopsy independent of the police because of a lack of trust in law enforcement and to give their deceased family member a proper funeral.

“Is it two justice systems in America?” Crump said as he addressed the media. “One for black America and one for white America? We can’t have that. We have to have equal justice for the United States of America and that’s what I think the protesters are crying out for.”

Protests spread across the country and turned violent as arson destroyed property, including the police station where the police officers were assigned.

President Donald Trump denounced the rioters as “thugs” and warned that he might send in the military “to take control.” 

Minneapolis Police handed the investigation into Floyd’s death to the FBI and US Justice Department on Thursday night. Officials from the FBI and US Justice Department promised that the probe would be “robust and meticulous.”

The media’s role in the protests came sharply into focus when, early on Friday, CNN’s Omar Jimenez was arrested along with his TV crew.

CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota, who looked on as her colleague was being arrested, told viewers: “If you are just tuning in you are watching our correspondent Omar Jimenez being arrested by state police in Minnesota. We are not sure why our correspondent is being arrested.”