MANILA/ISLAMABAD: The Philippine government has taken into custody a 51-year-old Jordanian man accused of having ties with Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law.
Mahmoud Afif Abdeljalil is also alleged to have provided funds to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), authorities said on Thursday.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that authorities are set to deport Abdeljalil, who has been in the government’s custody since his arrest on July 4 in Zamboanga City.
Abdeljalil is alleged to be the henchman of Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, who was also Bin Laden’s brother-in-law, and was killed in Madagascar in 2007, Morente said.
“We are going to deport him (Abdeljalil) for being an illegal entrant as he has no record of arrival, after he was arrested and deported in 2003 for being an undesirable alien,” Morente said.
However, sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jordan told Arab News that Philippine authorities had not contacted them yet. “Maybe because the case is still under investigation,” a source said.
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) in Manila said in a statement on Thursday: “When he was arrested 16 years ago, authorities said the Jordanian served as the point man of Mohammed Jamal Khalifa.” Back then, Abdeljalil managed several charity organizations in Mindanao that allegedly funneled money to Al-Qaeda and the ASG.
Three years after Abdeljalil’s deportation in 2003, the Philippines’ Central Bank froze Khalifa’s bank accounts and financial assets to prevent funds from being laundered to terrorist groups.
Authorities also alleged that “even after Khalifa was killed in 2007, Abdeljalil continued to extend financial support to the ASG using several mosques and religious seminaries as fronts — which he built in the southern Philippines — and which received Al-Qaeda’s funding from abroad.”
In the same year, Abdeljalil returned to the country allegedly under a pseudonym using fake documents that enabled him to live in the Philippines.
Authorities started monitoring the Jordanian’s activities after he and his Algerian companion were flagged at a military checkpoint in Zamboanga in August last year.
“After months of intensive surveillance and case buildup, it was confirmed that (Abdeljalil) has been unlawfully staying in the country,” said Morente, who issued the mission order that led to the Jordanian’s recent arrest.
Abdeljalil’s legal counsel, attorney Bongabong, has denied the immigration officials’ allegations against the Jordanian.
“Everything that is printed (about Abdeljalil) is not true,” he told Arab News. Bongabong declined to give any further details.
Abdeljalil’s family also expressed shock at his detention.
“My father was called by police for questioning and then he was arrested,” said his son Salah Abdeljalil. He said that Abdeljalil is well-known in Zamboanga City and has a good record and good relations with local officials.
“He is a businessman who is into construction, well known and respected and he has not left the Philippines for the past 14 years, and he is living legally in the country. So we are really surprised and shocked that all those allegations have been levelled against him by the police,” Salah said.
Meanwhile, a close friend of Abdeljalil, requesting anonymity, told Arab News that he was cleared by the Jordanian intelligence after Philippine authorities deported him to Jordan in 2003.
“He remained in Jordan but because his family is in the Philippines and because of the market condition in Jordan, he moved (back) to Philippines again after he got a visa from the Philippines embassy in Jordan and with the approval of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila,” said the friend who is based in Jordan.
Information obtained by Arab News shows that Abdeljalil is married to a Filipino, and his children are Filipino citizens. He is a contractor whose projects include development of subdivisions and construction of school buildings and mosques in Mindanao.