Philippine military says Abu Sayyaf leader still alive

A soldier stands guard in Marawi City. The Philippines has faced several terror threats in the past years. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 11 July 2020

Philippine military says Abu Sayyaf leader still alive

  • Sawadjaan, who heads the ASG faction affiliated with Daesh, has been tagged as the mastermind behind the suicide attacks on Sulu Island last year

MANILA: The Philippine military on Friday said that one of the senior leaders of the extremist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Mindanao is still alive.

Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lt. Gen. Cirilo Sobejana told foreign media that Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan was still “very active,” as he responded to questions about reports that Sawadjaan had died from gunshot wounds sustained during an encounter Monday with Army Scout Rangers on Sulu Island.
Westmincom spokesman Maj. Arvin Encinas told Arab News that Sawadjaan was still alive but seriously injured in the firefight that left five other Abu Sayyaf fighters dead.
Earlier reports quoted police as saying that Sawadjaan had succumbed to the wounds sustained during the 30-minute shootout with the military in the hinterlands of Patikul, Sulu. He was also reportedly buried by his followers and nephew, Mundi Sawadjaan.
Sawadjaan, who heads the ASG faction affiliated with Daesh, has been tagged as the mastermind behind the suicide attacks on Sulu Island last year.
The first attack on the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jolo town in Jan. 2019 killed 23 people, including an Indonesian couple who carried out the bombing, and wounded 109 others.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan is still ‘very active,’ said Lt. Gen. Cirilo Sobejana while responding to questions about reports that Sawadjaan had died from gunshot wounds sustained during an encounter Monday with Army Scout Rangers on Sulu island.

• Sawadjaan has been tagged as the mastermind behind the suicide attacks on Sulu island last year.

The second bombing, which targeted an army counterterrorism unit brigade in Indanan town, killed eight people and injured 22. It was also the first officially confirmed case of a suicide bombing carried out by a Filipino, identified as Norman Lasuca, in the Philippines.
Responding to a question on the engagement between Daesh and Islamist militant groups in Mindanao such as the ASG, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and the Daulah Islamiyah, Sobejana said there used to be a high intensity of engagement between local militant groups and Daesh.
“But this time, this has been reduced due to the killing of Abu Talha, one of the conduits,” Sobejana said, referring to Talha Jumsah’ alias Abu Talha, a Daesh-trained bomb expert who also served as a conduit for the global terror network and the ASG. Abu Talha was killed in a military operation in November last year.
“What is left right now is Hatib Hadjan Sawadjaan. While he is still very active, he is quite old,” Sobejana said.
Sawadjaan also oversaw the kidnapping of Arab News’ Asia bureau chief, Baker Atyani, in 2012 when he was working as a correspondent for Al-Arabiya.
The US has included Sawadjaan in its list of global terrorists. He was also tagged as the acting emir of Daesh in the Philippines.


Several German health offices hit by bomb threats

Police from the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia received a call claiming an imminent threat to a local health authority’s office. (File/AFP)
Updated 08 August 2020

Several German health offices hit by bomb threats

  • Germany has been grappling with a resurgent far-right, and has suffered a number of attacks at the hands of far-right terrorists.

BERLIN: Several bomb threats were made against health authorities across Germany overnight, police said Saturday, although searches have so far not turned up any suspicious items.
The offices of the local health authority in Olpe in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia had to be temporarily evacuated late Friday after receiving such a threat.
The all-clear was given after a search by police officers and sniffer dogs.
Likewise, health authorities in the city of Cologne also received a threatening telephone call, although police said they did not deem it to be serious.
Separately in the Bavaria town of Ansbach, several residential homes were evacuated overnight after police received a call claiming an imminent threat to the local health authority’s office.
In July, several district courts were evacuated in Germany after they received bomb threats.
Nothing concrete have been found in searches and no arrests have been made.
The trial of a man accused of sending over 100 far-right letters to politicians, journalists and officials between October 2018 and April 2019 is ongoing.
The threats had prompted evacuations, including of the main train station in Luebeck and a tax office in Gelsenkirchen.