MANILA: Philippine security forces have rescued the daughter of suicide bombers from the militant Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
The girl’s parents were Indonesian nationals 35-year-old Rullie Rian Zeke and his 32-year-old wife Ulfah Handayani Saleh. They were behind the Jan. 2019 attack on a cathedral in the southern island of Jolo that killed 23 people and wounded more than 100 others.
The girl, identified as Siti Aisyah Rullie, alias Maryam Israni, was recovered in a joint operation by military and police teams in Barangay Bangkal, Patikul, Sulu, shortly before midnight on Wednesday.
“She is estimated to be between 10 and 13 years of age,” Col. Alaric Delos Santos, Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, told Arab News. “There is ongoing coordination with the Department and Social Services, and even with Indonesian authorities, to determine what to do with her.”
Aisyah’s parents were members of the Indonesian Daesh-linked group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah and affiliates of the ASG.
The cathedral bombing was the first suicide attack in the Philippines to involve a woman.
Aisyah was reportedly married to ASG member Rudymar Habib Jihiiran, alias Gulam, and had been indoctrinated to become a suicide bomber like her parents.
According to the military, Jihiiran is a close aide of ASG leader Radullan Sahiron.
Army 11th Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. William Gonzales said law enforcers were trying to arrest him on multiple charges of murder, but that he had managed to flee with two other militants.
Troops found Aisyah at the house serving as the group’s hideout.
Lt. Jerrica Manongdo, JTF-Sulu spokesperson, said she might have been married off to Jihiiran to have a “guardian.”
“It is a practice among the Abu Sayyaf that when a female member of the family is left behind, regardless if she is still a minor, she will be wed to another ASG member for (the) purposes of having a guardian,” he told Arab News, adding that Aisyah’s elder brother, while also a minor, was already an armed member of the Daesh-inspired Daulah Islamiyah.
Her older sister Rezky Fantasya Rullie, alias Cici, has been imprisoned in the southern Philippines. She had reportedly planned to carry out a suicide attack to avenge the death of her husband Andi Baso, an Indonesian militant who was reportedly killed in a gunfight with Philippine forces in Sulu last year.
Another brother is believed to be either in jail or was killed while fighting for Daesh in Syria. He was the only member of the family believed to have crossed into Syria as they went to Turkey in 2016 with hopes of joining the group.
They were arrested by Turkish authorities in Jan. 2017 and sent back to Indonesia.
A year later, however, they made it to the southern Philippines and joined ASG commander Hajan Sawadjaan, who had reportedly taken over as the Daesh Philippine leader in 2017. Sawadjaan is believed to have been lethally wounded in an encounter with Philippine troops last year.