Local terrorist escorted alleged Indonesian suicide bombers inside cathedral: PNP
Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Oscar Albayalde said a member of a terrorist group escorted the two alleged Indonesian suicide bombers responsible for the Jolo cathedral blast which resulted to 22 people killed and 101 wounded.
Kammah Pae or alias Kamah surrendered to the authorities and denied his involvement, but the other surrenderees said he had a role to play.
“I think he is not admitting anything but his comrades, they are pinpointing to him as the one who escorted the couple and at his house we were able to recover an IED (improvised explosive device) and IED components,” Albayalde said in a press conference in Camp Crame on Tuesday.
The PNP chief said Kamah admitted being a member of the Ajang-ajang which is affiliated to the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Albayalde said Kamah, Albaji Kisae Gadjali or alias Awag, Radjan Bakil Gadjali, Kaisar Gadjali alias Isal and Salit Alih alias Papong surrendered to the authorities over the weekend due to the massive hot pursuit operations by troops.
“What happened is forced surrender because of the massive operation being conducted continuously,” he said.
All are under the custody of the PNP and Special Investigation Task Group Sulu.
A case of 23 counts of murder, 95 counts of multiple frustrated murder and damage to property were filed against them and seven others including Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, said to be mastermind and Usman Absara.
Albayalde said on January 14, an Asian couple sailed to Jolo by pump boat and was met by the other surrenderees, who were Awag; Radjan, and Papong upon arriving at a gasoline in Tiam.
The couple went to the residence of Usman before going to Sitio Bastion in Patikul, Sulu.
“(They were) Escorted by Kamah and and Barak (Ingug) where they met (Hatib Hajan) Sawadjaan to further plan the bombing,” he said.
Present in the planning were Barak, Kammah, Awag, Usman, Makrim, Isral, Radjan and Papong.
A day before the blasts, the couple with their black trolley bags were escorted to Barangay Latih, Patikul by Usman, Barak and nine still unidentified armed men boarded Awag’s jeepney to Jolo.
It is believed that around 8:28 am of January 27, the Indonesian woman detonated the first IED inside the Jolo cathedral while the man detonated the second one at the church entrance seconds later, Albayalde said.
“It appears that the couple were Indonesians because of the witnesses accounts that these couple does not know how to speak Tausug and their language, based on our intelligence information is Malay Indonesian. That’s why they assume that they are Indonesians,” said Albayalde.
According to their sources, the man was in Mindanao for almost a year while the woman arrived a few days before the incident.
‘Based on our intelligence gathering that is really his job, suicide bombing and they take the opportunity. That is his purpose,” he added.
The identity of the two suicide bombers has yet to be identified as the authorities are conducting DNA examination on the body parts they recovered from the blast site.
It was reported that the bomb was placed inside an ecobag but Albayalde said it is still a suicide bombing since they might be the ones who detonated it or someone did it for them.
He added the couple had no intention of escaping.
“Our impression of it when we say suicide bomber is they are wearing a vest that’s what we see on TV. This one, it appears that is placed in an ecobag but again it is still suicide (bomber) because the person died inside. Either they are the ones who detonated it or somebody detonated it for her,” Albayalde explained.
“Otherwise, if the intention is to escape, she should left it and ran. That will create panic and get attention from the church worshippers inside,” he added.
Meanwhile, security forces are looking for Sawadjaan, who replaced Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon.
He reiterated that the blasts have nothing to do with the Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite conducted few days before that. It is a plain terror attack planned for almost a year, Albayalde added.
Security forces have to validate if there are still foreign terrorists in Mindanao.
"As of now, we have not monitored any other suicide bombers," said Albayalde. Ella Dionisio/DMS