Gunman IS lone wolf or sore casino loser?
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - June 2, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines - The Islamic State insisted yesterday that one of its “fighters” carried out the attack on a Resorts World casino.

This was denied by the Philippine National Police. Civilian government officials also stressed that the attack was not an act of terrorism

Military intelligence officers are withholding comment.

Until last night, the identity of the gunman who torched a casino area at the Resorts World Manila (RWM) complex, leaving 38 people dead including the suspect, remained unknown.

Security and intelligence officials have launched their parallel verification on the gunman’s identity and possible links with terrorist groups. The gunman looked Caucasian, was about six feet tall and spoke English.

A security expert belied earlier claims by the police that the gunman was a “lone wolf,” or had acted alone.

“I don’t believe he was alone. I hope the police will not simply say case closed, plain robbery, not a terror attack. Please dig deeper,” said a former military official previously handling the country’s terrorism security concerns.

He also posed questions as to the capability of the supposed mentally deranged man in creating havoc in Resorts World until he finally died.

“A mentally deranged person came to RWM prepared. With gun and gasoline, transferred from floor to floor like a well-rehearsed killing machine. And the police called him a ‘gambling loser’,” the former official said.

National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director Chief Supt. Oscar Albayalde described the gunman as “mentally disturbed” and probably lost a lot of money to gambling.

“If he’s a terrorist, most probably he’s bringing with him tons of bombs… and most probably he could have shot everybody there with all his ammunition,” Albayalde told a press briefing at Malacañang yesterday. “He was full-packed. He was bringing with him an Armalite rifle. Why would he not shoot everybody there and then detonate himself?”

Albayalde maintained the incident was a police matter and that the gunman acted on his own.

While there were deaths, he said, “it doesn’t mean that his acts… can be attributed to terrorism. Because if he is really a terrorist and he will set himself on fire, he would rather detonate himself…  bringing tons or kilos of TNT on his body. Detonate himself and blast the whole hotel.”

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla also told the press briefing that the military has not monitored any threat in Metro Manila.

He agreed with Albayalde that the gunman could have acted alone without help from extremist groups.

“We guarantee and we assure our citizens in the National Capital Region that all your security forces are continuously working to ensure that we are free and safe from any kind of these threats,” Padilla said.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., however, was more cautious. He did not rule out the possibility of copycat groups or lone wolves initiating a terror attack in Metro Manila.

“We are not discounting the possibility of even a small-scale terror attack in Metro Manila. That’s why security forces had been on high alert. Let us be calm but at the same time be alert, ready to help our security forces,” Esperon said.

Esperon also appealed to the public to be more circumspect in dealing with the matter.

“Let us not be unwitting tools of terror by spreading false rumors, like claiming that Resorts World (incident) is terror-related. Such claims and announcements don’t help,” he said.

The SITE Intelligence Group, a US terrorism monitor, said an IS-linked Filipino operative who provides daily updates on the clashes in Marawi claimed “lone wolf soldiers” of the IS group were responsible for the attack.

An English message by the operative was distributed across several pro-IS Telegram chat groups, SITE said.

According to SITE, he wrote: “The lone wolf soldiers of Khilafah attack the heart of Kufar the city of Manila in Resort World.” – With Robertzon Ramirez, Ghio Ong, AP

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