Alleged Maute group member nabbed in QC
Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - March 22, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Police arrested an alleged member of the Maute terrorist group and seized firearms and shabu at a house in Quezon City on Monday night.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa presented Nasip Ibrahim, 35, of Marawi City, to media yesterday.

Ibrahim was reportedly among the suspects in the failed bombing of the United States embassy in Manila in November last year.

Operatives of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) went to Salaam Compound in Barangay Culiat at past 9 p.m. to serve a search warrant on Jamil Baja Tawil, said to be a member of the Maute group.

Tawil was not home when authorities arrived.

Police said they recovered two .45-caliber pistols, a 9mm pistol, a submachine gun, an improvised explosive device with a 60mm mortar, bullets and seven packets of shabu during the operation.

Ibrahim denied that the firearms and drugs were his.

Ibrahim is facing charges of illegal possession of firearms, explosives and illegal drugs as well as obstruction of justice for concealing a wanted person, police said.

Following Ibrahim’s arrest, Dela Rosa said the Lanao del Sur-based terror group has established a presence in Metro Manila.

“As to what extent, that is the subject of our follow-up investigation and operations,” the PNP chief said.

Dela Rosa said he does not want the public to panic. But he urged Metro Manila residents to be vigilant.

“I’m asking the people to be alert yet remain calm,” he said.

National Capital Region Police Office chief Director Oscar Albayalde confirmed the presence of the Maute group in Metro Manila.

“They do have a cell that exists here,” he said.

Police said Ibrahim was the driver of the blue Toyota Revo used in the attempted bombing of the US embassy on Nov. 28, 2016.

Investigation showed that the group drove the vehicle to Metro Manila from Mindanao.

Days before the foiled bombing, Ibrahim reportedly met with his uncle and alleged Maute sub-leader, Isnadie Abraham and Rashid Kilala, who were captured in Bulacan in November last year.

Ibrahim allegedly coddled suspects facilitating their accomodations in Quezon City for the plot to bomb the US embassy.

Police have launched a manhunt for Yusof Macoto, an imam at the Tejeros mosque in Tanza, Cavite, said to be an ally of the Maute group.

“Based on the information that we received, Macoto is the mastermind of the foiled bombing,” QCPD director Chief Superintendent Guillermo Eleazar said.

AFP: No Maute terror cell in MM

Contrary to the PNP’s statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) denied the presence of the Islamic State-inspired Maute group in Metro Manila.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office, said the Maute group was not operating in the metropolis based on their intelligence and security monitoring.

“We have not monitored the presence of the Maute members here,” Arevalo said.

“But we must remain vigilant. Security is everybody’s concern. We should not let our guard down,” he added.

A senior anti-terror official said they were validating the PNP statement.

“The Maute group has no active members here. Sympathizers, maybe,” the official said. – With Jaime Laude

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