Sulu residents led cops to lair of woman tagged as 'terrorist'

John Unson - Philstar.com
Sulu residents led cops to lair of woman tagged as 'terrorist'
Myrna Ajilul Mabanza did not resist arrest when policemen and soldiers arrived at her hideout and served her the warrants for her arrest.
Photo courtesy of Philstar.com / John Unson

COTABATO CITY — The support of Muslim clerics in Sulu helped government operatives arrest the most wanted terrorist in the Bangsamoro region, linked to transnational terror groups. 

The director of the Bangsamoro regional police, Brig. Gen. Allan Nobleza, and Lt. Gen. Roy Galido, commander of the Philippine Army, separately told reporters on Friday that they are grateful to Sulu’s Islamic religious community and local executives for leading state security operatives to the hideout of the 32-year-old Myrna Ajilul Mabanza in Barangay Pasil in Indanan. She was arrested Barangay Pasil in Indanan town in the province on Thursday.

Nobleza said the administration of Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan also helped locate Mabanza in Indanan, now a markedly peaceful town, long cleared from presence of Abu Sayyaf terrorists via joint peace initiatives of PRO-BAR, municipal and provincial officials and the military’s Western Mindanao Command.

Police officials in Sulu reported to PRO-BAR late Thursday that Tausug community elders and religious leaders had confirmed that Mabanza, a former teacher, had functioned years before as a conduit for funds from abroad for the now virtually inactive Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu.

More than 500 Abu Sayyaf members in Sulu had surrendered in batches via local government units in the province since 2016, all reintegrated into mainstream society.

“To all the civilians who helped work out the arrest of Mabanza, we are thankful,” Galido told reporters on Friday morning via text message.

Mabanza is an elder sister of Omar, implicated in deadly bombings in Sulu and was arrested on Feb. 17, 2023 by a combined police and Army team in Sitio Sapa Dulian in Barangay Calabasa in Zamboanga City.

Nobleza said they have tightened security in areas in the Bangsamoro region where there are few remaining members of the Dawlah Islamiya in anticipation of possible “sympathy attacks” for the arrest of Mabanza in Sulu.

Mabanza was charged for the violation of the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 and the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 in a court in Zamboanga City that issued warrants for her arrest that Army and police officials served her in Barangay Pasil last Thursday.

Mabanza voluntarily yielded when agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, personnel of intelligence units from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and officials of different PRO-BAR units arrived at her hideout and showed her copies of the warrants for her arrest.

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