Fake ID: ‘Malaysian’ barred from entering Philippines turns out to be wanted Abu Sayyaf member

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KOTA KINABALU: The case of a ‘Malaysian’ man, who was barred from entering Manila for terrorism links, has taken a turn as Filipino investigators find he was a member of the notorious militant group Abu Sayyaf.

The man, who flew from Kuala Lumpur to Manila on a Malaysian passport, was not only linked to Jemaah Islamiah activities but was also a wanted Abu Sayyaf member involved in kidnappings linked to Abu Sayyaf’s commander , Radulan Sahiron.

The 53-year-old man who was called ‘Omar bin Harun’ on his Malaysian passport was apparently a Filipino by the name of [email protected], who was on the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ Terrorism Screening Center list, according to Filipino officials. . .

He had traveled to Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport with his wife and two children on a Philippines Airlines flight departing Kuala Lumpur around 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday May 10.

Initially, he was barred from entering the Philippines by immigration authorities, but investigations revealed that he was a Filipino involved in the siege of Lamitan City in the southern Philippines in 2001, as well than in several abductions.

On Friday May 13, the director of the Southern Philippines Police District (SPD), Brigadier General Jimili Macaraeg, said the suspect was arrested after discovering he was a Filipino citizen who had used a Malaysian passport to conceal his true identity.

He said a witness, who was also the victim of an abduction in August 2002, positively identified Airola through a photograph as one of his Abu Sayyaf captors.

“We are conducting a thorough investigation and intelligence gathering to determine the reason for his (Harun) return to the country, given that he is a wanted fugitive from the law,” he said.

Regional intelligence sources also said he was on the terrorist list for his involvement in facilitating five Malaysians linked to Jemaah Islamiah activities involved in the failed siege of Marawi in 2017.

The source said Philippine police and intelligence believed Harun acted as an enabler for Dr Mahmud Ahmad, who was killed in the Siege of Marawi.

The source also revealed that Harun told Filipino investigators that he entered Sabah in 1983 using the Sandakan backdoor with the help of his brother.

Harun told Filipino investigators that upon entering Sabah, he then obtained a Malaysian birth certificate. He then applied for Malaysian citizenship, which was granted in 2008, the source said.

Harun’s wife and children initially stayed in Lamitan town, but he later smuggled his children to Sabah.

Harun also has a second wife living in Pandan, Selangor, and an ex-wife living in Dubai, the source said, adding that he traveled to Dubai and the Philippines using his Malaysian passport.

The source said Harun’s last trip to Manila was in January 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown and his current trip was to Basilan for his wife’s medical treatment.

The source said Harun refused to admit he was a member of Abu Sayyaf during interrogations, but witnesses identified him as one of the kidnappers.

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