Policemen arrested last Sunday an Iraqi who has ties with foreign extremist groups in the Middle East and a self-confessed bomb and rocket expert.
Taha Mohamed Al-Jabouri, 64, was arrested by operatives of the National Police Intelligence Group (PNP-IG) at around 3 a.m. at Barangay Malabanias in Angeles City, Pampanga.
According to PNP chief Director General Ronald M. dela Rosa, Al-Jabouri traveled to the country at the heat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meetings last year, and his presence was relayed by the Iraqi Embassy in Manila.
“I would like to announce that we have taken into custody a 64-year-old Iraqi man who came to our country in August last year during the height of the 31st Asean Summit activities and has since evaded our radar after the Iraqi Embassy in Manila alerted the Philippine intelligence community of his presence,” dela Rosa said at a news briefing on Monday.
The PNP chief said the Iraqi Embassy described Al-Jabouri as a chemist with knowledge on explosives and is known to have close ties with militant extremist movements in the Middle East, including the Hamas.
The Hamas is a Palestinian Islamic militant group, and its military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has been considered as a terrorist group.
According to dela Rosa, the PNP received last Saturday, an information through its Barangay Information Network about the presence of a suspicious-looking person with Middle Eastern features at Barangay Malabanias.
He said the man fits the description and photographs provided by the Iraqi Embassy.
The tip-off prompted the IG to conduct follow-up operations and nab Al-Jabouri in the area, toting a large black luggage.
When asked about his identity, the Iraqi readily presented his Iraqi passport and identified himself.
Based on his travel documents, PNP investigators found out that Al-Jabouri’s 90-day Visa, valid only from August 10, 2017, to November 9, 2017, had already expired.
“During questioning, Al-Jabouri revealed that he served as a consultant for Hamas Organization in Damascus, Syria, and moved to Istanbul, Turkey, in 2012,” dela Rosa said.
“He [Al-Jabouri] also said that he traveled to Manila to meet a Chinese business group that hired him as a consultant,” the PNP chief added.
The Iraqi refused to identify the Chinese business group that supposedly hired him.
Al-Jabouri is currently with the PNP-IG while awaiting for his deportation.