Philippine Military Rescue Teen Daughter of Indonesian Suicide Bombers

BenarNews staff
Zamboanga City, Philippines
Philippine Military Rescue Teen Daughter of Indonesian Suicide Bombers Police investigators and soldiers search the scene outside a Catholic cathedral following a twin suicide bombing in Jolo, southern Philippines, Jan. 27, 2019.

The Philippine military said Thursday that its forces rescued the 13-year-old daughter of an Indonesian couple responsible for a suicide bombing at a church in the south in 2019, and killed a suspected Abu Sayyaf militant during a counter-militancy raid.  

Combined forces from the 45th Infantry Battalion and police launched the operation Wednesday night to arrest Abu Sayyaf member Rudymar Habib Jihiiran (alias Gulam) in Patikul, a town on southern Jolo Island, said Maj. Gen. William Gonzales, head of local military forces.

“The security forces were supposed to serve a warrant of arrest against Gulam when he and his comrade fired at our forces,” Gonzales said in a statement.

A brief firefight ensued, allowing Gulam and two other militants to escape, Gonzales said, adding that an alleged Abu Sayyaf member identified only as Sawi was killed.

Troops recovered bomb-making paraphernalia after the raid, according to commanding officer Lt. Col. Vicente Mabborang.

In addition, troops rescued Sitti Aisyah Rullie, 13, who apparently was married to a militant, Gonzales said.

“She is an Indonesian who is being indoctrinated in conducting bombings and also the wife of Jihiiran,” Gonzales said.

Mabborang, meanwhile, identified her as a daughter of militants Rullie Rian Zeke and Ulfah Handayani Saleh, who were identified as the bombers of the Jolo cathedral. The Indonesian couple, who had been indoctrinated by Abu Sayyaf bomber Mundi Sawadjaan, killed 21 people and themselves in in a twin suicide bombing in January 2019.

Sawadjaan is the nephew of Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, the Philippine commander of the Islamic State. The military has said that the elder Sawadjaan might have been killed in a July 2020 clash in Jolo, but his body has not been recovered.

Sitti Aisyah Rullie’s older sister, Rezky Fantasya Rullie, allegedly had planned a suicide attack but was arrested during an October 2020 raid in Jolo, the military said.

Officials, meanwhile, said the military had coordinated with relevant agencies about the young girl.

“Still, we in the security sector have no choice but to coordinate with concerned agencies and act on this. She is married to a full-fledged Abu Sayyaf Group member, her older brother is an armed member under the Daulah Islamiyah group, and per intel reports, she is being groomed as a suicide bomber. There is a risk here,” Gonzales said.

“We sincerely hope that she could be de-radicalized and have another chance at a decent life. Involving children in this kind of terroristic act is outright shameful and a clear violation of our existing laws,” he said.

The Indonesian Embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to BenarNews requests for comment.

The military in Sulu has said two suspects remain of the seven known foreign militants that had been operating in the island province, Gonzales said. They were identified as the girl’s brother, Ahmad Ibrahim Rullie, and an Egyptian known only as Abdurahman. Both apparently are minors.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.