Philippine police arrested a suspected member of a Filipino militant group with alleged links to the Islamic State and prevented what could have been another bomb attack in the southern Philippines, police said Wednesday.
The suspect, identified as Jomar Maan, 23, was arrested after police stormed his home Tuesday in the village of Bawing in the southern city of General Santos, city police chief Col. Alden Lagradante said.
Police seized “an improvised explosive device, a rifle grenade, a .38 revolver and an ISIS flag” from the suspect, said Lagradante, who identified the suspect as a bomber for the local group Ansar Khilafa Philippines (AKP), which is also called Ansar al-Khilafah Philippines or Ansarul Khilafa Philippines.
The AKP is a small homegrown network of Filipino militants in Mindanao, the country’s main southern island. Its leader, Mohammad Jaafar Maguid (alias Commander Tokboy), was slain in a clash with government forces in January 2017, although its members have remained active.
Security analysts say AKP has been involved in IS-style beheadings and in arms transfers to militants in Indonesia. Originally based in the southern province of Sarangani, AKP “may be the group with the closest links” to IS in Syria, according to a 2016 report of the Jakarta-based think tank Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict.
Last year, a bomb attack that injured eight people in General Santos was blamed on AKP.
Maan served as Maguid’s aide and personal cook, Lagradante said.
Police have filed charges of illegal possession of explosives and a firearm against Maan who is detained at a local police station.
Authorities had interrogated Maan to determine his involvement in recent terror attacks that occurred in the city and nearby areas, officials said.