Civilian Police Staffer with Alleged Abu Sayyaf Links Arrested in Southern Philippines

BenarNews staff
Zamboanga, Philippines
2021-08-02
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Civilian Police Staffer with Alleged Abu Sayyaf Links Arrested in Southern Philippines Authorities present Masckur Adoh Patarasa of Sulu, a non-uniformed Philippine National Police staffer, after his arrest on terror-related charges, July 30, 2021.
Courtesy Philippine National Police

A brother-in-law of Isnilon Hapilon, the late Islamic State regional leader in the southern Philippines, was arrested on terrorism-related charges while working as a civilian police employee in the region, authorities said Monday.

Masckur Adoh Patarasa was employed as a non-uniformed police staffer at the Banguingui Municipal Police Station in Sulu province. He was taken into custody on Friday, national police chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said.

Patarasa “turned out to be a finance and logistics liaison officer for the Abu Sayyaf Group,” Eleazar said.

“We will also find out how Patarasa got into the PNP with all the arrest warrants and cases he is facing in connection with his membership in the Abu Sayyaf,” Eleazar said, using an acronym for the Philippine National Police.

“He was included in the Martial Law Arrest Order No. 1 during the Marawi siege in 2017,” said Eleazar who identified the suspect as “Hapilon’s brother-in-law.”

The suspect also has arrest warrants for seven cases of kidnapping as a member of the Abu Sayyaf, he said. 

“Patarasa, it was discovered, has been a member of the Abu Sayyaf since 2001,” Eleazar said, adding that the police internal affairs service had been ordered to dismiss the suspect.

It was not immediately clear if Patarasa saw action in Marawi, or what his specific role was during the five-month siege of the southern Philippine city by pro-IS militants four years ago, Ear said.

“We are continuing to investigate NUP Patarasa to determine if there are other PNP personnel involved with the Abu Sayyaf,” the police chief said, referring to non-uniformed personnel.

“The possibility is not far-fetched that he has other accomplices inside, that is why our investigation is continuing,” Eleazar said.

Military officials confirmed the arrest but declined to comment on what they referred to as an ongoing police matter.

This was not the first time that Abu Sayyaf militants had infiltrated the police ranks. In 2017, a police colonel, Maria Cristina Nobleza, was arrested on charges that she helped Renierlo Dongon, an Abu Sayyaf militant, elude capture.

IS leader

Hapilon, an Abu Sayyaf faction chief, led hundreds of local militants and others from Southeast Asia and the Middle East in laying siege to Marawi city in May 2017 in an effort to transform the lakeshore city into an IS “wilayat,” or administrative capital in the region.

The battle lasted for five months before the militants were defeated with help from American and Australian intelligence officers. Hapilon as well as siege key planners and leaders were killed during the fighting.

Eleazar said Patarasa also was associated with Amin Baco, a militant from Sabah, Malaysia, who fought in Marawi. Philippine authorities said Baco was among those killed, although intelligence officials in Sabah placed him on its list of wanted terrorists in 2018.

“Patarasa was also found out to have received funds from Almaida Marani Salvin who is under the U.S. Treasury list of terrorist personalities,” Eleazar said.

Salvin was arrested in Zamboanga City, also in the southern Philippines, in April 2019 for allegedly possessing explosives.

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