Philippine officials plan to deport a Pakistani suspected of being a suicide bomber with links to Islamic State (IS) who allegedly was part of a plot to carry out attacks in southern Basilan province, immigration officials said Wednesday.
Waqar Ahmad, 36, was arrested Tuesday by joint operatives in southern Zamboanga City, where he worked at a relative’s store as a shopkeeper and collector, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement.
The Pakistani national is “suspected of being a suicide bomber and a member of the Dawlah Islamiya terrorist group,” the statement from the Bureau of Immigration said, using the local name for the IS extremist group.
The Pakistani’s arrest followed the weekend arrest in the Manila area of two suspected Filipino operatives with Dawlah Islamiyah. Police alleged the pair had taken part in the five-month siege of the southern city of Marawi by IS-linked militants in 2017.
Ahmad was to be expelled from the Philippines “for being an undesirable alien due to his alleged terrorist links and for working in the country without a permit,” Morente said.
The Pakistani had arrived in the country last month and was under surveillance, officials said.
“He will be deported as his presence here is inimical to national security,” Morente said, but did not divulge other details, only that Ahmad had already been blacklisted.
The immigration commissioner cited “international intelligence reports” indicating that the Pakistani was also believed to have links with the Maute terrorist organization which helped IS Filipino leader Isnilon Hapilon launch the militant takeover of Marawi in May 2017.
Hapilon, who also was a leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group, a militant group that operates in the south, was killed in October 2017, toward the end of a battle with government forces in Marawi.
“The same [intelligence] reports alleged that he was set to meet with a ranking leader of the Abu Sayyaf group in Basilan in order to plan and carry out suicide bombings in the province,” Morente said, referring to Ahmad.
Philippine authorities suspect that Daulah Islamiya was behind a bombing that injured 18 people at a restaurant in Sultan Kudarat, another province in the south, in early April.