Philippine police have arrested a man in the Manila area who allegedly recruited fighters for the local branch of the extremist group known as Islamic State, the country’s top cop said Monday.
The suspect, Kevin Madriñan, did not resist arrest when officers raided his hideout in Quezon City on Thursday. Madriñan also goes by the names Ibrahim Abdullah Madriñan and Ibrahim Khalil Al-Garaba, national police chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan told reporters.
Arresting officers seized a handgun, a grenade and cash from the suspect, Cascolan said.
“Background investigation revealed that Madriñan is a Muslim convert who is the contact person and liaison in Luzon of Daulah Islamiyah members,” Cascolan said. The Daulah Islamiyah is the local name for the Islamic State (IS).
“He is responsible for the recruitment of Muslim converts and facilitating their travel to Mindanao for training and jihad exposure,” the chief said.
Investigators allege Madriñan received orders directly from Abu Turaife, the leader of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a militant group that operates in the southern Philippines. It is a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, once the country’s largest separatist group that signed a peace deal with Manila and controls a Muslim autonomous region in southern Mindanao Island.
Turaife, who leads a few dozen followers, broke away from the MILF’s chain-of-command after accusing the leaders of selling out when they dropped their independence bid.
A day after Madriñan’s arrest, suspected BIFF militants detonated a homemade bomb along a road in the southern Maguindanao province, killing a Marine and injuring four others.
Lt. Col. Anhouvic Atilano, spokesman for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said members of Marine Battalion Landing Team-5 were on a truck patrolling the highway between Shariff Aguak and Datu Hoffer towns in Maguindanao when the bomb exploded Friday evening.
“It was a terrorist attack, a retaliation because we had an operation against them,” Atilano said.
Militants linked to IS were blamed for a siege in 2017 that led to a five-month battle with government forces and left the southern city of Marawi in ruins.
While about 1,200 militants, security forces and civilians were killed in the battle that ended on Oct. 23, 2017, authorities said those who escaped spread across Mindanao in the south and have set out to recruit Muslim fighters across the mainly Catholic country.
The IS-linked militants have been blamed for deadly attacks including the twin suicide bombings in Jolo last month that left 15 people dead and more than 70 injured.