A female suspected Indonesian suicide bomber and two others were arrested in Jolo, Sulu by government forces before dawn on Saturday, the military said.
The Indonesian suspect was identified as Nana Isirani or Rezky Fantasya Rullie, a.k.a. Cici, the Joint Task Force Sulu of the Philippine Army's Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said.
Also arrested were two other women: Nur-Aina Alihasan, a.k.a. Inda Nhur, said to be the wife of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Ben Quirino Yadah, a.k.a. Ben Tatoo, and Fatima Sandra Jimlani Jama, said to be the wife of Abu Sayyaf member Jahid Jam.
They were nabbed at 1:50 a.m. in Barangay San Raymundo at the house believed to be owned by Tatoo.
JTF Sulu personnel and elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit-Sulu made the arrest by virtue of a search warrant issued by the Regional Trial Court in Jolo. They were also assisted by the Bureau of Immigration.
“Based on the report submitted by Brig. Gen Gonzales, Rezky Fantasya Rullie, a.k.a Cici, an Indonesian national and her comrades were apprehended by virtue of a warrant to search a house at Sitio Kuppong, Barangay San Raymundo, Jolo, Sulu issued by the Regional Trial Court,” said WestMinCom commander Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan Jr.
Recovered from the suspects were an improvised explosive device vest rigged with two pipe bombs and other components, Vinluan said.
"It could have brought unimaginable death to many innocent civilians and destructions to their properties had these individuals not been arrested," Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Marine Major General Edgard Arevalo said in a statement.
The suspects have been detained at the CIDU of the Sulu Police Provincial Office for documentation and filing of appropriate charges.
JTF Sulu commander Brigadier General William Gonzales said Rullie was first on the list of foreign terrorist suicide bombers government forces were pursuing.
“We have been pursuing foreign terrorist suicide bombers in Sulu after the twin bombing of Jolo town last August 24, 2020. Rullie was first on our list since we have received intelligence reports that she is going to conduct suicide bombing after the death of his husband, Andi Baso, an Indonesian foreign terrorist who was reportedly neutralized during an encounter last August 29, 2020 with two (2) Scout Ranger Battalions under 1102nd Brigade in Patikul, Sulu,” Gonzales said.
He added that Rullie is believed to be the daughter of the Indonesian couple who were the suspects in the twin suicide bombing at the Jolo Cathedral in January 2019.
"The JTF Sulu under the direction of our WESTMINCOM Commander Lt Gen Corleto Vinluan Jr will never cease to hunt down these foreign terrorists, coddled by Mundi Sawadjaan and Radulan Sahiron," Gonzales said.
Arevalo on Saturday said Rullie is believed to be pregnant but volunteered to do the suicide bombing after giving birth to take revenge for her husband's death.
"Isa sa mga suspek ay asawa ng isang foreign terrorist fighter na may kinalaman sa suicide bombing na nangyari sa Jolo, Sulu. Ito po si alyas Cici isang foreigner, siya ay sinasabing nagdadalang tao. Siya ay nag-volunteer na magsagawa ng suicide bombing upang ipaghiganti ang pagkamatay ng kanyang asawa," Arevalo said in an interview on Dobol B sa News TV.
MGen. Arevalo: Siya ay nag-volunteer na magsagawa ng suicide bombing upang ipaghiganti ang pagkamatay ng kanyang asawa. https://t.co/Jl7zdrja0g— DZBB Super Radyo (@dzbb) October 10, 2020
"Given the relentless, focused military operations conducted under the directions of AFP Chief General Gilbert Gapay since last 24Aug suicide bombing in Jolo, the forces of this Dawlah Islamiya-affiliated group has been seriously degraded," Arevalo said in a statement.
Arevalo said five notorious Abu Sayyaf sub-leaders have already been killed, among them Samir Nani, a bomb maker killed on August 29; Arsibar Sawadjaan, a bomb maker and cousin of Mundi Sawadjaan who was killed on September 28; and Andi Baso, an Indonesian terrorist and husband of Rullie reportedly killed on August 29 in Patikul.
He also said 13 Abu Sayyaf members have surrendered with their firearms.
Gapay commended Gonzales and JTF Sulu for the successful operations against the terrorist group.
The AFP chief has ordered Vinluan to "decisively defeat" the Abu Sayyaf by December 2020.
Gapay also expressed the AFP's gratitude to residents and the local governments of Jolo, Patikul and Indanan among others for their support in the battle against terrorism.
Army chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana meanwhile said the arrest of the three persons on Saturday was a "manifestation that the Army and its subordinate units are now more capacitated to find, fix, fight, and finish the enemy. We will continue to support our troops on the ground as they go after these threats and keep our communities safe."
At least 15 people were killed and dozens were injured when twin explosions occurred in Jolo on August 24.
The fatalities included a female suicide bomber, six civilians, seven soldiers and a policeman.
The military said the Jolo blasts were perpetrated by Mundi Sawadjaan who is related to the Abu Sayyaf.
In August, the WestMinCom said four Indonesian women who might carry out suicide bomb attacks in the country remain free in Mindanao.
“May apat na Indonesians kasi na nandito pa. ‘Yung anak ng suicide bombers, ‘yung couple na nag-suicide bombing no’ng last year January,” Vinluan said.
The four women are with the Abu Sayyaf Group led by Sawadjaan, he added.
In June, four soldiers who were trailing suicide bombing suspects were killed in a shooting incident with policemen in Barangay Walled City, Jolo, Sulu. —KG, GMA News