DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 01 November) – An Indonesian national believed to be member of the terror group that laid siege on Marawi City was arrested at 7 a.m. Wednesday in Barangay Loksadatu by members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT), Col. Romeo Brawner, Deputy Commander of Joint Task Force Ranao said.
Brawner said the Indonesian national, identified as Muhammad Ilham Syahputra, was turned over by the BPAT to the Marawi police.
Syahputra, 22, of Medan, North Sumatra, is one of seven Indonesians on the list of the Philippine military for their alleged participation in the Marawi siege. Syahputra was reported killed in June.
Senior Supt. John Guyguyon, Lanao del Sur police chief, said the Syahputra had no passport when arrested but he had ammunitions, a caliber .45 handgun, grenade, money, and improvised explosive devices.
Syahputra’s passport, however, was among several items recovered by the military during military operations in Piagapo, Lanao del Sur on April 21 to 23.
The operations led to the killing of some 30 Maute members, according to a press statement issued by the Western Mindanao Command. Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Westmincom chief
The press statement also said soldiers recovered an ISIS flag, rifle and fragmentation grenades, assorted bomb-making materials, a passport of an Indonesian national named Muhammad Ilham Syahputra, three motorcycles, two sacks of rice, a video camera, cellular phones and assorted camouflage uniforms.
In a statement, Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesperson of the Provincial Crisis Management Committee, said the arrest by a village defense force “validates the local government units’ position that civilian participation is essential in our collective effort to secure our communities from terrorist elements.”
“Crucial in our security effort to fully restore normalcy in the controlled area is to maintain vigilance by our residents,” Adiong said.
He added the need to “develop and strengthen” the civilian security plan as proposed by the Provincial Peace and Order Council of Lanao del Sur “to inspire further people’s initiative in order to compliment our state forces’ ongoing clearing operation down to the barangay level.”
According to kumparan.com, an Indonesian news portal, Syahputra left Medan in 2016 purportedly to work in Bandung, West Java.
A kumparan.com article on June 2 said Syahputra was “a quiet person” who spent his time reading the Qur’an and was often asked to be a muezzin in the mosque near his sister’s house. A muezzin calls Muslims to prayer from the minaret of a mosque.
The report said Ilham worked in Malaysia for two years from 2014, in an airport cargo company. But he communicated with his sister regularly and even sent photographs.
When he left in late 2016, communication was no longer as frequent and she did not know where her brother was working, the report said.
Syahputra’s arrest in Marawi came a day after a straggler was killed inside the main battle area.
His arrest also came nine days after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced on October 23 the termination of all combat operations in Marawi City exactly five months after it started.
President Rodrigo Duterte on October 17 declared in Marawi City that it has been “liberated from the terrorist influence.” (MindaNews)