MANILA – A 20-year-old Spanish national suspected of links to the Islamic State terror organization-affiliated Abu Sayyaf group has been arrested in the Philippines after police discovered explosives in the car he was traveling in, military officials said on Wednesday.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines detained Abdelhakim Labidi Adib on Monday night at a checkpoint on the island of Basilan, the bastion of Abu Sayyaf in the southern region of Mindanao.
Adib was traveling with an alleged member of the terror group who was wanted by authorities, although he managed to escape once the vehicle was stopped by the soldiers manning the checkpoint.
Inside the car, they discovered two hand grenades, two detonators, bomb-making material, a magazine for an M-16 rifle, as well as 8,500 pesos ($ 167) in cash, several forms of identification and personal effects, the spokesperson said.
Adib, whose passport shows he entered the Philippines in October, was transferred to the capital Manila where he will be questioned on his alleged links to Abu Sayyaf.
A source at the Spanish consulate in the Philippines told EFE that it has “taken on its role” of “assisting” the suspected terrorist “like with any other Spanish citizen,” without providing further details.
Abu Sayyaf, founded in 1991 in Basilan in southwest Mindanao, has been responsible for dozens of kidnappings and assassinations, including the decapitation of a German hostage in February 2017.
Mindanao has for decades been home to conflicts between the government and local terror groups, several of whom have pledged allegiance to Islamic State, such as the Maute rebels, Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).