MANILA – A Jordanian man linked to Osama Bin Laden’s brother-in-law has been taken into Philippines government custody and is to be deported, the country’s Bureau of Immigration said on Thursday.
Mahmoud Afif Abdeljalil, 51, was detained on July 4 on Mindanao island, southern Philippines, and will be deported for illegal entry.
The Jordanian, who assumed a fictitious identity and used fake documents to reside in the country, was a “henchman” of Osama Bin Laden’s brother-in-law, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa – a Saudi businessman also linked to al-Qaeda who was killed in Madagascar in 2007, the immigration bureau said in a statement.
“We are going to deport him for being an illegal entrant as he has no record of arrival, after he was arrested and deported in 2003 for being an undesirable alien,” Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said.
Authorities have been monitoring his activities since August last year, when he and an Algerian man were flagged down at a military checkpoint in Mindanao’s Zamboanga city.
He was detained in the same city in July following a joint operation between immigration, military and police of Zamboanga.
During interrogation, Abdeljalil said he had returned to the Philippines in 2007 after being deported in 2003 due to the expiration of his visa and “involvement in clandestine terrorist activities as a Palestinian under the name Mahmood Afif,” the statement said.
Upon his arrest 16 years ago, authorities established that Abdeljalil was “the point man” in the Philippines for Khalifa in managing charity organizations that transferred money to al-Qaeda and local terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, which is currently linked to the Islamic State, it added.
Three years after his deportation, the Philippines’ central bank froze Khalifa’s accounts and financial assets to stop the funds being transferred to terror groups.
Even after Khalifa’s death in 2007, Abdeljalil continued to financially support Abu Sayyaf through several mosques and madrassas he built in the south, which received foreign funding from al-Qaeda, the statement said.
Abdeljalil’s arrest comes at a time when Philippine authorities are extremely vigilant in Muslim Mindanao, which is suspected of becoming a haven for more radicalized foreign terrorists who have fled the Middle East after the fall of the IS caliphate.
In the last year, there have been three suicide attacks in the region – not the typical modus operandi of local terror outfits such as Abu Sayyaf or the Maute Group – with most of them carried out by foreigners.
However, the last suicide attack in June on a military camp in Sulu province, was carried out by a Filipino, indicating radicalization of national terrorists.