THE US Statement Department yesterday classified Abu Sayyaf leader and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-Philippines emir Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, along with 11 other foreign terrorist leaders, as global terrorists.
“Today’s actions seek to deny these terrorists the resources to plan and carry out attacks,” the US State Department said in a statement on its website.
“All of their property and interests in property subject to US jurisdiction are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them,” the statement added.
The US State Department classified Hurras al-Din in, a group that emerged last year in Syria, as Specially Designated Global Terrorist. It described the group as affiliated with the al-Qa`ida (al-Qaeda) network.
“The Department has also designated as SDGTs 12 leaders of previously designated groups, including Hizballah, HAMAS, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, ISIS, ISIS-Philippines, ISIS-West Africa, and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan,” it said.
“In addition to these actions, the Department of the Treasury has designated 15 terrorists affiliated with ISIS, ISIS-Philippines, ISIS-Khorasan, al-Qa’ida, HAMAS, and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force under the same authority,” it also said.
The US State Department identified Sawadjaan as the “mastermind” behind the January 27 suicide bombings at the Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu that killed 23 people, including the Indonesian couple that carried out the attack, and wounded 109 others.
Last February, the US Department of National Defense said Sawadjaan has taken over as the emir of ISIS-Philippines. This was later confirmed by Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano.
The Philippine military has also linked Sawadjaan to two more suicide bombings in the country – last Sunday’s attack at a detachment of the Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion in Indanan, Sulu and last June’s attack at the headquarters of the Army’s 1st Brigade Combat Team also in Indanan.
Only the bomber, described as a Caucasian-looking female, was killed in last Sunday’s attack. Soldiers managed to take cover before the explosion, suspicious of the woman’s unusually large belly where the bomb was hidden.
The suicide bombing at the 1st BCT headquarters claimed the lives of the two bombers, including Abu Sayyaf member Norman Lasuca; three soldiers and two civilians.
A fourth suicide bombing occurred in June last year near a detachment of the Army’s 9th Scout Ranger Company. It killed the Moroccan bomber, five militiamen, four civilians, and a soldier.
The 11 other foreign terrorist leaders designated by the US State Department as SDGTs were Noor Wali, of the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan; Marwan Issa of the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades; Muhammad al-Hindi of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad; Baha’ Abu al-‘Ata, of the Gaza and North Battalion in the Al-Quds Brigade; Ali Karaki, Muhammad Haydar, Fu’ad Shukr, and Ibrahim ‘Aqil, all of the Hizballah Jihad Council; Hajji Taysir of ISIS, , an ISIS leader; Abu Abdullah ibn Umar al-Barnawi, the emir of ISIS-West Africa; and Faruq al-Suri, of the Hurras al-Din.
“Terrorist designations expose and isolate organizations and individuals, and deny them access to the US financial system. Moreover, designations can assist the law enforcement activities of U.S. agencies and other governments,” the US State Department said.
It vowed the administration of US President Donald Trump “will continue to aggressively use all levers of American power, including financial sanctions, to target terrorists who plot murderous operations to indiscriminately kill innocent civilians around the world, and those who enable, facilitate, and finance their heinous acts.”
AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said Sawadjaan is taking advantage of foreign terrorists in the country “to pursue his personal ends of becoming prominent or becoming recognized as the emir
“He needs the notoriety, the grim and gruesome murder and destruction to gain financial and logistics support from terrorist organizations abroad,” said Arevalo.
Earlier reports had it there are seven foreign terrorists in western Mindanao and 60 more are subject to validation.
SAWADJAAN’S BROD KILLED
A brother of Sawadjaan was killed in a firefight with government forces in Patikul town in Sulu before noon Tuesday, the military reported yesterday.
Maj. Arvin Encinas, spokesman of the Zamboanga City-based AFP Western Mindanao Command, identified the brother as Nanz Sawadjaan. Two soldiers injured in the firefight are recuperating at a military hospital in Jolo, in Sulu.
Encinas said troops from the Army’s 41st Infantry Battalion were on combat operation when they clashed with about 40 Abu Sayyaf men in Sitio Tubig Pansol, Barangay Langhub around 11:39 a.m. Tuesday.
“Heavy firefight ensued that lasted for 20 minutes, after which enemies scampered to different directions allowing the troops to overrun the enemy encampment that can accommodate at least 40 individuals,” said Encinas.