Troops ordered to brace for retaliatory attacks from Abu Sayyaf

    The aftermath of the twin Jolo bombings. (KARL NORMAN ALONZO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

    ARMED Forces chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay has ordered government troops to intensify operations against the Abu Sayyaf to prevent any attack that may be launched by the terrorist group in retaliation for the arrest of a female Indonesian suicide bomber and the wives of two of its members in Sulu on Saturday.

    “That is always their default in cases like this, to retaliate,” AFP spokesman Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo in a radio interview yesterday, referring to the Abu Sayyaf which is blamed for bombings and other atrocities like kidnapping and beheading of its captives.

    Arevalo said Gapay ordered intensified operations “because we don’t want to give them the opportunity to plan (retaliatory attacks) and execute the plan.”

    Arevalo said the military is coordinating with the PNP, intelligence and security agencies, local government units, and the public to get Abu Sayyaf members and prevent terrorist attacks.

    On Saturday, government troops arrested Indonesian suicide bomber Rezky Fantasya Rullie alias Cici, 17, during a raid on a house in Patikul, Sulu. Arrested with Rullie were Inda Nurhaina, wife of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Ben Tatoo, and Fatima Sandra Jimlani, wife of Abu Sayyaf member Jahid Jam.

    Rullie, who is pregnant, is the widow of Indonesian terrorist Andi Baso who was slain by government soldiers in a firefight in Patikul on August 29. She is also the daughter of an Indonesian couple who blew themselves up in the suicide bombing attack at the Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu on January 27 last year. The attack left 21 victims dead and over a hundred others injured.

    During the raid, troops recovered a suicide vest rigged with pipe bombs and other improvised explosive devices.

    Arevalo said Rullie was planning a suicide bombing in Zamboanga City to be carried out after she delivers her child.

    Arevalo also said Rullie’s arrest is a “significant” accomplishment because “we preempted the suicide bombing due to be perpetrated by alias Cici.”

    “Based on intelligence reports, she was planning a suicide attack in Zamboanga City… She volunteered to conduct the suicide bombing after she gives birth,” said Arevalo.

    Officials could not say when Rullie is expected to deliver but Maj. Alaric delos Santos, spokesman of the AFP Western Mindanao Command, said it could be soon based on her enlarged belly.

    Delos Santos gave a different location as to the target of the suicide bombing planned by Rullie. He said Sulu is the likely target of the group

    Delos Santos noted that the Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf members are having difficulty getting out of the island-province. “Basically, their capability is limited in Sulu,” he said.

    The Bureau of Immigration said Rullie is a “high-value target.”

    “A deportation case has been recommended to be filed against against Rezky Fantasya Rullie alias Cici for terrorism, being an illegal entrant, and for undesirability, aside from the criminal charges,” said Melody Gonzales, chief of the BI’s Intelligence Mindanao Task Group. — With Ashzel Hachero