CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Security forces arrested a suspected ISIS bomber following a raid Thursday on a hideout in Cagayan de Oro City in southern Philippines, officials said.
Officials said Mohammad Noaim Maute, alias Abu Jadid, initially denied he was the same person and passed himself off as a student and even showed an identification card from Mindanao State University bearing his photo with the name Alfaiz P. Mamintal.
He also denied being a member of the local ISIS or Maute group, but stopped shortly from talking after soldiers and policemen showed him a wanted terrorist poster with his photo and name on it. He later confessed to be Mohammad Maute.
Army Brigadier General Gilbert Gapay, of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said Maute was captured in the village of Macasandig and is currently being interrogated. “His arrest came after a concerned citizen informed the presence of a person who has a resemblance of Abu Jadid, who is included in a photo gallery posted all over Mindanao,” he said.
Gapay said Maute is included in the arrest order signed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who is also the Martial Law Administrator, on May 29. Citing a military report, Gapay said Maute is an Arabic Teacher in Marawi City and suspected to be a bomb expert of the Maute group.
It was unknown how Maute managed to escape from a massive military blockade in Marawi where security forces are battling ISIS militants who occupied much of the city on May 23.
Police and military tightened security in Cagayan de Oro and neighboring city of Iligan near Marawi to prevent militants from launching attacks.
Gapay said they expect more arrests soon. “The Eastern Mindanao Command is expecting more arrests in the coming days as tracking and monitoring are intensified against the persons listed in the two orders of arrest issued by the Martial Law Administrator,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law following the ISIS siege of Marawi. Dozens of soldiers and militants, including civilians, were killed in the violence. ISIS occupied the city in an effort to establish Marawi as a province of the Islamic State. (Moh Saaduddin and Rhoderick Beñez)
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