Hapilon's close aide arrested in Zamboanga City

MANILA, Philippines – Military and police forces arrested a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group and a close aide of its senior leader, Isnilon Hapilon, in Zamboanga City on Saturday, June 17.

In a statement, the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) reported that Hamsi Amajad Marani was arrested by elements of Joint Task Force Zamboanga and the Zamboanga City Police Office at 1:30 am at Purok 4, Sitio Niyog-Niyog in Barangay Muti. 

Marani is a bomber trained by an Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah bomb expert, said Westmincom. He was also involved in a series of military encounters against government forces in Sulu and Basilan, it added.

The joint task force reported that Marani "was spotted by a concerned citizen who immediately notified the authorities, leading to the bomber's arrest."

Authorities recovered from Marani paraphernalia to make improvised explosive devices (IEDs). He had been placed under the custody of Zamboanga police and was undergoing debriefing, said the military.

"The capture of Marani will somehow cripple any possible support being given by Marani to Hapilon as he struggles to leave Marawi to safety,"
said Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez Jr, Westmincom commander.

Hapilon – reported to be the direct contact ofthe Isalmic State or ISIS in the Philippines – is the target of the military operation in Marawi City on May 23, which escalated into a siege after members of the Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf attacked the city to fend off Hapilon's arrest. Rappler.com