Al-Qaeda suspect Mohammad Said is captured in Cotabato City in southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo/Mark Navales
COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 20, 2007) – Filipino authorities were searching for more foreigners with ties to the Saudi terror group, al-Qaeda, after security forces arrested an Arab missionary suspected of being a terrorist.
“We are searching for more and authorities have intensified its intelligence operation to track down and neutralize these foreign terrorists,” one intelligence officer said.
He did not elaborate, but said they were hunting down companions of the arrested Egyptian.
Government agents, backed by military and police forces, arrested an alleged Egyptian al-Qaeda operative after storming his apartment early Wednesday in Cotabato City.
Security forces swooped down on the apartment and arrested Mohammad Said who also uses the aliases Mohammad Sayed and Abu Husein.
Recovered from his apartment were several improvised explosive devices, including a book with Arabic texts fitted with bomb from its hollowed pages.
Also seized from the apartment were detonating cords, alarm clocks, batteries, 60mm mortar rocket, high-explosive ammunition, 3 pounds of chemical believed to be explosives, two kilos of ball bearings to be used as shrapnel for an IED, and a booklet of Moro Islamic Liberation Front combat manual.
Officials said the Egyptian is being interrogated on a security base in Cotabato City, where several Turkish and Middle Eastern nationals were arrested over the last five years.
Officials did not give details about the foreigner or whether he has connections with the MILF, the Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group currently negotiating peace with Manila.
An MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu has denied any links with Said, whom he said is a preacher and a good man. “He has been living in Cotabato the past years and we hear nothing bad about him. He is preaching Islam and that is what we know of this man they now tag as terrorist,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.
Little is known about Said and officials declined to give any formal statement about his arrest or if he was planning to mount terror attacks.
His arrest came several days later after the Filipino police said terrorists were planning attacks and that among those targeted are Westerners in the southern Philippines. (Mark Navales)