Obligation to humanity

Eliminating Hamas should benefit not only Israel but the civilized world as the extremist group exports its brand of terror, as it did to the Philippines, which had an insurgency problem involving Islamic militants.

There were suspicions that Hamas provided indirect logistical support to the Maute group in the infamous five-month Marawi siege in 2017.

Local security agency documents revealed Hamas was conducting operations in the Philippines from Malaysia in the period spanning the reign of the Maute group that culminated in the Islamic State-inspired attack on Marawi, the key Islamic city in the Philippines.

The militants led by Omar and Abdullah Maute sought to establish an IS caliphate in the city to oversee the global terror group’s operations in Asia.

Hamas, which launched the ongoing bloodbath in Israel, sent operatives to the country to recruit Filipinos for attacks against foreign nationals.

In a Daily Tribune report last week, the National Security Council said that Philippine intelligence units halted Hamas operatives’ efforts to coordinate with local extremists and expand their operations in the country.

Documents obtained from militant groups indicated that from 2016 to 2018, a senior Hamas operative plotted to attack Israeli citizens in the Philippines.

A 2022 report to Philippine National Police Intelligence Group chief Brig. Gen. Neil Alinsangan said that a local Hamas contact revealed the plot.

“Our Filipino source identified the Hamas operative as ‘Bashir,’ who was reportedly attempting to establish a foothold in the Philippines with pledges of financial support to some local threat groups, including militant extremists with links to international terrorist organizations,” Alinsangan said.

Intelligence investigation revealed Bashir’s real name was Fares Al Shikli, the alleged Hamas foreign liaison.

Fares Al Shikli had an Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization) red notice and was being sought for an “Offense of Terrorism Logistics Support,” Alinsangan said.

The police informant claimed to have met the militant leader several times in Malaysia between 2016 and 2018 to discuss an operation against Israeli nationals in exchange for financial assistance from Hamas.

Al Shikli had an extensive network in the Philippines whose elements were introduced to the police contact who witnessed a theoretical bomb-making training during one of their meetings in Malaysia.

In late 2017, after the Marawi siege failed, Al Shikli expressed his intention to recruit members of militant groups against Jews in the country, conduct rallies at selected embassies, and spread video propaganda.

In January 2018, an Iraqi scientist identified as Taha Mohammad Al-Jabouri, affiliated with Hamas, was arrested in Pampanga and immediately deported.

Al-Jabouri was a chemist and bomb maker who had eluded police and had confessed that “he served as a consultant” for the Hamas organization in Syria before relocating to Turkey in 2012.

The Hamas-linked militants were active in training local recruits to make improvised bombs.

Previously, police said they foiled a potential attack in November 2016 after discovering an improvised bomb near the US Embassy in Manila. The bomb plot was blamed on the Maute group, whose leaders would go on to help lead the siege on the southern city of Marawi by pro-Islamic State militants in May 2017.

The five-month siege resulted in the deaths of 1,200 militants, government forces, and civilians.

Also, in May 2017, police placed the crowded Quiapo district in Manila under lockdown after two explosions occurred within hours near the Muslim center, killing two people. It was not clear who was behind the attack, however.

Security agencies, hopefully, are keeping their eyes peeled for other atrocities the terror organization may have planned in the country.

Hamas and its terror campaign against Israelis and other nations that seek to protect freedom must not be allowed to prosper.

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