MANILA — The Jemaah Islamiyah, in coordination with Malaysian bomb expert Zulkifli bin Hir alias “Marwan,” had planned to bomb the papal convoy during Pope Francis’ January visit in the country, according to relieved Special Action Force (SAF) chief Police Director Getulio Napenas.
During Monday’s Senate inquiry into Mamasapano incident, Napenas revealed that based on their information, Marwan had planned to construct a bomb to be detonated as the Papal convoy drove down T.M. Kalaw Street in Manila on January 18, 2015.
”We have information that the Jemaah Islamiyah, in coordination with Marwan, had planned to construct a bomb to be detonated as the Papal convoy drove down TM Kalaw street,” Napenas told the Senate panel.
Napenas, however, said the Philippine National Police (PNP) did not confirm or deny the report.
”The fact, however, remains that there exists this information,” Napenas said.
Marwan was killed in an operation dubbed as ‘Oplan Exodus’ also aimed at capturing his cohort, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) commander Basit Usman, who managed to escape.
Both Marwan and Usman were dubbed as high-value targets in the operation where 44 SAF men have been killed after they encountered forces of the BIFF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Marwan, a Malaysian national, was the technical mastermind behind the 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 innocent civilians, including 88 Australians.
After the operation, Napenas was relieved as SAF chief due to the death of the 44 SAF commandos for alleged non-coordination with other agencies including the MILF, to which the government has an ongoing ceasefire agreement.
The January 25 clash is the first major encounter since the 2012 ceasefire between the government and the MILF, and hangs the fate of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) now still being deliberated in Congress.
Though SAF lost 44 highly-trained troopers, Napenas described the operation as successful as they not only killed Marwan but also at least 250 fighters from both the MILF and BIFF.