Al-Qaeda-Linked Kenyan Jihadi Studying to Be a Pilot Arrested in Philippines with Explosives

The mugshot of Kenyan national Cholo Abdi Abdullah, arrested in the Philippines. July 1, 2019
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Filipino authorities this week arrested a Kenyan man believed to be a member of the al-Qaeda affiliate in East Africa al-Shabaab.

The suspect was “studying to be a pilot at All Asia Aviation Academy and was also undertaking research on different aviation threats,” Nairobi News reported on Tuesday, the day the man was taken into custody by law enforcement in the Philippines.

Al-Qaeda was behind the 9/11 attacks on the American homeland. The 9/11 Commission report mentioned al-Qaeda’s links to the Philippines where the jihadi group has long maintained ties to local radical Islamic organizations.

Some of those groups have switched their allegiance to al-Qaeda’s rival the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in recent years.

Although the Philippines is a Catholic-majority nation, it houses a predominantly Muslim region in the southern part of the country.

Considered one of Africa’s most powerful, violent, and far-reaching al-Qaeda branches, the Somalia-based al-Shabaab reportedly has international goals.

Nairobi News reported:

Philippines National Police (PNP) on Tuesday said that Mr. Cholo Abdi Abdullah was arrested at Rasca Hotel in Iba, Zambales, located north west of the country. Major General Amador Corpus, the Director of Criminal Investigations and Detection Group (CIDG), said the suspect was arrested and taken to custody.

Citing a police report, the news outlet revealed that Filipino authorities reportedly “seized a 9-mm pistol, magazine and ammunition, one unit of an improvised explosive device, a hand grenade, and other bomb-making components.”

The arrest of the al-Shabaab-linked Kenyan national in the Philippines came amid a series of suicide bombings in the Southeast Asian country that has triggered concerns about the growing influence of ISIS in the country.

While a local Islamist insurgency has killed thousands in the Catholic-majority island nation, they are not known to engage in suicide bombings. Local authorities have blamed foreigners for the few suicide attacks that have taken place in the Philippines.

Filipino law enforcement did accuse a local man of carrying out the latest deadly suicide bombing against a military base on June 28. If found to be accurate, it would mark the first time a Filipino carried out such an attack.

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