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Philippines arrest Kuwaiti 'IS bomb maker' and Syrian wife

Hussein al-Dhafiri [centre right] and his wife Rahaf Dina Dhafiri appeared before reporters Thursday [AP]

Date of publication: 7 April, 2017

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A Kuwaiti national suspected of being an IS bomb maker awaits deportation along with his Syrian wife, a widow of a top IS commander, after being apprehended in the Philippines.

US and Kuwaiti authorities assisted Philippine security services in arresting a Middle Eastern couple with suspected links to the Islamic State group, officials said Friday.

The couple are suspected to have been planning bomb attacks in Kuwait and possibly the Philippines.

Hussein al-Dhafiri and Rahaf Zina Dhafiri were arrested late last month in a commercial district in Taguig city in metropolitan Manila. Their detention was not announced until late Thursday, when the two suspects were presented to reporters.

"I believe since nothing happened, we were able to nip whatever terrorist intention they have in the bud," Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said at a news conference in Manila.

Aguirre said the arrests were kept secret to allow intelligence services to identify their local contacts and prevent them from advancing any attacks planned. 

He added that the couples' arrests were made possible by information provided by the US and Kuwait.

Dhafiri, a 40-year-old Kuwaiti citizen, was allegedly an IS bomb-maker. 

Aldhafiri first traveled to the Philippines last year as a tourist and later obtained a work visa. Officials said Kuwait plans to cancel his passport to allow his deportation from the Philippines. He is likely to face terrorism charges in his country.

Dhafiri's wife, a 27-year-old Syrian, was reportedly the widow of a top IS commander in her country. Following her arrest she was sent to a hospital after reporting that she was pregnant. It is likely she will be deported to Qatar, her last point of departure, Philippine's Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said.

Aguirre said there are no known linked between the couple and Filipino Muslim militants.

A number of armed Islamist groups operate in the Philippines' southern regions, including the brutal Abu Sayyaf group. Several of these militant outfits have pledged allegiance to the IS 'caliphate' in a bid to secure funding and training.

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