PNP Intelligence Group chief, Brig. Gen. Neil Alinsangan (Screengrab from PNP-IG video report)

MANILA – The Philippine National Police-Intelligence Group (PNP-IG) on Tuesday announced that it has uncovered attempts by a known foreign terrorist organization to wage a proxy war in the country by recruiting Filipino subordinates who will carry out terrorist activities targeting Israeli citizens.

In a report to PNP director for Intelligence Maj. Gen. Michael John Dubria, IG chief Brig. Gen. Neil Alinsangan said a local contact of "Hamas", a Middle East-based Islamist militant group that played a major role in carrying out attacks against Israelis and Arabs, tipped them about the alleged 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 the international terrorist organizations," Alinsangan said.

Alinsangan, citing information obtained from coordination with their foreign and local counterparts, disclosed that Bashir’s real name is Fares Al Shikli, who is purportedly the head of Hamas’ Foreign Liaison Section.

"He has also an Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization) red notice and is charged with an Offense of Terrorism Logistics Support," he added.

The report also cited that the source made several trips to Malaysia from 2016 to 2018, where he met with Al Shikli to discuss the possibility of mounting attacks against Israeli nationals in the country in exchange for financial assistance by Hamas.

It was in 2016 when Al Shikli started grooming him as a local contact in the Philippines and introduced him to theoretical bomb-making training in one of their meetings in Malaysia.

In late 2017, Al Shikli expressed his intention with the source to recruit Filipinos with links to local threat groups who will be utilized to kill Jews present in the country, conduct rallies at selected embassies, and spread video propaganda in exchange for financial support.

This is not the first time that Hamas has attempted to stage its activities in the country. In January 2018, an Iraqi scientist identified as Mohammad Al Jabori who is affiliated with the group was arrested in Pampanga.

He was later deported by the Bureau of Immigration.

“This is a stern warning to all terroristic groups who plan to conduct recruitment and similar activities in the country, we have a way to know you and you cannot do your plans here because the PNP and AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), through the active support of the community, are working together to preempt your devious plans," Alinsangan said. (PNA)