Filipino suspect in foiled NY plot: PH is ‘breeding ground for terrorists’

Darryl Esguerra
PUBLISHED October 9, 2017 12:10 pm
ISIS in Mindanao? Reuters File Photo

(Inside Manila) A Filipino suspect in a foiled jihadist plot targeting several areas of New York City had boasted that the Philippines was "a breeding ground for terrorists," the United States Justice Department said Saturday, October 7 (Manila Time).


Russel Salic, the Filipino charged for allegedly supporting a terror plot in New York, is a doctor who used to practice in Marawi City. He used to work at the Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi and is also being linked to the Maute local terror group based in the Islamic City.


The 37-year-old orthopedic surgeon and two others have been charged with involvement in the plan to carry out attacks in the name of ISIS during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in 2016.


A statement released by the US embassy in Manila said Salic transferred money to the other suspects for the operation, saying he could safely do it from the Philippines without attracting much attention.


Multiple locations including New York’s subway, Times Square and some concert venues were identified as targets in the plot that was foiled by an undercover US agent.


The statement quoted messages sent by Salic to others involved in the plot in which he described terror laws in the Philippines as “not strict” in comparison to countries.


“Terrorists from all over the world usually come here as a breeding ground for terrorists…  hahahaha… But no worry here in Philippines. They don’t care bout IS… Only in west,” he said.


The Philippines has been struggling for decades with armed insurgencies arising from the Muslim minority in Mindanao.


Various Muslim militant groups have publicly pledged allegiance to ISIS in the past, including the Maute group that have laid sieged in Marawi since May 23.


The fighting, which is still raging despite the Philippine military using artillery, airstrikes and US military assistance, has left the once-thriving city in ruins with thousands of civilians displaced. –with a report from AFP

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