In the arsenal of the terrorist, one of the most lethal weapons is the suicide bomber. How do you fight someone whose idea of warfare is killing himself? Or herself – in the case of the Indonesian woman who is now in police custody on charges of planning a suicide bomb attack.
Security forces said Rezky Fantasya Rullie was arrested last Saturday in Jolo, Sulu with a vest packed with explosives, together with two other women believed to be wives of Abu Sayyaf members.
Terror cells know that women and children are ideal suicide bombers, because they normally do not appear in the state’s intelligence radar and security forces hesitate to neutralize such human weapons.
On Aug. 24 this year, two women also carried out suicide bombings in Jolo that killed 14 people apart from the bombers. One of the women was the widow of the first Filipino suicide bomber, who attacked an Army detachment in Indanan, Sulu on June 28 last year that left eight people dead. The other woman was said to be the widow of a slain Abu Sayyaf bomb expert who was the group’s liaison to the terrorist Islamic State.
IS, now on the run in the Middle East and other regions, reportedly wants to turn parts of Mindanao into its Southeast Asian hub. Every effort must be made to prevent this from happening. The Philippines can increase its cooperation with Indonesia against cross-border terrorism. Around the world, it has been a complicated battle. The terrorists are fighting to supplant free societies with a regimented way of life based on their twisted, extremist, hate-filled interpretation of faith.
Part of the response to this threat is countering extremist propaganda and active recruitment. Terrorists must be deprived of their support network. The Mautes’ success in building a support base allowed them to lay siege to Marawi for five months before their leaders were neutralized.
Security measures to neutralize the threat must be complemented by education as well as programs to promote moderation, tolerance and non-violence at the grassroots. Development must be brought to underserved communities so radicalism does not take root. There must be no reason for people, especially women and children, to resort to the kind of zealotry that drives them to blow themselves up.