PH charges social media-savvy widow of terrorist with inciting to rebellion
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice filed 295 counts of inciting to rebellion charges against the social media-savvy widow of one of the country's top terror leaders, the slain Ansar Khalifa Philippines (AKP) leader Mohammad Jaafar Maguid or "Tokboy."
Karen Aizha Hamidon allegedly used social media to recruit Filipino and foreign fighters to join the 5-month-long siege in Marawi City earlier this year in the name of international terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS). (READ: The war in Marawi: 153 days and more)
The charges were filed with the Taguig City regional trial court. The bail is set at P20,000 for every count charged against her or a total of P5.9 million.
Prosecutors investigated at least 295 messages she posted on the social media application Telegram and WhatsApp. She is accused of violating Article 138 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Section 6 of Republic Act 10175, otherwise know as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
“Respondent’s acts of inciting others to commit rebellion was done by posting various messages through social media multiple times. In sum, respondent should be charged for 295 counts of inciting to rebellion in violation of Article 138 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to Section 6 of Republic Act 10175,” it added.
The department turned down a recommendation by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to file rebellion charges because “there is nothing to show that respondent took arms or was in open hostility against the government."
“From the allegations of complainants and their evidence, there is nothing to show that respondent took arms or was in open hostility against the government. Their evidence only points to respondent’s acts of inciting others to the execution of acts of rebellion, among others, to go to Marawi City or Mindanao and to join those fighting for the establishment of a Wilayah of ISIS East Asia,” the resolution read.
Hamidon's late husband, Maguid, was accused of collaborating with the Maute Group to bomb Davao City in September 2016. The two groups were also allegedly behind the failed attempt to bomb the United States embassy 3 months later.
The AKP and the Maute Group are among 4 local terror groups linked with ISIS. The other two are the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Abu Sayyaf Group, particularly the faction of slain ISIS "emir" Isnilon Hapilon.
Maguid was killed in January 2017. (READ: Top leader of pro-ISIS PH terror group killed)
The 16-page resolution against Hamidon was issued by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong and approved by Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan.
Investigation against Hamidon began in 2016 after the Indian government reported how she recruited its citizens to join ISIS. The (NBI) Counter-Terrorism Division has since started monitoring her.
She was arrested in October. – Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com