PNP beefs up cyber patrolling to thwart terror attacks

THE Philippine National Police (PNP) Anti-Cybercrime Group is beefing up monitoring of online sites to thwart any possible terror attack, a police official said on Wednesday.

Police Brigadier General Dennis Agustin, PNP-ACG director, said cyber patrolling aims to obtain information on illegal and terrorism-related activities that use online platforms.

"We are now looking into some online sites that may serve as a platform to promote and provide open grounds to plot and exhibit violence and terrorism," he said.

Earlier, the ACG conducted investigation on the website 8chan which was allegedly used as a platform to cater to extremism, radicalism, supremacism and other forms of terrorism like the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas last August 4, which resulted in the killing of at least 22 people, and the mosque shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, which killed 51 people.

The suspect in the Texas killings allegedly expressed his anger against immigrants, especially Latin Americans, on the said website before he conducted the shooting.

The creator of the said website, Fredrick Brennan, has been living in the Philippines for over a decade now while its current owner, Jim Watkins, also lives in the country.

Agustin said Watkins could not be located as he already moved out of his appartment while Brennan has already coordinated with them regarding what he knows about the website.

Brennan said he created 8chan in 2013 and it has become “a hive of white supremacy, anonymous hate, and Neo-Nazism” since he sold it to a fellow American.

He admitted feeling guilty “sometimes” for creating a website which he said had turned into a monster.

Agustin said cyber patrolling will also help, determine and confirm the whereabouts of Watkins and his online operations since he is currently based in the country.

Earlier, the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) alerted its units to possible terror attacks in its area of responsibility.

The Nolcom said they received an intelligence information on August 2, stating that a “Crusader City” with business centers and “Crusader Churches” in the Northern Luzon are being targeted for terror attack by the ISIS.

“Crusader Cities is the term used by ISIS in describing target areas to fuel what they call ‘Bandar Crusade’ or war between Muslim and Christian while ‘crusader churches’ is their generic term for all historic Catholic churches,” the Nolcom said.

On Friday, August 9, a report from the Straits Times said Mark Kevin Samhoon and Victoria Sophia Sto. Domingo have slipped into the country despite being the Manila International Airport Authorities’ (MIAA) watch list.

Samhoon, whose mother is a Filipina, was linked to the bombings in Sri Lanka in April which resulted in the killing of over 200 people.

Sto. Domingo and Samhoon were allegedly operating with the Suyuful Khilafa Fi Luzon, that has links to Islamic State (ISIS) which was planning to attack churches and other establishments. (SunStar Philippines)


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