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DOJ files inciting to rebellion raps vs alleged ISIS recruiter Featured

MANILA — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed inciting to rebellion charges against a woman allegedly involved in recruiting foreigners into the country for terrorist activities through social media.

In a 16-page resolution dated last Nov. 27 but was released to media on Wednesday, the DOJ indicted Karen Hamidon for 295 counts of inciting to rebellion under Article 138 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Section 6 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (Republic Act 10175) before the Taguig City Regional Trial Court.

“Respondent’s act of inciting others to commit rebellion was done by posting various messages through social media multiple times,” read the DOJ resolution, which was prepared and signed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong and was approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor officer-in-charge Amor Robles and Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr.

The charges against Hamidon were based on the complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The DOJ said the NBI was able to present evidence that she incited others to the execution of any of the acts of rebellion even as it dismissed the complaint for rebellion for lack of merit.

“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 DOJ also dismissed Hamidon’s claim that she was instigated by an NBI undercover agent to commit the alleged crime.

“The same deserves scant attention, since the contents of the messages and the multiple times these were posted defy her theory of instigation,” the DOJ added.

Government investigators conducting undercover work and a forensic examination had accused Hamidon of using messaging apps Telegram and WhatsApp, where they said she was “prolific in her recruitment and promotion activities for ISIS”.

ISIS is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. “The Islamic State invites you to join in the Philippines. We note that the door to immigration is open to the cities of Marawi and (the southern region of) Mindanao,” state investigators quoted Hamidon as saying in a Telegram post.

Hamidon earlier insisted that she was an Islamic missionary who had used social media for religious purposes. Describing herself as a “weak woman”, Hamidon, a former call center agent and flight attendant, said she had no means to take arms against the government.

“As a matter of fact, she owes the government so much because she was raised by her parents through their salaries from being government employees, specifically of the Philippine National Police,” Hamidon’s counter-affidavit stated.

Hamidon denied that she intended to recruit fighters to join the Maute group, who had claimed allegiance to the ISIS.

“I vehemently deny the charges against me because there was an instigation on my part which is illegal. The acts allegedly committed were not done voluntarily and against my will and caprice,” she said in her counter-affidavit.

But for the DOJ, the contents of the messages and the multiple times these were posted “defy her theory of instigation”.

“As to her arguments that she was not committing any crime at the time she was arrested and at the time her mobile phone was seized, and all the aforequoted social media posts do not bear her name, these arguments are evidentiary in character which are best ventilated in a full-blown trial,” the DOJ said in a resolution.

“The presumption prevails that complainants regularly performed their official duties and ordinary course of business has been followed,” it added.

The DOJ recommended that she post a bail bond of PHP20,000 for every count charged against her, or a total of PHP5.9 million.

On the other hand, the DOJ turned down the recommendation of the NBI to file a rebellion case against her since “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 join those fighting for the establishment of a Wilayah of ISIS East Asia,” it said.

Under the law, the DOJ explained she could also be charged with rebellion if those who heeded her call took up arms.

“In this case, there is no showing that rebellion was actually committed by the persons to whom the aforequoted messages were sent,” it said.

The 36-year-old suspect was arrested by operatives of the NBI’s Counter-Terrorism Division at her residence in Taguig City last Oct. 11 and has since been detained at the NBI headquarters in Manila.

Hamidon is the ex-wife of Singaporean Muhammad Shamin Mohammed Sidek, as well as the widow of slain Ansar Khalifa Philippines (AKP) leader Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, alias Tokboy, who was killed in a shootout with police in Saranggani last January.

Sidek is detained in Singapore for his links with ISIS, while, the AKP has been identified as the group behind the Sept. 2016 Davao City night market bombing, which was done in cooperation with the Maute, and the foiled bombing attempt of the United States Embassy in Manila in December last year. (PNA)
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