A plan devised by Hamas was thwarted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday when it unveiled the terror group's plan to establish infrastructure in the country and target Israelis there, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Philippines Ambassador to Israel Macairog S. Alberto, a former army general, said the operation reflects the "ongoing joint effort between the Philippines and Israel to fight terror," and a security relationship that has grown stronger in recent years.
Citing a report by Intelligence Group director Police Brig.-Gen. Neil Alinsangan, the Philippine police revealed that the terror group planned to “establish a foothold” in the country and specifically target visiting Israelis.
“Our Filipino source identified the Hamas operative as ‘Bashir,’ who was reportedly attempting to establish a foothold in the Philippines with pledges of financial support to some local threat groups, including militant extremists with links to the international terrorist organizations,” Alinsangan said, according to the report.
He also said that coordination with foreign and local counterparts revealed Bashir's real name to be Fares al-Shikli, who Filipino police claim is a member of Hamas's foreign relations department.
Alinsangan stated that Police uncovered the terror group's actions thanks to a piece of information provided by a local resident who was in contact with a Shikli.
The brigadier general also stated that Shikli has an "Interpol Red Notice and is charged with an Offense of Terrorism Logistic Support."
The Filipino source made trips to Malaysia between 2016-2018 where he met with Shikli to plan attacks against Israelis in the Philippines in exchange for Hamas financial assistance. The PNP stated that Shikli "groomed" the Filipino source as a local contact and introduced bomb-making training while in Malaysia.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.