ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 31 Jan) – A Saudi philanthropist accused by the Philippine authorities of channeling funds to Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines, has been killed inside his home in Madagascar, reports said Wednesday.
Jamal Khalifa, brother-in-law of al-Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden, was shot by gunmen who raided his home early on Wednesday in an apparent robbery, the al-Arabiya Arabic news network reported.
Khalifa helped established the International Islamic Relief Organization and the Al-Makdum University in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines in the 1990s, but abandoned them after Filipino authorities linked him to the terror group Abu Sayyaf and the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
He arrived in the Philippines in 1991, and by 1993 was listed at immigration as "financier of terrorists." Khalifa was also reported to have married a Filipino woman in Zamboanga City, but fled the country after the military linked him to the MILF and Abu Sayyaf.
He was reported hiding in the Middle East and Africa until the news of his killing broke out. Khalifa at one time even offered to help Manila negotiate with Filipino Muslim rebels and end the fighting in Mindanao.
The Philippine military said Khalifa’s relief organization and his university were used as a front to launder money and channel funds to terrorists in the southern island of Mindanao. Khalifa had previously denied all charges by the Philippine authorities.
Eid Kabalu, a spokesman for the MILF, admitted Wednesday that Khalifa, who mined and traded precious stones in Madagascar, came to Mindanao in the 1990s, not to finance the separatist Muslim rebel group or terrorists, but to build mosques and madrasah.
“I was shocked to hear that he was killed today. As far as I know, Jamal Khalifa was an Arab philanthropist, who helped built mosques and madrasah and health centers for poor Muslim community in Mindanao. He was a good man,” Kabalu told the Mindanao Examiner by phone from a rebel base in the Philippine south.
The rebel spokesman said Khalifa had visited the main MILF headquarters Camp Abubakar As-Siddique in Maguindanao province where he also helped finance the building of mosques and health centers.Khalifa was active in humanitarian missions in Mindanao, Kabalu said.
“What we knew about Jamal Khalifa was that he had helped thousands of Filipino Muslims and that even the Philippine government benefited from his being a philanthropist, from all those humanitarian projects” he said without further elaborating.
The rebel base was also home to thousands of Muslim supporters of the MILF until it was attacked and occupied by the Philippine military in April 2000 after peace talks with the Estrada administration failed.
Washington accused Bin Laden of masterminding the 9/11 attacks in the United States and listed the Abu Sayyaf as a foreign terrorist organization. (Mindanao Examiner)