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Tuesday, June 27, 2006


MANILA, June 27, 2006 (STAR) By Jaime Laude - For the past five months, the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist network has been conducting bomb and demolition training in the jungles of Mindanao for planned attacks in the region with Indonesia as a "primary target," a senior anti-terrorism official warned yesterday.

The official source said that bomb experts of the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist network are supervising the training currently being held in two sites in Lanao del Sur.

Without giving further specifics, the official, who asked not to be named, said these training sites are within the municipalities of Piagapo and Butig.

According to the source, the bomb and demolition training began last April and is expected to end by September in time for the execution of the bombing spree that would coincide with the commemoration of the Sept. 11, 2001 suicide attacks in the United States.

"The JIs are planning to conduct simultaneous bombings in the region with Bali, Indonesia as one of its prime targets," the source said.

The source added that the regional terrorist network are planning to mount a deadlier attack in the Indonesian resort of Bali, as it did in October 2002 — an attack that left 202 mostly Australian tourists dead and 209 more wounded.

Aside from the Bali resort, the regional terrorist network is also eyeing key targets in the country for planned simultaneous bombing runs.

Among the targets, the source revealed, were the US Embassy in Manila, a hotel in Zamboanga City, a bus terminal in Cagayan de Oro and in Cotabato, and an establishment in Makati City.

The source said the alleged training sites of the terrorists are being secured by heavily armed followers of a certain Commander Abdullah Macaapar of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Aside from foreign recruits, participants of the training are members of the homegrown Abu Sayyaf bandits, Rajah Sulaiman Movement (RSM) and renegade MILF members, the source added.

The mainstream MILF, a separatist rebel group that has battled the government for decades, is engaged in peace talks with the Arroyo administration that are sponsored by Malaysia.

It was reported last year that a number of JI operatives, including Umar Patek and Dulmatin, were holed up in the terrorist jungle lair of Mt. Cararao in the boundary of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.

Patek and Dulmatin were key suspects in the Bali bombing in 2002 and carry a reward of $10 million and $1 million, respectively, for their capture.

This reward was put up by the US government, which in the past months has poured significant anti-terrorism resources into Mindanao.
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