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Monday, November 20, 2006


Cotabato City, 20 Nov. (AKI) - A Filipino intelligence official has said that al-Qaeda affiliated Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) militants trained four local Muslim rebel commanders to carry out a series of bomb attacks in the southern Philippines. Army Captain Carlos Sol told Adnkronos International (AKI) that the four rebels, Manap Medtang, Abdul Nasser, Jabidi Abdul and Basit Usman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)'s 105th Base Command in Maguindanao, about 590 kilometres south of Manila, were trained by JI bomb experts, Dulmatin and Omar Patek, on bomb-making in the mountains of Lanao del Sur.

"The training happened in 2003. They have ten other Malaysian and Indonesian companions in the training. Despite their MILF leaders' repeated denials, they know in the first place that these commanders have direct links with terrorists," Sol told AKI, on Monday.

Dulmatin and Patek allegedly masterminded the 2002 Bali bombings that killed over 200 people, mostly western tourists.

Medtang's first mission was the bombings in 2003 at the international airport and the Sasa wharf, both in the southern Filipino city of Davao where 49 people were killed and several others wounded.

Nasser and Abdul planned the explosion that ripped through the public market of General Santos City on 13 December, 2004. Fourteen people were killed and several others wounded in that bombing.

Usman, on the other hand, carried out the 10 October, 2006 bomb attack in Makilala town where eight people died and 30 others were wounded.

Makilala, Davao and General Santos are progressive towns and cities on the southern island of Mindanao, which has been troubled by decades of Muslim separatist rebellion as well as Islamic militancy.

"Patek and Dulmatin could not do the bombings alone,” Sol said.

“But because they manage to build friendship with them, they [the four local militants] are doing whatever Patek and Dulmatin want them to do. They are paid per project. And the money would only be deposited in their bank accounts," Sol added.

Eid Kabalu, spokesperson for the MILF, neither denied nor admitted the four commanders are members of his organisation.

"We will verify it because their names are suspicious. Such revelations about our men's links with JI militants might be a move aimed to disrupt the peace talks," Kabalu told AKI.

Kabalu's group and Manila have been engaged in peace talks that have recently been bogged down over the rebels demand to include close to 1,000 villages as part of their future homeland.

JI, a terrorist organization fighting to unite most of Southeast Asia in an Islamic caliphate and believed to have been established by radical Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, is deemed responsible for several bombings in the region including the 2002 Bali bombings.

Active in Mindanao, the JI along with Abu Sayyaf militants, are on the European Union and United States lists of terrorist groups.

Washington put a 10 million-dollar bounty on Dulmatin and offered one million dollars for Patek.

The reward offered for Dulmatin is the second highest award offered under the US's Rewards for Justice Program, exceeded only by the 25 million dollar award offered for al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
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