Philippines Steps Up Hunt For Jemaah Islamiya Bombers In South

August 7, 2007 at 4:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 07 Aug) – Philippine troops have intensified the search for a senior Jemaah Islamiya militant hiding in the southern region of Mindanao, a Filipino army commander said Tuesday.

Amy Major General Raymundo Ferrer, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, said soldiers were hunting down Malaysian bomber Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, believed hiding in central Mindanao.

“We are tracking him down in central Mindanao. Zulkifli is on top of our terror list and we are gathering intelligence about this terrorist and whoever is coddling him,” Ferrer told the Mindanao Examiner.

Security forces have captured Zulkifli’s Filipino associate Kaharudin Usman also known as Kasalud, on Friday in Manila after a foiling a plot to bomb shopping malls in the capital.

Filipino police director Roberto Rosales said the man is an operative of the Jemaah Islamiya and was behind a spate of bombings in Mindanao. Usman was captured after a brief chase inside the SM shopping mall in Taguig City.

Usman said they were also planning to bomb food terminals in Manila. Policemen and soldiers also seized a homemade bomb assembled from a 60mm mortar and C-4 explosives from Usman’s hideout in Taguig City.

Usman is believed to be working directly with Zulkifli and Abdulbassit Usman, a Filipino terrorist with links to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front based in central Mindanao, Rosales said.

Zulkifli is said to be recruiting Filipinos in Mindanao and train them to become bombers, according to Ferrer.

“We have intelligence reports that Zulkifli is recruiting and training locals to become terrorists,” he said.

He said the MILF, which has denied any links with the Jemaah Islamiya, is helping the military track down Zulkifli and other terrorists in Mindanao. The MILF, the largest Muslim rebel group, is currently negotiating peace with the government.

Aside from Zulkifli, Philippine authorities are also pursuing Dulmatin and Umar Patek, both tagged by Jakarta as behind the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 mostly Western holidaymakers.

In March, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has authorized a new reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of Zulkifli, who was believed to be involved in multiple deadly bomb attacks in the Philippines.

Zulkifli, who allegedly heads the Kumpulun Mujahidin Malaysia (KMM) terrorist organization, has been added to most-wanted list of the Rewards for Justice Program, administered by the Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

The U.S. State Department said Zulkifli has been present in the Philippines since August 2003, where he is believed to have conducted bomb-making training for the Abu Sayyaf.

His younger brother, Taufik bin Abdul Halim, Dany, was involved in the 2001 Jakarta Atrium Mall bombing, and currently is in detention in Indonesia. (Juan Magtanggol)


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