Trained In MILF Camp, Would-be JI Bomber Confesses

October 8, 2007 at 9:10 am | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 08, 2007) – Philippine authorities have repeatedly linked the country’s largest Muslim rebel group to the radical Indonesian group Jemaah Islamiya and the Saudi Arabia’s al-Qaeda terror network.

The MILF has strongly denied all allegations against them and its chieftain, the secluded but moderate Murad Ebrahim repeatedly denounced violence and terrorism. However, the MILF said there could be rogue members providing clandestine military trainings to JI militants without its knowing.

And a former JI militant arrested in Singapore has told authorities there that he received weapons training from the MILF in the southern Philippines, according to a report by the Malay language newspaper, Berita Harian, published on Saturday.

The identity of the arrested militant was not made public nor details of his arrest, but Singapore’s Today online news also reported that what started as a noble effort to deepen his understanding of Islam took a wrong turn when he was sidetracked by deviant teachings of radical ideologues and joined in weapons training allegedly organized by the MILF.

Now, the former member of the Singapore branch of the JI said he was lucky to have been arrested and detained in Singapore.

“I could have become a suicide bomber. I would like to share this lesson I learnt with others: Do not be easily influenced; flow with life’s mainstream,” the arrested militant said.

The report said he was detained under the Internal Security Act for four years and is now under Restriction Orders. He expressed his gratitude for the religious counseling he had received from the Religious Reformation Group, as well as for the unwavering support of his wife and children during this period.

His involvement in the JI began after he attended classes in the 1980s to better understand Islam. In one class, he met two others who offered to take him to another class, which turned out to be organized by the deviant organization.

The lessons began innocuously enough, revealing little of JI’s characteristics, although the former member felt a tad suspicious when students were told not to leave their footwear outside the classroom as is normally practiced.

“They never mentioned it was a JI class,” the former JI member said. “They only said that the class was to improve religious knowledge.”

The indoctrination was gradual and destructive, with the teachers agitating students over the problems faced by their Muslim compatriots in places such as Palestine, Afghanistan and in neighboring Indonesia and the Philippines.

“They mentioned what was happening in Tanjung Pinang, Indonesia, and what their government was doing to oppress the Muslims. Some Indonesian Muslims had to flee to Malaysia. They asked us to help them.”

“They also mentioned that those people wanted to raise funds to buy a piece of land to build homes and a religious school on. They invited me to go over and follow their classes,” the militant said in the interview, adding, that while the classes were free, he was asked to contribute money to various programs, including the building of schools.”

“They didn’t mention JI until they built the religious school in Ulu Tiram in Johor. But the JI were not as obvious then as they are now… I carried on with my involvement and took my children to study there (Ulu Tiram) and lived with them for several years.”

“After some time … they also started to talk about what was happening in the Philippines and the MILF. Through JI, I started communicating with the MILF.I got to know the leader and members of the MILF through JI. From then on, my focus changed from JI to the MILF … In the Philippines, the MILF aims to achieve independence. They want to form their own Islamic country,” he said.

“So, the priority had to be given to them. Eventually, I began to realise that MILF also had a close relationship with JI and Al Qaeda. They also ran training camps for JI members. They were also involved in the violent cluster,” the militant said.

Feeling remorseful over his past, he said the JI aims to create chaos in Singapore and tarnish the good name of the Muslim community there.

“Our actions were unfair. Because of our actions as a minority, the majority of the Muslim community here has to go through a hard time. I feel very guilty,” he said. “I regret and apologize for getting involved with JI,” he said. “I regret that I was being misled. What I did was wrong.”

An MILF spokesman, Eid Kabalu, said his group is willing to work closely with Singapore or Indonesian authorities in investigating the reported JI trainings in the southern Philippines.

“While we deny involvements in terrorism, the MILF is willing to work with Singapore and even Indonesia to investigate the alleged JI training in southern Philippines. The MILF is willing and ready to work with authorities about this matter,” Kabalu told regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner on Monday.

Kabalu admitted that there could be some MILF members who were providing military or weapons training to JI militants without the knowledge of the rebel group. Australia also linked the MILF with JI.

“There is a possibility that some rogue MILF members could be providing trainings to JI and like Singapore, we are also concerned about this activity and that’s why we are willing to work with Singapore authorities, or the Philippine authorities or anybody to investigate this matter. We wanted to know who these people are and punish them,” he said.

Kabalu said the MILF, which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, has tens of thousands of members in the Philippines. The rebel group is fighting for a separate Muslim homeland in the troubled, but mineral-rich region of Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner)

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