Military assures no JI-Abu Sayyaf terror threat on Metro Manila
MANILA, Philippines— The military assured the public on Thursday that Metro Manila is free from any terrorist threat despite the reported sightings of Jemaah Islamiyah members in Sulu and the warning aired by a Singapore-based expert on terrorism that they had monitored threats on the metropolis.
The military said that there are no standing immediate threats to Metro Manila despite the monitored movement of a dozen Indonesian and Malaysian Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists in the Philippines.
According to AFP spokesman Colonel Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., the military is continuously gathering and verifying intelligence information regarding the movement of foreign JI bandits who have been reported to be working with the local terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.
“We can assure (you) that Metro Manila is cleared of any JI (terrorists) and we have intensified our intelligence monitoring and are continuously validating information about the presence of JIs in southern Philippines,” Burgos told reporters in a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo, the military main headquarters in Quezon City.
Earlier, Prof. Rohan Gunarathna, head of the Management Staff of the Singapore-based International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, said in a chance interview after the opening ceremony of the first ever Asean Militaries Analyst-to-Analyst Intelligence Exchange (AMAIE) Conference on Terrorism that they had monitored threats in Metro Manila and the movement of 12 foreign JI bandits in Sulu.
Gunarathna added that their information indicated that the terrorists were working with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and were planning terror attacks. He did not elaborate.
However, Burgos said the AFP has only monitored the presence of four identified JI members who, he said, come in and out of the country. Burgos did not disclose their names.
“We have been continuously monitoring and validating reports that there are four identified personalities roaming in the area and come in and out of the country through the porous borders of the Philippines with Malaysia and Indonesia,” Burgos said.
The number of ASG members has been down to 379 in the first semester of this year from its all-time high in 2000, Burgos added.
Burgos attributed this to the “intelligence-driven combat operations” that neutralized 46 ASG leaders and sub-leaders since 2000, with rewards placed on their heads ranging from P1 million to P10 million.
Leading the list of wanted leaders neutralized by the Armed Forces is Khadaffy Janjaani, also known as Jimar Manatad Abubakar, with a P10 million bounty on his head.
Also neutralized were Nadzmie Sabtula (also known as Commander Global), Aldam Tilao (a.k.a. Abu Sabaya), Mujib Susukan (a.k.a. Levis), Galib Andang (a.k.a. Commander Robot), and Jainal Antel Sali (a.k.a. Abu Sulaiman). These members of ASG each had a P5 million reward on their head.
Other members who had a P2 million reward were Tuatin Anahalul, Usman Asari y Salappudin and Ustadz Wahab Upao (a.k.a. Abu Fatima).
Thirty-seven other neutralized members had a P1 million reward for their capture.
Brigadier General Jose Mabanta, deputy chief of staff for operations, said in a statement that “we acknowledge the assistance provided to us by other stakeholders for the neutralization of key leaders and sub-leaders of [ASG].”
In a statement, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Eduardo Oban said, “These remarkable gains [would] not be possible without the help and close coordination [of] other law enforcement agencies and security forces, particularly the Philippine National Police, local government units and the Filipino citizens themselves.”
The AFP gave its assurance that “as protector of the people, it will continue to exhaust all its efforts to successfully decimate this terrorist group.”
Meanwhile, Burgos said that through the Asean conference organized by the AFP and held in the Philippines on September 27-28, member countries have agreed to create an “intelligence fusion system” that will allow for better information sharing among its intelligence agencies.
“This will be very helpful in countering the terrorism threat in the region,” Burgos said.
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