Manila - If terrorists in Indonesia prefer to use couriers as a conduit for their foreign funds, their counterparts in the Philippines tend to rely on banks, money-changers and non-governmental organisations to access the money supplied by their foreign sponsors.
A glimpse into the funding operations for terrorist groups operating in the Philippines was given by a detained member of a radical Muslim covert group, Malik Alimuddin, in a sworn statement submitted to court recently.
Alimuddin, 27, said he opened an account with the state-run Land Bank early this year as ordered by Abu Sayyaf chief, Khadafy Janjanlani and Hilarion Santos, the alleged leader of the Raja Solaiman Movement (RSM), a group of Christians who converted to Islam.
"Funds from the Jemaah Islamiah and Al-Qaeda were being sent to that account," said Alimuddin, who has agreed to turn state witness against Santos and six other Raja Solaiman members.
"The money that goes to that account is used by the Abu Sayyaf and the RSM in their armed struggle against the government," he added.
Alimuddin said that just before his arrest last month, he had withdrawn 10,000 pesos to finance the RSM's daily operations.
Mr Ricardo Blancaflor, director of the anti-terror task force, said last year, his men arrested three money-changers who had been passing funds to an Abu Sayyaf cell.
"We believe we have handicapped that cell. But I am not saying other cells are no longer using that channel," he said.
Militants in the country are also believed to be receiving funds through Islamic organisations established by Arab missionaries in the early 1990s. Three militants convicted for their role in the Valentine Day's bombings in three Philippine cities had confessed that they spent 19,000 pesos to stage the attacks.
* Filipino militants bank on money-changers (The Straits Times, Nov 25)