Manila – It has been called the region's "weakest link" in the global war against terror. Now, the Philippines has been tagged as the Southeast Asian nation with the most number of terrorist groups in operation. According to the US National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), 10 terror groups are currently operating in thePhilippines and they are responsible for at least 25 terrorist attacks that occurred between January and May this year.
The NCTC has a total of 786 groups in its database. Of these groups, 36 operate in Southeast Asia and the Oceania region. Among the groups on the NCTC list are Abdurajak Janjalani Brigade, Abu Sayyaf Group, Alex Boncayao Brigade, Free Vietnam Revolutionary Group, Indigenous People's Federal Army, Jemaah Islamiah, Kumpulan Mujahidin Malaysia, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front, the New People’s Army and the Al-Qaeda.
Of the groups active in the Philippines, the most prominent organisations are the Abu Sayyaf, Jemaah Islamiah, the New People’s Army and the Al-Qaeda. The latter is also believed to be funnelling funds to train terror cells in the Philippines.
The Philippines had earlier been described as Asia's weakest link in the war against terror due to its weak intelligence gathering and the absence of anti-terror legislation.
*US tags RP terror hub in SE Asia (The Manila Times, Sept 20)