Manila- An Indonesian terror suspect arrested in thePhilippineslast week had some disturbing news for his captors: Twenty-three Indonesian bomb experts had just graduated from a Jemaah Islamiah's training group in thePhilippinesand were heading back to their homeland.
The 23 men completed jungle training that included lessons in explosives, weapons, combat and Islam, said Rohmat, an alleged JI member linked to simultaneous bombings in Manila and two other cities on Valentine's Day last month.
He was arrested on March 16 at a checkpoint inMaguindanao province after he was found to becarrying a .45-calibre pistol.
Rohmat told his captors that the southern Philippines had become a major training ground for the JI and that he himself had trained new recruits of the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group. He claimed that Abu Sayyaf leaderswere plotting more bombings and kidnappings.
The suspect saidthat when he left a JI camp called Jabal Qubah in southernMindanaoisland shortly before his arrest, 23 Indonesians recruits had just completed jungle training.
"I heard they would be sent back home and others would stay behind to train a new batch."
Rohmat, 26, said he taught Indonesians and local Abu Sayyaf recruits only Islam and martial arts. However, intelligence officials said Rohmat trained the Abu Sayyaf in bomb-making, particularly the use of mobile phones to trigger homemade explosives.
The details provided by Rohmat showed a close but highly compartmentalised relationship and between the JI and Abu Sayyaf, two of the most lethal groups inSouth-east Asiaand partly explained why the threat of terrorism has persisted despite years of crackdown.
* On the loose: 23 new terror bomb experts (The Straits Times, March 24)
* Terrorist trainer nabbed (The Manila Times, March 23)