Philippine military on alert for 'sleeper cells'

Updated On: Mar 11, 2005

Manila– The Philippine military is on the alert for terrorist “sleeper cells”hiding in two districts inQuezon City. The two districts,MaharlikaVillageinTaguigCityand Culiat district inQuezon City, are both mainly Muslim areas.

“Terrorists depend a lot on sleeper cells. They cannot bring a new face here,” National Capital Region Command (NCRCom) chief Lt-GenAllan Cabalquinto told reporters on March 8 atCampAguinaldomilitary headquarters.

The supplier of the explosives in the Valentine's Day bus bombing inMakatiCity, Gappal Bannah, allegedly hid in the Maharlika village, as did Rahib Buday, an alleged accomplice in the bomb attack on the SM Megamall shopping centre in 2000.

Lt-Gen Cabalquinto also revealed that the authorities were monitoring at least 10 suspected Abu Sayyaf members in Metro Manila.

He said the Abu Sayyaf staged the attacks to divert the military's attention from Sulu, where they are fighting renegade members of the Muslim separatist Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The Abu Sayyaf is a small group of extremists founded in the early 1990s. After engaging in criminal activities and kidnapping dozens of foreigners,the group was placed onWashington's list of terrorist organisations.

However, experts say thatit is fast becoming a major terror threat in the region and is believed to be enjoying the support of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), blamed for the October 2002 Bali bombings.

* Military on the lookout for terror cells in Metro (Inquirer News Services, March 8)