Abu Sayyaf's bombing spree plot uncovered

Updated On: Feb 25, 2005

MANILA- The Abu Sayyaf, better known for their kidnapping exploits in southernPhilippines, had hatched a plot to cause havoc in the country by bombing shopping malls and key commercial establishments in theMakati financial district.

An intelligence official said the plot was revealed by two Abu Sayyaf-linked suspects who are now in police custody for the Valentine's Day bomb attack inMakati.

The two men, identified as Abu Khalil Trinidad and Gamal Baharan, were nabbed in a squatters' colony inMandaluyongCityon Feb 15.

They had reportedly confessed that they set off the bomb inMakatiCityon Feb 14. TheMakatiblast was one of three powerful explosions which rocked the country that day, killing 13 people and wounding 14 others.

According to these men, the Abu Sayyaf's targets includedOakwood PremierAyalaCenterand Glorietta shopping malland malls inMakatiCity,the official said.

These locations were also listed in text messages circulated on Feb 21 as areas of possible bomb attacks.

"These were confirmed messages since the suspects (Trinidadand Baharan) were spotted inthese areas prior to their arrests," the official said.

The Philippine military has also released its own two-page intelligence report on alleged Abu Sayyaf plans to bomb key cities in Mindanao and Central Visayas. The report said the bombing plot was hatched jointly by the Abu Sayyaf and the Abu Suffia group of Jemaah Islamiyah militants operating inMindanao.

The bombing run was supposed to occur anytime this week. The police and military have been placed in full alert in the supposed target areas.

* Abu suspects planned to bomb Metro malls (The Philippine Star, Feb 24)