General Santos City (Philippines) – The “unholy alliance” between several militant groups in South-east Asia has facilitated the terrorists’ movements in the region.
According to intelligence supplied by Malaysia to the Philippine military, members of the militant Jemaah Islamiah (JI) are posing as fishermen to enter thePhilippines. A report by the Malaysian intelligence said the militants were arrested aboard Philippine-registered fishing boats off the coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island.
The boat carried registration documents issued by the maritime office in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which remains a troubled spot despite a 2002 ceasefire signed between the Philippine government and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). At least two had figured in bomb attacks in Indonesiain the past few years, including the Bali bombing on Oct 12, 2002, a ranking Philippine military official told The Manila Times on Jan 25. He said Malaysia had "advised" the Philippine Navy and the Coast Guard to inspect fishing boats and their crew to prevent foreign militants from slipping into the country.
The Philippine Armed Forces have said that an "unholy alliance" has been established among three better-known militant groups in South-east Asia: The MILF; the JI, which seeks to establish an Islamic state in Indonesia, Malaysia and Mindanao; and the Abu Sayyaf, a small Muslim kidnapping group which has been linked to the Al-Qaeda network. JI bomb experts have been training MILF fighters in using explosives; the MILF and the Abu Sayyaf provide security for the foreigners.
* Alert out on JI terrorists posing as fishers (The Manila Times, Jan 26)