Philippines: April 1, 2004

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The government has set up a Bomb Information Center, a national organization to pass out information on possible terrorist bomb attacks, and collect national information on bombing incidents, or possible bombing attempts. Abu Sayyaf has threatened to launch a terror bombing campaign in the capital. Abu Sayyaf  members have been leaving their usual haunts in the south because of the intense anti-kidnapping campaign down there. Hundreds of American Special Forces troops and intelligence specialists have been helping out in these operations, as well as providing training. Abu Sayyaf , a splinter group of the larger MILF Moslem independence movement, has always been a combination of religious fanatics and bandits. That's why they were tossed out of the MILF. But Abu Sayyaf  scored big when they received some large ransoms from Libya two years ago, for the release of hostages they were holding. The money was used to buy the loyalty of locals, which made it difficult to track Abu Sayyaf members down. But some of the money went to buying weapons, explosives and the ability to travel freely. Some Abu Sayyaf  members have also apparently been in touch with the larger, regional Jemaah Islamiah organization.

Police arrested four Turkish men as suspected members of regional terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah. The four men were working as Arabic teachers in a private school. 

In addition, police say they have, in the past few days, arrested six of ten men belonging to a terrorist cell that was planning a terror bombing campaign in the capital. The cell is thought to be a joint effort between the Jemaah Islamiah and Abu Sayyaf Islamic terror groups. Weapons, and nearly a hundred pounds of explosives, has been seized as well. One of the suspects claims to have used a bomb, hidden in a TV set, to cause a fire that destroyed a ferry last month and killed over a hundred people. The investigation of the ferry loss has not been completed, but so far there is no evidence of a bomb causing the fire that sank the ship.

MILF has agreed to resume peace talks later in the month. 

 

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