PASS ANTI-TERROR LAW, PNP URGES CONGRESS
MANILA, October 14, 2002 (STAR) By Christina Mendez - Two top Philippine National Police (PNP) intelligence officials have urged Congress to pass into law the anti-terrorism bill to help police and the military pin down suspected terrorists.
Chief Superintendent Roberto Delfin, PNP director for intelligence, and intelligence group director Chief Superintendent Jaime Caringal told The STAR in separate interviews the absence of an anti-terrorism law has prevented police from charging in court Jordanian Mohammad Amin Al-Ghaffari.
"The lack of an appropriate law is giving us a hard time to pin down alleged terrorists or those perceived to be funding terror activities in the country," Caringal said.
Agents of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) arrested Al-Ghaffari in a restaurant in Greenhills, San Juan last Monday on suspicion he was involved in the Oct. 2 terrorist bombing in Zamboanga City in which an American Green Beret was killed and 26 other people, one of them another American soldier, wounded.
Delfin wants Congress to pass a law empowering police to detain suspected terrorists for "custodial investigation" for 30 days without them being charged in court.
House Bill 3802, entitled "An Act Defining Terrorism, Providing Penalties, Therefore and for Other Purposes," seeks to empower law enforcers to make arrests without a warrant, intercept communications, inquire into bank accounts and freeze them.
"Terrorism is the premeditated use or threatened use of violence or means of destruction against innocent civilians or non-combatants, or against civilian and government properties, to instill a state of common danger, panic or fear intended to influence an audience, regardless of motivations," read part of the bill.
The bill is authored by Ilocos Norte Rep. Imee Marcos.
If passed into law, the bill would empower law enforcers to inquire into bank accounts and seize the assets of suspected terrorists.
An anti-terrorist action council would also be set up and would be comprised of representatives from the Departments of Justice, Interior and Local Government, National Defense, and Transportation and Communications; and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
PNP chief Director General Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. has called for an amendment of the Anti-Wiretapping Act and the procedures on investigation to enable police to better fight terrorism.
Ebdane said he supports the creation of special courts and detention centers for suspected terrorists and their warrantless arrest and 30-day detention without charges.
House Bill 3802 seeks a penalty of life imprisonment to death for convicted terrorists and a fine of P10 million if the penalty imposed is life.
Those convicted of "acts preparatory to terrorism" would be jailed from 20 to 30 years and fined P5 million.
Criminal acts considered in "furtherance of terrorism" includes the assassination of the President of the Philippines, the Vice President, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Senate President or the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
In 1995, Philippine intelligence officials uncovered a terrorist plot known as Operation Plan: Bojinka.
The plan was very similar to last year’s Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the United States, with international flights bound for the US as targets of terrorist bombing.
Delfin told The STAR arrested terrorist Abdul Hakim Murad confessed to him in 1995, when he was intelligence group director, that Muslims were exacting revenge on the US for helping Israel and supplying war materiél that cause the death of many Muslims.
Murad, a Pakistani, was arrested during a police-military raid at Room 603, Josefa Apartments along Quirino Avenue in Malate, Manila on Jan. 7, 1995.
An attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II, who was visiting Manila at that time, was also thwarted after the arrest of Murad.
Documents obtained by The STAR from the PNP showed that Murad was a member of a terrorist cell operating in the country under Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, who was eventually arrested in Pakistan, and Wali Khan, who has been arrested in Malaysia.
Murad was later extradited to the US.
Murad, Yousef and Khan were tried and convicted in New York for the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
Al-Qaeda network in RP and Asean
Right after Sept. 11 last year, Filipino military officials revealed that al-Qaeda planned to set up an Islamic state encompassing Indonesia, Malaysia and Southern Philippines.
Riduan Isammudin, alias Hambali, was tagged as the central figure in al-Qaeda terrorist network of Osama bin Laden in Southeast Asia.
Hambali, a veteran of the Soviet-Afghan war, is al-Qaeda’s pointman who has plotted the most ambitious terrorist attack on the US and its allies.
These included last year’s Sept. 11 terrorist attack on New York and the Pentagon and the foiled plot codenamed Bojinka.
Hambali met Yousef and Khan in Afghanistan where they fought with the mujahedeen to drive out Soviet occupation troops and the Soviet-installed communist government.
The military also believes that the Abu Sayyaf band under Hector Janjalani is a terrorist cell being operated by al-Qaeda’s Southeast Asian network.
The Abu Sayyaf became notorious for the Ipil Massacre in 1995, the kidnapping of teachers and students in Basilan and the snatching of 21 mostly European tourists from Sipadan off Sabah in 2000, and the kidnapping of foreign tourists, including American missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham from the Dos Palmas Resort in Palawan in May last year.
Martin and another hostage, Filipina nurse Edibora Yap, were killed in a clash between their kidnappers and government troops in the jungles of Zamboanga del Norte last June 7.
Gracia was rescued and brought back to the US.
Police arrested Al-Ghozi during a raid in a rented apartment in Quiapo, Manila last January.
After interrogation, he led police to a cache of explosives in a house in General Santos City.
Al-Ghozi later pleaded guilty to charges of illegal possession of explosives in court and he was sent to jail for 12 years.
He was also convicted of falsification of public documents and holding several false Philippine passports.
Al-Ghozi was tagged as the operations officer of the Singapore-based Jemaah Islamiya, which is believed to have planned terrorist attacks on American and Israeli targets in the city state.
Intensified cooperation between Singapore and the Philippines led to the arrest of Al-Ghozi.
Before Al-Ghozi’s arrest, 13 members of Jemaah Islamiya who were nabbed in Singapore pointed to Al-Ghozi’s whereabouts in the Philippines.
They also admitted taking part in a plot to bomb US and other western targets in Singapore.
Known as "Mike," Al-Ghozi was the leading figure in the terrorist campaign to attack several targets, including the US and Israeli Embassies.
Singapore’s Home Affairs Ministry said the 13 are being held without trial in accordance with the city state’s tough Internal Security Act.
Three months later police and airport security arrested three Indonesians while about to board their flight at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Police seized bomb-making components from among the personal belongings of Agus Dwikarna, Tamsil Linrung, and Abdul Balfas.
Linrung and Balfas were later released from detention after talks between President Arroyo and Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri.
Last July, the Pasay City Regional Trial Court sentenced Dwikarna to 12 years after finding him guilty of charges of illegal possession of firearms.
He remains jailed at the heavily guarded headquarters of the intelligence group in Camp Crame in Quezon City.
Intelligence sources said Jemaah Islamiya member Faiz Bin Bakar Bafala admitted to Singapore police during interrogation that his group was behind the bombing of the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia in Aug. 1, 2000.
Bafala, who was arrested in Singapore, is a suspected leader and financier of Jemaah Islamiya.
Police have tagged Al-Ghozi and Dwikarna in the 2000 Rizal Day bombings in Metro Manila, which killed many shoppers and commuters and injured scores of other people.
On that fateful Dec. 30, bombs were exploded one after the other at the Light Rail Transit station in Blumentritt and Plaza Ferguson across the US Embassy in Manila, a passenger bus in Cubao, Quezon City, an empty lot beside a hotel in Makati City and a parking lot at the cargo terminal of NAIA in Parañaque City.
Military sources said Al-Ghozi funded the terrorist operation through Yukus Moklis, a commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front 33rd division, as part of Jemaah Islamiya’s retaliation against the Estrada administration.
Dwikarna was said to be present when members of the Jemaah Islamiya plotted the Rizal Day bombings.
Being a bomb expert, Al-Ghozi was ordered to carry out the bombing mission.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2002 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
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