Zamboanga City, April 8, 2003 -- Two Muslim men arrested by policemen for 
illegal possession of bomb chemicals in the southern Philippine port city 
of General Santos were members of the separatist rebel Moro Islamic 
Liberation Front (MILF), linked by Western intelligence to the al Qaeda 
network and the Indonesian terror group Jemaah Islamiya, a military said 

The duo Altaps Samadalan and Mustapha Panagas were arrested early Monday in 
Fatima village and police said they seized more than 100 kilos of ammonium 
nitrate used in manufacturing homebombs.

Police arrested the two after receiving intelligence reports that MILF 
rebels would smuggle explosives into the predominantly Christian city from 
Pikit town in North Cotabato province to bomb civilian and government 
targets in the southern Philippines, the military said.

The military said the two arrested rebels are members of the MILF's Special 
Operations Group (SOG), a unit that specialized in terrorism. The men said 
they would use the chemicals for blast fishing, but the police said it also 
seized from the rebels 20 litres of gasoline and about a kilo of yellow 
chemical powder, believed to be explosives.

Police and military are currently interrogating the rebels in General 
Santos City to find out if they have links with the group that bombed a 
busy seaport Apr. 2 in Davao City that killed 17 people and injured about 
50. Authorities have tagged the MILF and the al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya 
as behind the attack and that police are now hunting down five Indonesian 
nationals said to be behind the port attack.

The military said the MILF have previously targeted General Santos City. 
Last month, a homemade bomb explosion ripped through an internatioan 
airport in Davao City and killed and wounded scores of people inside the 
passenger terminal and Philippine authorities have tagged the MILF as 
behind the attack, although the Abu Sayyaf rebels claimed responsibility 
for the blast.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte have tagged the MILF, the Jemaah Islamiya 
and the al Qaeda network asbehind the seaport attack. He said the MILF's 
SUTAG or the Special Urban Terrorist Action Group is responsible in the 
blast. He said some of its members are from the Abu Sayyaf group.

Duterte said the SUTAG is the local counterpart of the al Qaeda which also 
has links with the JI, but he did not provide evidence of his allegations 
other than police intelligence reports. He also said the he expects more 
attacks in Davao City. He said some JI members are "embedded" with the MILF.

A television report on Monday night said an Arab man was arrested by the 
police in Toril district in Davao City, but there were no other details and 
police officials would not say anything.

Six Australian policemen have also arrived in Davao City over the weekend 
and are helping authorities investigate the bombing in Sasa wharf. Police 
have released sketches of two suspects, but there have been no arrests so far.

National police chief Roberto Delfin said the 5 Indonesians are alleged 
members of the Jemaah Islamiyah, said to be the Asian front for Osama bin 
Laden's al-Qaeda terror network.

The Indonesians were said to have carried out the bombings with SUTAG. 
"Five Indonesians are being eyed as suspects in the Sasa wharf bombing. All 
are suspected JI members with links to MILF special operation group...a 
manhunt has been launched against them," Delfin said.

President Arroyo has declared a state of "lawless violence" in Davao City 
because of the spate of bomb attacks there. The MILF has denied involvement 
in the attacks. (Al Jacinto PHNO Mindanao Bureau)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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