SUSPECTED BRAINS OF DAVAO WHARF BOMBING NABBED

Davao City, April 8, 2003
Combined police and military operatives arrested on Sunday the alleged key
planner in the April 2 bombing of the Sasa wharf in Davao City which left
16 people dead and at least 59 others wounded.

The arrest of the suspect, whose identity was withheld, led to the
conclusion that the bombing of the Davao wharf and the powerful bomb that
ripped through the waiting shed of the Davao International Airport last
March 4 were carried out by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with
the help of a regional Islamic group, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

Sources in the police and military intelligence disclosed to The STAR that
the arrested suspect is a ranking leader of the MILF which planned both
bombings.

Police are also hunting down five Indonesians who reportedly helped carry
out the attack on a row of food stalls at the Sasa wharf.

Philippine National Police (PNP) director for intelligence Chief
Superintendent Robert Delfin said the same suspects were involved in the
bombing of a resort in Bali, Indonesia last Oct. 12 which left almost 200
people dead, about half of them Australians on holiday. The five
Indonesians are suspected members of JI. They were identified only as
Nasruddin, Sulaiman, Zulkifli, Haj Akhmad and Hamja.

Delfin said the five were monitored in Central Mindanao before the April 2
bombing of the Davao wharf.

"The information was relayed to us by foreign counterparts after the (April
2) blasts to help us in the investigation," Delfin said. "We received the
report that Nasruddin was also involved in the Bali bombings."

Delfin made the disclosure a day after Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte
tagged the JI as responsible for last week's bombing.

The JI , a regional Islamic group linked by Western intelligence agencies
to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, carried out the deadly bombings in
Bali.

Delfin said the bombers, operating independently from the MILF but still
part of the rebel organization, represented the JI terror cell in the
Philippines.

He confirmed the suspicions of Duterte that the MILF's special urban
terrorist action group (Sutag) carried out the bomb attack. He said the
five Indonesians had direct links with Sutag.

The information was further bolstered by reports that two of the five
Indons were spotted on the outskirts of Davao City before the bombing,
Delfin said.

Delfin disclosed the same group of suspects were identified by detained
Indonesian Fathur Rohman Al-Ghozi, as the ones who helped him establish
contacts with the MILF in 2001.

Delfin identified Sulaiman as the one who concealed a ton of explosives at
the backyard of a mosque in General Santos City following Al-Ghozi's arrest
January last year.

Delfin also claimed Sutag is operating independently from the MILF but is
closely affiliated with Muklis Yunos, leader of the MILF's Special
Operations Group tagged among those behind the Dec. 30, 2000 bombings in
Metro Manila.

Delfin said the PNP is still awaiting the final results of the
investigation of the local police with the help of the Australian police
forensics team to determine if the Indonesian suspects were behind the
wharf blast. The Australian forensics team assisted in the investigation of
the Bali bombing which led to the conclusion that the JI was involved.

"It will take us two to three days to come up with the final results,"
Delfin said. He also stressed the possibility that JI could launch further
attacks.

Incoming Armed Forces chief Lt. Gen. Narciso Abaya also confirmed the
presence of the JI in Central Mindanao.

Abaya stressed, however, indications that the MILF could be behind the
bombings.

"The MILF leadership keeps on denying this (bombings and terrorism
involvement). We know and they (MILF) know that these (suspects) are their
followers," Abaya said. (By Jaime Laude and Christina Mendez, Star)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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