JI MEN PRESENT IN DAVAO CITY

DAVAO CITY, NOVEMBER 7, 2003  (STAR) By Edith Regalado — Mayor Rodrigo Duterte confirmed yesterday the presence of members of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), an Indonesian terrorist group with links to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network, in this southern city.

"Yes, there are JI elements in Davao City. And they are almost everywhere," Duterte told the five-man presidential commission tasked to investigate the military’s alleged involvement in the twin blasts that rocked this city early this year.

Duterte said JI elements, who are Muslim radicals, had a hand in the two bombings that left 39 people dead and over 200 others wounded.

"I know the perpetrators were not Muslims from Davao but Muslims from other areas who were instigated by Muslims from foreign lands. The orders to bomb came from the JI using elements of the MILF’s special operations group," he told the panel which conducted a hearing in one of the conference rooms of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas building here.

Duterte’s claim virtually belied the allegation of the so-called "Magdalo group," which was behind the failed July 27 mutiny in Makati City, that the military, particularly former Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes and former Armed Forces intelligence chief Brig. Gen. Victor Corpus, was involved in the bombings.

Duterte said JI members have entered Mindanao by air and sea via the southern backdoor, and that foreigners like Pakistanis, Afghans and Egyptians have undergone or themselves conducted terrorist training in the Buliok complex, a known enclave of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Pikit, North Cotabato which the military had overrun.

But Duterte gave assurance that the police and the military have been continuously monitoring the movements of JI elements in the city and its environs.

"We have identified the areas where they seek refuge. But we cannot divulge them," he said.

He added that there has a constant exchange of information on JI operations among countries concerned.

"Even the list of its other leaders and members has been passed on a long time ago," he said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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