ANGELES CITY, NOVEMBER 14,  2003   (STAR) By Ding Cervantes - Up to 30 Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) militants are holed up in lairs in the general area of Cotabato, Sarangani and General Santos City, Immigration Commissioner Andrea Domingo revealed here yesterday.

Domingo said a foreign informer has provided the Bureau of Immigration (BI) with photos of the suspected terrorists.

She claimed the suspects belong to a "third wave" of JI militants with a mission to carry out terrorist attacks in the country.

"They have already been monitored. They belong to the military arm (of the JI) who conduct (terrorist) training. I have seen their pictures from a foreign independent source but we still have to get their names and determine their nationalities," Domingo told journalists here in an interview aired over the local Angeles City Cable Television Network.

"What I read in the reports coming from our operatives in Zamboanga is that they are in their lairs in Cotabato, General Santos and Sarangani and they have not gone out since they would surely be pinned down once they do," Domingo added.

She said the BI is "doing quite well" in the operations against suspected foreign terrorists in Mindanao with the help of the military.

"Filipinos, Malaysians, and Indonesians have close physical similarities, but the nationalities of those in the photos could be determined when we get their names from our source before the end of the year," Domingo said.

While direct threats from JI have been minimized in other parts of the country, including Metro Manila, Domingo said that "some activities" of JI have been reported even in Baguio City. She did not elaborate.

"There used to be some JI threat in Central Luzon as reported by (former Central Luzon police director Chief Superintendent Reynaldo) Berroya who arrested some of them in raids in Pangasinan and Tarlac... (the suspects) were espousing the Balik-Muslim movement, (but) the threat has dissipated with the arrest and deportation of two Jordanians who were reported to be funding the movement," she said.

In an earlier interview, Armed Forces deputy chief Lt. Gen. Rodolfo Garcia claimed JI members surreptitiously slip into target countries in three waves.

Those in the first wave are referred to as "sleepers" who establish themselves as respectable members of local communities, followed by a second wave who get information from those in the first wave for the identification of terrorist targets, and finally the third wave which carry out the terror plans.

Domingo said 20 to 30 JI militants in Mindanao belong to the third wave.

But she downplayed their capability to carry out terrorist plans arising from the arrest of other foreign terrorist suspects who have either been already arrested and remain in jail or have already been deported.

Domingo also said that those in the first wave "are directly connected with al-Qaeda network of international fugitive Osama bin Laden.

"And that seven of them have remained under BI detention while five more, including one suspected suicide bomber, have already been deported," she said.

She said the seven cannot be deported since they are also facing charges of illegal possession of firearms, aside from having no passports.

"Those in the first wave are Arabs who have money and are usually engaged in recruitment (of workers for jobs abroad) as fronts," Domingo noted.

Domingo also said that Indonesian Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi, who was recently killed in an alleged shootout with the military in Mindanao, belonged to the second wave of terrorists which financed JI operations.

Among those still under detention is Mahmud Abdhul Aziz who, Domingo said, could not be immediately deported as he is a Jordanian-Palestinian.

"He was involved in the selling of 15 pieces of real estate property of Khalifa, the brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden, in Zamboanga," Domingo said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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