MANILA, December 3, 2003  (STAR) A brother of slain terrorist Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi is helping train foreign and local terrorists in a camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the mountains of Lanao del Norte, military intelligence sources said yesterday.

Muhajir al-Ghozi reportedly sneaked into Mindanao from South Sulawesi in Indonesia shortly after his brother was killed in an encounter with troops in Pigkawayan, North Cotabato last Oct. 12.

Intelligence sources said Muhajir, alias Idris, has been supervising the training as terrorists of two dozen Indonesians recruited into Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) at Mt. Kararaw in Munai town.

"Tuluy-tuloy and kanilang training doon sa Mt. Kararaw," an intelligence source said, adding the mountain is heavily fortified by the MILF and which troops cannot enter due to the ceasefire.

Muhajir is preparing foreign and local terrorists for a mission to wreak havoc in the country, military intelligence sources added.

At Camp Siongco in Maguindanao, Maj. Gen. Generoso Senga, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said his troops have been pursuing JI members in known MILF strongholds.

"We will not hesitate to neutralize them anywhere they are once seen by our units," he said.

Speaking over Catholic-run radio station dxMS in Cotabato City, Senga said local officials in Maguindanao have been helping the 6th ID locate the whereabouts of JI terrorists in the province.

Senga said the 6th ID has deployed more than a hundred intelligence agents in strategic areas in Maguindanao to track down JI terrorists from Cotabato City and neighboring towns.

The division’s two anti-crime units, Task Force Cotabato and Task Force Tugis, have sealed entry and exit points in the province to restrain the movements of suspected JI terrorists, he added.

President Arroyo had warned that troops will not hesitate to pursue JI terrorists in MILF strongholds, despite peace talks with the separatists.

"(The government) will not allow the peace process to stand in the way of the overriding fight against terrorism," she said.

"(We) will not hesitate to pursue terrorists wherever they are and whenever they are pinpointed."

Defense Secretary Eduardo Ermita, quoting intelligence reports, said at least 31 JI terrorists were training MILF guerrillas in bomb-making at Mt. Kararaw and other known MILF strongholds in Central Mindanao.

An intelligence report said al-Qaeda terrorists have recently given a JI handler $15,000 to pay for the training.

The money was reportedly received and disbursed by Indonesian-born Al-Ghozi before he was gunned down in a shootout with troops in North Cotabato.

"MILF formations will have to stand off these pursuit operations, or actively support us in the same,"

National Security Adviser Roilo Golez said the government had accepted the declaration of the MILF that it would not cooperate with JI, and expects them to help the government go after the militants.

He said the government was putting up a P300-million reward for information leading to the arrest of terrorists, including JI members, as well as kidnappers.

But he said it was difficult to run after terrorists who slip across Southeast Asia’s porous borders, and who may have sleeper cells ready to be activated.

Golez said the Philippines is tightening security arrangements with neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia and enhancing border security in the hunt for terrorists, he added.

A region-wide security alert has been issued for key JI leaders, specifically Azahari bin Husin, an alleged Malaysian bomb expert educated in Britain, he added. — With John Unson

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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