Inside out

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WITH TERROR SUSPECT’S ARREST: Metro bomb plot bared

Posted by Abi Kwok on December 12, 2008

By Abigail Kwok, Tarra Quismundo
INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 15:13:00 12/12/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 3) A suspected member of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front planning to carry out bomb attacks in key cities around the country has been arrested, officials said Friday.

Guiamalodin Edsrafil, 24, alleged to be working with wanted MILF commander Ameril Ombra Kato, was arrested in the village of Tamontaka in an operation that involved “virtually the entire intelligence community,” Philippine National Police Intelligence chief Director Dante Ferrer said.

PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa said Edsrafil was a member of the “Big Seven,” a group of bomb operatives identified with the MILF Special Operations Group of Basit Usman.

“I am happy to announce that government security forces have foiled an elaborate plan by separatist and extremist groups to sow terror in some key cities in the country, including Metro Manila,” Verzosa told reporters.

He said Edsfaril, aliases Jams and Parhan Salik, had admitted the MILF and the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group jointly planned to bomb several targets in major cities across the country.

While thrifty with details about the arrest, the PNP said bomb materials were seized from Edsrafil’s hiding place: three electric blasting caps, six inches of detonating cord, and two Christmas light bulbs to be used as an “igniter.”

“These bomb components were reportedly intended for another bombing operation in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Shariff Kabunsuan in the evening of the same day targetting the camp of the 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army,” Ferrer said.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had cancelled her trips to Mindanao Friday on the advice of military commanders.

Edsrafil was arrested by Cotabato City police last Tuesday based on an existing warrant of arrest, said Verzosa. He is a suspect in at least six bombing attacks in Mindanao since 2005, police said. Two of the attacks occurred this year.

Verzosa said his arrest “effectively neutralized” the “notorious terrorist cell” blamed for the March 2005 Ecoland bus terminal bombing and recent attacks in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Shariff Kabunsuan, and Isulan, Sultan Kudarat.

“The arrest of Edsrafil revealed a network and command structure with direct links to key personalities in the MILF and the ASG, from whom bombing orders emanated,” said Verzosa.

Edsfaril pointed to Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon as the source of funds for terror operations, Verzosa said, adding Hapilon would simply wire money to the bank accounts of MILF members.

He was flown from Cotabato City to the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame Friday.

Edsfaril’s arrest came on the eve of a foiled bombing operation in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Shariff Kabunsuan targetting the camp of the 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, Verzosa said.

“I think we have enough cases to detain or place into custody the arrested person,” Verzosa said.

Edsrafil’s arrest was made through followup operations conducted after last week’s arrest of alleged bomb-maker Mohammad Rafiquella, a Bangladeshi suspected to have operated a cellular phone repair shop as front for terror activities.

The PNP claimed that an undisclosed amount of money was sent to Edsrafil’s group on November 27 to carry out the Army base attack.

The southern Philippines has also been rocked by renewed fighting between government forces and Muslim extremist groups such as the MILF and the Abu Sayyaf.

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