MANILA, Philippines - A terrorism research group has strong proof that Jemaah Islamiyah's (JI) bomb expert and alleged Abu Sayyaf trainer Umar Patek is in the Philippines.
A video provided by the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research to ABS-CBN News showed Patek carrying a rifle.
The group said the video was taken in Tawi-Tawi province just recently.
Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta initially denied the alleged presence of operatives of JI, a Southeast Asian terrorist network with links to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda, in the Philippines.
However, after seeing the video, Mabanta said: "This is the first time that you have very credible evidence."
Reports said Patek slipped into the country in 2002 and has since been training Abu Sayyaf members in bomb-making.
Intelligence expert, former police chief superintendent Rodolfo "Boogie" Mendoza, said Patek can assemble a bomb while blindfolded.
In the Rewards for Justice program of the United States, Patek is lined up with the most wanted terrorists in the world, including Bin Laden.
Patek is also the most wanted terrorist in Indonesia for his alleged involvement in the 2002 Bali bombing, which left at least 200 people dead. There were reports that the JI operative aided Abu Sayyaf in terrorist attacks in the Philippines.
Mendoza, meanwhile, said that Patek is actually connected with Mujahedeen KOMPAK based in Indonesia's Sulawesi province. There are accusations that the group is providing funding for the JI and other terrorist organizations.
Intelligence sources said that aside from Patek, 5 more foreign terrorists have slipped into the country.
There were also recent reports that 15 to 30 foreign terrorists are in various parts of the Philippines, which was denied by the military. -- Report from Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News