Moro rebels call bin Laden 'martyr'
MANILA, Philippines - Slain terrorist leader Osama bin Laden was a "martyr" for his cause, a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leader said Monday.
Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice-chairman for political affairs, said he expects someone from al-Qaeda to take bin Laden's place as the leader of the terrorist network.
He said the secessionist MILF, which has been waging a decades-long battle against government troops in Mindanao, was not surprised by bin Laden's death.
Jaafar, in a text message to ABS-CBN News, said people involved in a struggle expect death like what happened to bin Laden.
He added that bin Laden's death has no direct effect on the MILF.
Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Eduardo Oban has described bin Laden's death as as "a victory for democracy" and "a triumph for peace-loving citizens in the fight against terrorism."
"The AFP is optimistic that Osama's death would lead to the eventual demise of the link of local terrorist groups with Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), which has links with bin Laden's al-Qaeda," he added.
Commodore Miguel Jose Rodriguez, AFP spokesman, said in a press briefing Monday that local terrorists could stage retaliatory attacks in response to bin Laden's killing by U.S. forces in Pakistan.
"There is always a possibility kaya pinaghahandaaan natin ito. We are always prepared for that," he said. "But we are sure na hindi nila kakayanin kasi nakahanda ang inyong pwersa sa bagay na ito."
"Our expectations (for retaliatory attacks) will always be there, that is why part of the security plan of the Armed Force is to always be vigilant. You know in terrorism, you will never know when you will get hit," he added.
Rodriguez said no additional troops will be deployed to either Metro Manila or Mindanao.
"Wala kaming nakikitang heightened threat for that," he said. "Wala kaming nakikitang retaliation coming from an external source because right now, iyung pagkamatay ni bin Laden is really a big blow sa terrorist movement sa boung mundo."
He also downplayed the abilities of JI to sow havoc in Southeast Asia.
"Iyung Jemaah Islamiyah, alam natin e napakaliit na na pwersa yan, at lalo na ngayon apektado sila sapagkat yung kanilang supporter na si Osama bin Laden ay wala na. Ngayon na wala na sya, e malaking dagok ito sa kanila at sa kanilang samahan."
Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, the spokesman of AFP Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, said the military's alert status in the region will remain at the normal white alert while government troops maintain their vigilance and conduct "normal operations."
The al-Qaeda network had provided financial support to the Abu Sayyaf in the 1990s through bin Laden's brother-in-law, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa. Al Qaeda collaborator Ramzi Yousef had also trained Abu Sayyaf members also in the 90s.
Yousef had been also linked to the failed assassination of Pope John Paul II under Oplan Bojinka when the latter visited the Philippines in January 1995 for the celebration of the World Youth Day. Yousef was arrested a month later in Pakistan.