MANILA, Philippines – Ten foreign nationals who are suspected members of a terror group are now in the Philippines, an intelligence expert warned Thursday.
The 10 are reportedly meeting with leaders of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and other militant groups in the country, said Professor Rommel Banlaoi of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence, and Terrorism.
Banlaoi, however, could not confirm if the arrival of the said foreign nationals has something to do with the new threat of terrorism not only in the Philippines but in other countries, particularly the United States.
Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Senior Superintendent Agrimero Cruz, meanwhile, said police have not recorded the entry of foreign terrorists in the country.
“As per our intelligence reports, there are no foreign terrorists in the country; no movements in local terror groups, either,” he said.
Former PNP intelligence chief retired Chief Superintendent Rodolfo “Boogie” Mendoza Jr., on the other hand, confirmed reports that terrorists are planning to attack vital government installations and tourist areas in Metro Manila and other places in the country.
Citing reports coming from independent sources, Mendoza said the terrorism threat is real, and that police discovered it as early as last year.
Mendoza said that as far as he knows, the terrorists’ plan to attack Manila was initially intended to be launched before the May 10 presidential elections.
The plan, however, was never executed.
It was only this week that the threat re-surfaced as confirmed by his sources from the Muslim community.
He added that the group out to sow terror is a composite team from the ASG, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Special Operations Group, and Southeast Asian militant organization Jemaah Islamiyah.
The objective of the group is to make their presence felt so that they can unlock funds coming from international terrorists group, he revealed.
According to Mendoza this is the same group that was involved in the Rizal Day bombing of the Light Rail Transit in December 2000 and the Valentine's Day bombing in 2005.
The Armed Forces said they are not taking the threat for granted.
“We have been getting all sorts of reports such as this from various sectors about terrorist groups coming in,” said Brigadier General Jose Mabanta, Armed Forces spokesman.
“But at this time there is nothing certain about these reports. However, all of these will be considered and reports such as this should not be taken for granted.” -- from a report by Henry Omaga-Diaz, ABS-CBN News