Monday, August 28, 2006

Bomb Fears As Al-Qaeda Allies Arrive In Manila

Philippine police fear bombings during the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks as an intelligence report warns two explosive experts from an al- Qaeda-linked group have arrived in the capital, according to a government report. The two experts belong to the Rajah Solaiman Movement, according to the confidential security assessment report. The Rajah Solaiman Movement is a small group of Filipino converts to Islam which has been linked to a number of deadly assaults, including a February 2004 bombing that gutted a popular ferry and killed 116 people in one of Southeast Asia's worst terrorist attacks. It has worked with other al-Qaeda- linked groups, such as the Indonesia- based Jemaah Islamiyah and the small Abu Sayyaf band in the southern Philippines, in plotting attacks and undertaking joint terror training on impoverished southern Mindanao island, according to Philippine military officials."Numerous reports which suggest the possibility of bombing attacks are the major concerns at present," the report said. "With the anniversary of the September 11 al-Qaeda attack fast approaching and the developments in Lebanon, sympathetic attacks should not be discounted," it said. The report did not say whether the two alleged bomb experts were planning to attack a specific target in the capital but it said the presence of Rajah Solaiman members has led to terrorist assaults in the recent past. It cited the group's involvement in last year's Valentine's Day bombing of a passenger bus in the capital's Makati financial district that killed four people and wounded more than 60 others. US and Australian officials have been concerned by the reported existence of terror training camps in the southern Philippines which they said could produce militants that could launch attacks anywhere. The Philippine military has said it has destroyed major training camps used in the south by Filipino and Indonesian militants, who are mostly on the run from continuing offensives.