‘MILF planned to bomb NAIA’

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) plotted to bomb the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) last year and has organized terrorist training in Mindanao, a military analysis of captured rebel documents indicated.

The documents also strongly indicate the MILF may be getting weapons and financial support from abroad, said a confidential military report seen by The Associated Press.

The MILF has been fighting for a separate Muslim state in Mindanao since the late 1970s. It has been blamed for bombings and other attacks that have killed over 200 people this year.

The military said it seized boxes of MILF documents during a major offensive in February on the rebel stronghold of Buliok, in the Liguasan Marsh straddling the provinces of Maguindanao and North Cotabato.

"The MILF had a standing plan to bomb airports using car bombs as early as 2002," the report said. Included among the targets was the NAIA, which the report said the MILF planned to bomb in February last year, but failed to attack for unexplained reasons. It said there were other plans to bomb unspecified airports last year, but that no attacks took place.

MILF officials were unavailable for comment, but rebel spokesman Eid Kabalu earlier said that the military may have fabricated the documents to support accusations that the MILF is linked to foreign terrorist groups and to justify military attacks.

The MILF has been accused of carrying out the February bombing near the gate of Awang airport in Maguindanao that killed a soldier and set a cluster of shops and restaurants ablaze, as well as a bomb attack outside Davao International Airport in March that killed 22 people, one of them an American missionary.

The MILF has denied involvement in both attacks and insist that they have no links with foreign terrorist groups. The authorities alleged the MILF is linked to the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and the al-Qaeda network, but the military report did not link the two.

Recovered from Buliok were receipts showing a large payment allegedly made by the MILF to a foreigner, identified as Rim Kyu-do, in what appeared to be an arms deal. Found with the receipts was a brochure about a midget submarine, indicating the rebels had planned to acquire one, the military said.

Also recovered were money wrappers from various Philippine banks that indicated the MILF withdrew over P6 billion between July 1999 and April 2001, the report said. There were no indications how the money was spent.

The volume of money that passed through the hands of the MILF, as evidenced by the documents examined, "strongly suggests foreign support," the report said.

An undated photograph of MILF chairman Hashim Salamat meeting a Libyan ambassador in Manila was also found.

The Libyan embassy was not immediately available for comment, but Libya has been involved in peace talks between the MILF and the Philippine government.

The military said the rebels were training for ambushes and assassinations, with one document showing that seven foreign-trained MILF men held a course on the manufacture of land mines between 2000 and 2002, according to the report. Even minors were being given military training, it said.

President Arroyo’s administration backed out of a planned resumption of peace talks with the MILF earlier this year after blaming the rebels for a series of terrorist and bombing attacks in the south.

The rebels recently renounced terrorism as demanded by Mrs. Arroyo and both sides resumed efforts at restarting talks with the help of neighboring Malaysia.
Firing squad
Meanwhile, confessed bomber Saifullah "Muklis" Yunos said he would prefer to die by firing squad as punishment for the Dec. 30, 2000 bombings in Metro Manila that killed 22 people and wounded over a hundred others.

He cried in remorse when photographs of the bomb attack victims were shown to him. During the preliminary investigation of the case on June 18, Yunos wept openly during a reunion of sorts with his co-accused, JI member Fathur Rohman Al-Ghozi. He also cried when he was told the MILF disowned him.

"I cannot say anything because I am not rich, were I rich, I would give money. Yes, I ask forgiveness," Yunos said in halting Filipino when asked what he wanted to say to the victims’ families.

Under Shari’ah or Islamic law, the families of victims may forgive a person accused of murdering their kin, and thus save the accused from the death penalty, if the accused pays "blood money."

Yunos said he did not mean to kill innocent civilians, but they became the victims of revenge upon the government for its assault on the MILF camps.

He does not want to stay in detention and have to think about the wrongdoing he believes he committed. "Kung sa kulungan, mag-isip kami, maraming isipan, pero di tayo sasaktan sa kulungan (If we are imprisoned, we will think many thoughts, but we will not be harmed in jail)."

Oo, nagkasala ako, inaamin ko na ang kasalanan ko... Nararamdaman ko yung mga nadamay sa pagbomba. Hindi ako natatakot kahit ma
-firing squad ako. Kaya ko (Yes, I have sinned, I admit my sin... I can feel the people who were caught up in the bombing. I am not afraid, even if I die by firing squad. I can face it)," he added.

For all the expressed remorse over the deaths of civilians in the bombings, Yunos said he was satisfied he avenged the fall of the MILF’s Camp Abubakar.

Yunos said he acted on his own in conducting the bomb attacks to avenge the deaths of thousands of his fellow Muslims during the military attacks on MILF camps, adding that nobody in the MILF ordered such bombings.
More charges against more suspects?
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is considering filing charges against two JI leaders who funded and administered the Rizal Day bombings.

Indonesian Riduan "Hambali" Isamuddin and Malaysian Faiz bin Abubakar Bafana were tagged by Al-Ghozi and Yunos. Both Al-Ghozi and Yunos admitted responsibility in the bomb attacks, State Prosecutor Peter Ong said.

Ong said evidence against Isamuddin and Bafana are being evaluated to determine the charges that may be leveled against them.

He said five or six other people — named by Al-Ghozi and Yunos as participants in the bomb attacks — could also be included in the charges.

The evidence that may be used against Isamuddin and Bafana include the statements of Al-Ghozi and Yunos that the two JI leaders came to the Philippines on Dec. 1, 2000 to personally monitor the developments in the planned bombings.

Al-Ghozi and Yunos said they fetched Isamuddin and Bafana from the airport upon their arrival — statements corroborated by the flight manifest of Malaysian Airlines.

Al-Ghozi also admitted owing an account at the Philippine National Bank (PNB) under the alias Edris Anwar Rodin.

A bank statement and a postal identification card bearing the Rodin alias were presented to the National Police Intelligence Group (NPIG) when they sought to reopen the investigation into the bombings.

The account, Al-Ghozi said, contained remittances from Bafana through a Malaysian bank worth P255,370, P60,000 and P129,000 from November 2000 to February 2001.

Cusain Ramos, alias Abu Ali, likewise named Isamuddin and Bafana as the people who led the Rizal Day bomb attacks. Ramos admitted to serving as a middleman when Al-Ghozi bought explosives in Cebu City.

"With this flight manifest, the bank accounts and inward remittances, we have concrete proof that what they are telling (us is) supported by documentary evidence from the bank and from Malaysian Airlines," he added.

Ong said the Philippine National Police (PNP) wants every person mentioned by Al-Ghozi and Yunos included in the charges of multiple murder filed against them.

The state prosecutor said two witnesses identified Yunos during the first preliminary investigation on June 18.

The witnesses were identified as Ana Marie Velasquez, a passenger of the Light Rail Transit that was bombed, and Nicomedes Lopez, a security guard at the LRT Tayuman station.

"They positively identified (Yunos), whom they said was uneasy at the time he alighted at the Tayuman station," Ong said. The bomb on board the LRT coach from which Yunos alighted exploded at the Blumentritt station, the next stop after Tayuman.

Ong said Yunos even advised Velasquez to get off the train as well. Aurea Calica











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