DOJ witness to describe how V-Day bombing was planned

- Michael Punongbayan -
The confessed member of the Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM) who agreed to turn state witness will finally reveal how his group planned the Valentine’s Day bombings with the help of the Abu Sayyaf and the Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terror network.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said Malik Alimuddin will submit his eight-page sworn statement tomorrow to Makati City regional trial court Branch 146 Judge Encarnacion Moya where he is among those charged with rebellion.

Although DOJ officials refused to reveal the contents of Alimuddin’s sworn statement, sources said it reveals plans by the terror group to launch "retaliatory" bomb attacks in Metro Manila and other key cities in the country.

A ranking DOJ official told The STAR that Alimuddin signed his affidavit last Oct. 28 before Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez detailing the alleged bombing plans by the RSM and its terror affiliates.

The official said Gonzalez agreed to utilize Alimuddin as a state witness based on his sworn statement detailing the terror plans.

Alimuddin will be utilized as a state witness against captured RSM founder Hilarion del Rosario Santos III along with the other suspects who were charged with rebellion by the DOJ.

Also charged were Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khaddafy Janjalani, Jainal Sali, also known as Abu Solaiman; a certain Police Officer 3 San Amdal, Khalil Pareja, Pio de Vera, Abdul Kareem Ayeras, Omar Lavilla, Mike Rueca and Ashty Dan.

Based on his sworn statement, Alimuddin said he was with Janjalani, Solaiman and convicted terrorists Rohmat Abdurrohim, Angelo Trinidad and Gammal Baharan when they planned the bombing of a passenger bus in Makati City on Valentine’s Day this year in which four people were killed and several others wounded.

Alimuddin claimed the bombing was carried out by RSM and Abu Sayyaf on orders of the JI.

Alimuddin said Gappal Bannah Asali alias Boy Negro, a confessed Abu Sayyaf bandit who was utilized as state witness by the DOJ in the conviction of Abdurrohim and his two colleagues, was also present when the bombing was being planned.

"Nabanggit din noon nila matapos mahuli sina Boy Negro na maghanda kami para maipaghiganti ang pagkakahuli sa kanila (It was mentioned that after Boy Negro and company were arrested that we should prepare to avenge their arrest)," Alimuddin said in his statement.

Following the death verdict by the Makati court on Abdurrohim and the two Abu Sayyaf bandits, Alimuddin added the group decided to launch retaliatory attacks.

"Ang paghihiganti ay sa pamamagitan ng karagdagang pagpapasabog sa ibat-ibang lugar lalo na sa Metro Manila
(Revenge through varied bomb attacks in different places especially Metro Manila)," he said.

Alimuddin confessed the Abu Sayyaf had plans to strike in Makati City but was apparently prevented by the recent arrest of Santos and his cohorts in Zamboanga City.

"Yanigin ang korte ng Makati! Padanakin ang dugo para kay Allah
(Shake up the Makati court! Let blood spill for Allah)!" was, according to Alimuddin, the battle cry of the Abu Sayyaf and the RSM.

Alimuddin said the plans to bomb Makati City was to show to the public that the Abu Sayyaf and the JI are a force to reckon with.

"Kailang ulit kumalat ang dugo sa Makati, dapat mas malagim kaysa noong Valentine’s Day. Ipakita sa mundo ang bangis ng Abu Sayyaf at Jemaah Islamiya (When blood spills again in Makati it will be worse than the Valentine’s Day bombing)," Alimuddin said in quoting Janjalani and Abu Solaiman ordering their henchmen.

The military earlier disclosed of plans by the RSM to launch retaliatory attacks following the death verdict.

A few weeks before his capture, Santos was with Janjalani and Umar Patek, an Indonesian member of the al-Qaeda-linked JI and a key suspect in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people in Indonesia.

The RSM is composed mostly of Christians who have converted to Islam. The group is said to have forged an alliance with the Abu Sayyaf and the JI, intelligence officials said.

The military has linked the RSM to the SuperFerry 14 firebombing attack last year that killed more than a hundred people, and a string of bombs on Feb. 14 this year that killed at least seven people and injured more than 60 in Makati City and the southern cities of Davao and General Santos.

Alimuddin, on the other hand, earlier pleaded not guilty to the charges of rebellion.

He later pleaded guilty to the charges after eight of his co-accused had been arraigned.

Assisted by his lawyers and Senior State Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco, Alimuddin will again face the court but this time, as a state witness.

If the court rules that Alimuddin qualifies as a state witness, he will be the DOJ’s newest "Boy Negro" and will be placed under the Witness Protection Program (WPP).

Alimuddin will be kept in a safehouse away from the rest of the accused who are under the custody of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

The charges against him, being state witness, will be dropped in exchange for his testimony favoring the prosecution against his own comrades in the RSM and the Abu Sayyaf.

It was also learned that Alimuddin, despite his "terrorist-look" is actually a forestry graduate of the Western Mindanao College.

The DOJ earlier declared Alimuddin will also reveal the legal advisers and media handlers of the RSM and the Abu Sayyaf.

Velasco claimed Alimuddin had earlier surrendered to the police and expressed his willingness to detail the plans of both terror groups to carry out bomb attacks in Metro Manila.

He said the witness had also identified a "media adviser" trying to project an image "to make the government look like the oppressor."

According to Velasco, the new witness "has been bothered by his conscience" in carrying out terror activities "in the name of Allah."

Velasco was the main prosecutor in the bombing case that sentenced to death Abdurrohim and the two Abu Sayyaf bandits in the Valentine’s Day bombings.

He warned of retaliatory attacks following the death verdict on the three convicts.

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