Death of alleged JI, Abu leaders ‘serious blow to transnational terrorism’

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/03 February) – The death of alleged Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Abu Sayyaf leaders has dealt a “serious blow against transnational terrorism,” a US envoy today said even if the bodies of the suspected terrorists were yet to be located.

US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Leslie Basset was reacting to reports that two foreigners suspected to be JI leaders and an alleged
Abu Sayyaf leader were among the casualties in an air strike launched by the military in Sulu on Thursday.

Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) chief Maj. Gen. Noel Coballes announced that the three were among the 15 JIs and Abu Sayyaf bandits killed in an air strike around 3 am Thursday in Barangay Duyan Kabau, Parang, Sulu.

Coballes identified them as Malaysian Zulkifli Bin Abdul Hir alias Marwan, Singaporean Muhamda Ali alias Muawiya and Abu Sayyaf leader Gumbahali Jumdail alias Dr. Abu Pula.

“It (the air strike) marked a very, very serious blow against transnational terrorism,” Basset said in a brief press conference.

The US official visited Mayor Celso Lobregat at City Hall Friday afternoon after arriving from nearby Basilan province where she
inaugurated a US-funded school building project.

The American government, through its Reward for Justice Program, has offered a $5-million reward for the capture of Zulkifli, who was
listed by the US as a most-wanted terrorist.

Muawiya, who was tagged as among those behind the 2002 Bali bombing, carries a $50,000 reward.

Basset however said “we have yet to confirm the identities first and then work from there” when asked if the US government was ready to release the reward.

Coballes said they were still validating the identities of the slain suspected JI and Abu Sayyaf leaders whose remains “are still to be

On Thursday, the Army official said they learned about the identities of the three suspected terrorists from “our intelligence on the
ground.” (MindaNews)