Domestic terror group behind threats

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /30 June) – A “domestic terror group,” not an international terror group is behind the recent threats of terrorist acts here and other key cities in Mindanao, the Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson said.

Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, chief of the PNP’s Public Information Office told ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) Monday morning that the group behind the recent threats is a “domestic terror group.”

Sindac did not name the group but said “we can resolve this issue within our level.”

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Public Affairs Office, said security measures are being put in place to make people aware of such a threat but Zagala added, “we do not want to cause undue panic.”

President Aquino on Thursday informed Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of the alleged terror threat, prompting the latter to place the city under heightened alert.

Zagala said reports about the involvement of Abdulbasit Usman are still being validated. Usman is reportedly a bomb-making expert with links to the Abu Sayyaf Group and Jemaah Islamiyah.

The military is currently pursuing Usman, who is believed to training members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and who allegedly evaded capture during military operation on his hideout in Maguindanao on June 10.

The US State Department has offered a $1-million bounty for his killing or capture for his alleged involvement in a spate of bombings in the country. In January 2010, he was reported killed by an American drone aircraft near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.

But the Philippine military later said Usman who was with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front but was expelled from the group for carrying out unauthorized bomb attacks, was alive and hiding in Mindanao.

There has been no conclusive proof on what really happened to Usman after reports came out that he had joined the BIFF. (MindaNews)