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Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Philippines: Terrorist group discovered "following the money"

Follow the Money | Maria Ressa's Blog Site:
The name of this just discovered group is Al Intlaqah, which Philippine intelligence reports say means “the beginning” or “take-off.” Allegedly based in Saudi Arabia, authorities say it is affiliated with Al-Qaeda. Interestingly enough, it uses the same networks Al-Qaeda exploited in the Philippines in the past.

The discovery began last February after the Philippine National Police arrested two Jordanian nationals Khalil Hassan Al-Ali and Walid Abu Aishe. Their interrogation led to another arrest two weeks ago of Jordanian Mohammed Amro Amayin. These three men have been long-time residents of the Philippines. They have businesses like a recruitment agency and a restaurant.

So they seem to be what spies would call “sleepers.” They built lives in Manila – they married locally and are raising their families in the Philippines. They have also been linked by authorities to the 1995 cell used by World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and his uncle, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the architect of 9/11.

That cell was set up in the late 80’s to provide a financing network for the spread of radical ideology and terrorist tactics. For example, homegrown groups like the MILF, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, received money through that network, while Ramzi Yousef trained members of the extremist group, the Abu Sayyaf, in bomb-making (although Yousef would later complain to authorities they weren’t trainable because they knew nothing but guns.)

According to Philippine intelligence reports, Al Intlaqah is planning attacks targeting the US, British, Australian and Israeli embassies as well as a museum in the financial center Makati. Some newspaper reports quoted an official saying it included an assassination plot against Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, but we found that the Arabic documents recovered by authorities did not support that claim. It merely planned surveillance of the presidential convoy. Perhaps they came to that conclusion by inference.

More alarming for authorities, the Arabic documents included 16 pages full of chemical formulas from a Palestinian bomb-making Web site authorities said was called Palintafada. It also included a plan to release someone named in the documents as “Laskar” – who authorities say they believe is Ahmad Santos, who lived and was radicalized in Saudi Arabia. He is also the head of the Rajah Solaiman Movement, an extremist group of Christian converts – which has all but been neutralized after his arrest.

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