Philippines Muslim Cleric Hate
Muslim cleric nabbed for terror link
By FERNANDO M. CARIASO
UNDERCOVER operatives in
Maguindanao arrested a Muslim cleric linked to a series of bomb attacks in
various places in the country, military officials said yesterday.
AFP Public Information Office chief Col. Tristan Kison said Ustadz Abdulgani Pagao, said to be a member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) holding peace negotiations with the Arroyo administration, is now undergoing tactical interrogation in Manila.
Pagao was arrested near a military base in Awang, Maguindanao, last Tuesday, Kison said.
He said Pagao is being held for his alleged participation in numerous bomb attacks in Mindanao and Manila five years ago that resulted in the killing and injury of hundreds of people.
According to Kison, members of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group had conducted the operations while the military assisted in taking custody of the suspect.
Kison said there are reports that Pagao attended the same university in Tripoli, Libya, with the late Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, founder of Abu Sayyaf and older brother of present ASG chief Khadaffy Janjalani.
The military said the Abu Sayyaf has ties with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terror network.
PHILIPINES: MUSLIM CLERIC SUSPECTED OF HAVING LINKS WITH ABU SAYYAF DETAINED
Cotabato City, 4 August
(AKI) - A Filipino Muslim cleric was detained over alleged links with the Abu
Sayyaf terrorist organization, police and military officials told Adnkronos
International (AKI) on Friday. Senior Inspector Samson Obatay, the city's police
spokesperson, confirmed that Hussain Abedin was a suspected member of the group
Abu Sofia and was arrested at 7.00 pm at the terminal of Weena Buss Company in
Cotabato City, in Mindanao, southern Philippines on Thursday.
"He had existing arrest warrants and we have been looking for him," Obatay said.
Known for its kidnapping and ransom activities, Abu Sofia often provides sanctuary to members of the militant Islamist separatist group Abu Sayyaf and both organisations have been involved in terrorism.
Obatay said Abedin's arrest came 10 days after three other suspected Abu Sofia bandits were nabbed while holding meetings with their recruits in the village of Bulalo, in Sultan Kudarat town, Mindanao. The three – named Alo, Talip and Manan and all surnamed Binago - were involved in the abduction of Korean Jae Kwon Yoon and his Filipino partner Belonio, in February 2004.
Yoon and Belonio were snatched by heavily armed men in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat province, while surveying sites there for treasure hunting. The victims were released after relatives paid ransom.
Colonel Julieto Ando, the army's Sixth Infantry Division spokesperson, said that Abedin was also a renowned bomb-maker.
"He is also involved in bomb making. The suspect was detained at a military prison facility located in Pedro Colina Hill," Ando told AKI.
However, the arrest of the cleric has upset local Muslim militant organizations that have staged protests.
Amirah Lidasan, head of Suara Bangsamoro group, denounced Abedin's arrest, saying the victim is a Muslim cleric who belongs to United Youth Bangsamoro for Peace and Development, a non-government organization based in Maguindanao.
"We demand his immediate release. We denounce the use of Uztads (religious teachers) as fall guys of [Filipino] President Arroyo's renewed campaign against Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah in Mindanao," Lidasan told AKI in a telephone interview.
Demanding the release of Abedin is also Eid Kabalu, spokesperson for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), who confirmed that the cleric belongs to their organization.
"But he is not a member of any Abu Sayyaf group or kidnap gangs. He was a victim of mistaken identity," Kabalu said.
The MILF, which is engaged in peace talks with Manila, repeatedly denies links with Abu Sayyaf militants.
The Abu Sayyaf Group is a home grown terrorist organisation in the Philippines which in the early 1990s received financial support from the al-Qaeda terrorist network via Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law, Saudi Arabian businessman Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, who at that time headed a network of Islamic charities and universities in Zamboanga City, Mindanao.
The group gained international notoriety with the kidnapping for ransom and murder of foreigners and Christian clerics. Since its inception the group has also carried out bombings, assassinations and extortion in its fight for an independent Islamic state in western Mindanao
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