Singaporean aiding Abus a JI member–Gonzales

MANILA, Philippines—A Singaporean terrorist aiding the Abu Sayyaf bandits holding three Red Cross aid workers in Jolo Island is a member of the dreaded Jemaah Islamiyah, officials said Thursday.

“He’s a member of JI. The Abu Sayyaf is the only organization that has an official tie-up with the JI,” National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said in a phone interview.

The JI, a radical Islamic terrorist group in Indonesia with links to al-Qaida, had long been suspected by the military of funding the Abu Sayyaf.

Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno said the Singaporean was serving as interpreter for the bandit group in its negotiations with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the government.

Technical expertise

Gonzales also confirmed reports that the Singaporean has linked up with the bandits holding the ICRC hostages on Jolo.

“It’s confirmed that he’s out there with the kidnappers. He’s helping out the Abu Sayyaf,” he said by phone, adding the Singaporean could be providing technical expertise to the bandit group.

Gonzales deferred to Puno to identify the foreigner and divulge the extent of the JI’s aid to the Abu Sayyaf.

But Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper said he could be Muawiyah, an Indian-Singaporean extremist who uses the alias Manobo.

Speaks English like Indian

Sen. Richard Gordon, the head of the Philippine chapter of the Red Cross, said Thursday he believes he was speaking to Muawiyah when negotiating by telephone with the kidnappers ahead of the March 31 deadline for the beheading of one hostage.

“They all called themselves Albader Parad,” he told a radio station Thursday, referring to the Abu Sayyaf leader, “but the person on the line spoke English like an Indian.”

Authorities have been tracking down the Singaporean, along with JI leader Omar Patek who, at one time, was believed to be hiding in Mindanao.

In and out of Mindanao

“They’ve been going in and out of Mindanao. They’re either with the Abu Sayyaf or some groups of the MILF,” Gonzales said, referring to the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

When the hostage crisis is over, the government will focus on wiping out the bandit group, Undersecretary Anthony Golez, deputy presidential spokesperson, said.

“We will be relentless in getting all bandits and terrorists in this country,” he said.

TJ Burgonio, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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Published in: on April 3, 2009 at 2:12 am  Comments Off on Singaporean aiding Abus a JI member–Gonzales  
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