3 JI terror suspects face raps

Posted at 03/04/2010 4:42 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Three men suspected of being local allies of the Jemaah Islamiyah militant group are facing charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives after they were caught with bomb-making materials Wednesday.

The three -- Abdul Racman, Asir Joher Demalon and Mujahid Demalon -- were arrested during a raid at Maharlika village in Taguig around 1 a.m.

Chief Superintendent Francisco Don Montenegro, the chief of the investigation division, said detonating cords, blasting caps and hand grenades were seized from the three.

Major General Rey Mapagu, head of military forces in Manila, said the seized objects indicated that the suspects were planning a bomb attack on "still undetermined targets."

"Available information points to the foreign terror group Jemaah Islamiyah as behind this foiled plot," Mapagu said. He refused to elaborate.

The three have an existing arrest warrant for murder, destructive arson, robbery with violence and intimidation of persons. Both the military and police linked the three men to Abdul Basit Usman, a Filipino bomb expert with ties to both the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiyah and for whose capture the US government has offered a million-dollar bounty.

The three, however, denied being members of the Abu Sayyaf and said they are former Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerillas who are trying to start a new life in Manila.

The Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for the worst terror attacks in Philippine history and have carried out numerous bombing and kidnapping attacks, mostly in the south.  With reports from Timi Nubla, ABS-CBN News; and Agence France-Presse