Manhunt for wanted Abu Sayyaf leader Janjalani continues
Koronadal, South Cotabato (2 October) -- A major offensive has been underway for the last several weeks to capture the wanted Abu Sayyaf chief Khadaffy Janjalani. Janjalani is wanted in connection with multiple bombings and kidnappings carried out since 2000. His actions are responsible for the deaths of countless civilians and destruction of much property.
Janjalani is thought to be hiding deep in the jungle alongside two other notorious killers: the wanted Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists Umar Patek and Dulmatin. Both of these men are wanted in connection with the deadly Bali bombings of 2002. All three men are wanted internationally for their crimes.
Brigadier General Alexander Aleo, commander of military forces in Sulu, is confident these terrorists will be captured. "We are still tracking down the terrorists -- the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah -- and the hunt is centered on the mountains of Indanan and Patikul towns. Our operation is relentless, and we will get them dead or alive," he said. Their hiding place is difficult to find, and as many as 200 Abu Sayyaf fighters are said to be protecting the men. But they cannot hide forever.
Although the three wanted men have yet to be captured, security forces are making progress and have disrupted Abu Sayyaf activity in the area. Troops have seized up to 6,000 blasting caps and ten sacks of ammonium nitrate and have arrested a man, Mujahiri Malik, who is suspected to be an Abu Sayyaf member. "We suspect the explosives belonged to the Abu Sayyaf. We smell terrorism here," Aleo said. "They are similar to what the Abu Sayyaf has used in the past -- the bombings in Jolo and Zamboanga. They also have the same markings and are all made in India …. Six thousand blasting caps can make 6,000 improvised explosive devices that can kill a lot of people." Security has been tightened in the entire area since the arrest, with all ships and ports subject to increased observation. The criminals will not be allowed to succeed.
Capturing Janjalani is still the priority for security forces working in the area. Janjalani, also known as Abu Muktar, has served as head of the Abu Sayyaf Group since 2003. He was the group's chief bomb-maker from 2001 to 2002. He first came into the terror group as the younger brother of its founder, Abdurajak Janjalani. The older brother, who was known to be a good friend of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, was killed in 1998. Under the younger Janjalani's leadership, the group has increased its bombing activities, making them part of its policy to target and attack innocent civilians. His current connections to al-Qaeda and other foreign-operated terrorist groups are well documented. He is a merciless killer and a threat to the safety of all Filipinos.
The two Jemaah Islamiyah operatives hiding with Janjalani are equally dangerous. They are thought to be responsible for one of the bloodiest attacks in many years: the Bali bombings of 2002. They have killed many innocent people and have shown no remorse for their actions. Umar Patek and Dulmatin should be forced to pay for their crimes.
The offensive is progressing smoothly. Many are confidant the three killers will be captured or killed within weeks. The capability of Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah to commit attacks against innocent Filipino citizens has been limited by the actions of security forces. Officials still voice concerns. The seizure of 6,000 blasting caps was a major victory against the criminals, but it indicates that a major operation was in the works, likely involving the death of many innocents. Brigadier General Aleo has his team on high alert and believes they will get to the bottom of the terrorist plot. "The terrorists are up to something big, and we will find it out," he said.
It is also important that citizens do their part to help stop terrorism in the Philippines. This means reporting any suspicious activities or persons to local authorities immediately. Experts believe that the involvement of the local population is a key element in preventing future terrorist attacks. It takes more than security forces to defeat terror; it also takes the actions of those who love their country and do not wish it to be attacked by foreign-supported terrorist groups.
The Abu Sayyaf Group and Jemaah Islamiyah are in the business of killing the innocent. These two criminal groups must be driven from the Philippines and their leaders captured or killed. With the hard work of the security forces and strong citizens, terrorism can be wiped out in the Philippines. (MW/PIA 12) [top]