Philippine President Gloria Arroyo says the Southeast Asian terrorist group,
Jemaah Islamiyah, is now the country's top security threat.
President Gloria Arroyo says more military and police resources are now being
deployed to hunt down members of the regional terrorist group, Jemaah Islamiyah,
operating in the Philippines.
Ms. Arroyo made the announcement Friday after a series of arrests of JI operatives
in the southern Philippines.
"Recent events show that their sinister plans are both deadly and far ranging," she
JI is considered the region's link to the al-Qaida terrorist network.
President Arroyo says JI is a bigger threat than several of the Muslim separatist
groups that have been fighting in the south for decades.
Manila has been working with neighboring countries and the United States
in eliminating JI - which aims to establish a pan-Islamic state in much of
JI is largely based in Indonesia and is responsible for a number of bombings
in the Philippines and Indonesia.
The Philippines, along with Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia have arrested
and convicted scores of JI operatives this past year.
Earlier month, the Philippines captured Taufek Refke - an Indonesian suspected
to be JI's finance chief in the Philippines. JI's suspected explosives expert,
Indonesian Fathur Rohman Al Ghozi, was shot dead last week after escaping a
Manila prison in July.
Philippine military officials say JI members received training from Muslim
insurgents on the island of Mindanao. They say there are at least 30 JI members
hiding in the country.
President Arroyo Friday again warned the local Muslim separatist group, the
Moro Islamic Liberation Front, against having ties with JI. The group is currently
in talks with the government toward a final peace deal that would end 30 years
of violent conflict in the southern Philippines.