Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian explained the information that can be gathered from such intelligence activities involving Philippine National Police or PNP and Armed Forces of the Philippines or AFP can be used to catch Marwan-trained rebels.
Gatchalian noted the endeavor will be good for intelligence build-up and close coordination between the intelligence units of the two government agencies.
“A joint intelligence workshop attended by intelligence officials of both the police and the military is crucial in establishing the identities and background information of the Marwan-trained bombers so that AFP and PNP operatives can effectively work to neutralize them,” Gatchalian said.
Military authorities in Mindanao had revealed that Marwan was able to train bombers and instructors in his years of hiding in different locations in Mindanao.
The military, however, could not give an estimate on the number of people trained by Marwan explaining that the group was careful in its security protocols.
The Malaysian bomb expert was said to have trained in small groups of about five people.
“It is really alarming to learn that Marwan was able to train Moro extremists in the art of bomb-making. Unfortunately, some of those trained by Marwan have become capable of teaching bomb making. These instructors are now well-versed in improvised explosives devices which they teach to other extremists in Mindanao,” Gatchalian said.
The solon said what is equally alarming was the revelation of relieved Special Action Force or SAF director Getulio Napeñas during the Senate hearing on Feb. 10 that Marwan planned to bomb the convoy of Pope Francis during the pontiff’s visit to the Philippines last month.
In his speech during the Senate hearing on the Jan. 25 Mamasapano clash, Napenas said the SAF received “unconfirmed” information that the Jemaah Islamiyah, in coordination with Marwan, was planning to device a bomb that will be detonated as the papal convoy drove from T.M. Kalaw Street in Manila on Jan 18, 2015.
Pope Francis held a mass at Quirino Grandstand on January 18, an event attended by an estimated 6 million Catholic devotees.
Napeñas also said that a couple of days ago, there were reports that not less than 30 of Marwan’s students were roaming around Central Mindanao, “ready and willing and able to create widespread fear and terror, panic to our countrymen though the use of improvised explosive device.”
“While we commend that gallantry of the 44 SAF commandos who gave their lives to neutralize Marwan, the fact remains that he was able to train many bombers who may avenge their mentor’s death by conducting a bombing campaign not only in Mindanao but also in Metro Manila,” warned Gatchalian.
Gatchalian said this scenario is not far-fetched since Jemaah Islamiyah was also behind the Rizal Day bombings on Dec. 30, 2000.
The Rizal Day bombing resulted in several deaths in the five bombing incidents that included the Light Railway Transit (LRT). The bombings were said to be in retaliation to then President Joseph Estrada’s all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF.
PNP reports said Marwan has been involved in multiple bombing incidents including the deadly Bali, Indonesia bombing in 2002 that killed 202 civilians. In the Philippines, Marwan was tagged in the death of 44 civilians due to bombing.
Another international terrorist, Basit Usman was a key commander in the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters or BIFF, which is a breakaway group from the MILF. He was also a bomb-making expert, and trains his members in assembling and planting bombs. He faces a number of arrest warrants in connection to bombing incidents that killed at least 17 people.
Marwan and Usman are listed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as among the most wanted international terrorists in the US. Marwan carries a $5-million bounty while Usman has a $2 million reward for his capture, dead or alive. Marwan was the target of the January-25 SAF operation in Mamasapano in Maguindanao.
Though government authorities claim Marwan was neutralized in the SAF operation, 44 elite policemen were also killed when the police team engaged in a firefight with the MILF and BIFF who were holding camp in the area. (R. Burgos)