MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 13, 2010) – An Indonesian bomber wanted for a string of terror attacks in his country and the Philippines had been spotted in the southern Filipino province of Tawi-Tawi, reports said on Saturday.
It said Umar Patek, 40, was seen carrying a rifle in a video provided by the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research to television giant ABS-CBN. Patek is a member of the Jemaah Islamiya who was linked to the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 mostly foreigners, and wanted by the United States and Australia on terrorism charges.
The report did not say when the video was taken and who provided the footage to the Filipino research group. Patek was initially reported by the Philippine military to have died in a firefight with troops in Sulu province in 2006 only to deny it later. Patek, alias Umar Kecil, is believed to have trained Abu Sayyaf militants in bomb-making in the southern Philippines.
Australia said the Abu Sayyaf harbored Patek, including slain Indonesian bomber Dulmatin, who both fled to the southern Philippines in 2003 to evade arrest by Indonesian authorities after the Bali attack.
Philippine authorities had previously claimed that dozens of Jemaah Islamiya militants are hiding in the country, mostly in Mindanao, and Canberra said the Indonesian extremists continue to support terrorist operations by the Abu Sayyaf and the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front and also provide bomb-making training to Philippines-based militant networks.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front which is fighting for self-determination has denied any links with either the Abu Sayyaf or Jemaah Islamiya, but Australia said information from March 2009 recovered from Abu Sayyaf training camps, documented the collusion between the two rebel groups and Jemaah Islamiya in effecting 'technology transfer' and the provision of safe haven in exchange for weapons.
Australia said the Abu Sayyaf also harbored Marwan – a Jemaah Islamiya militant and US-trained engineer and explosives trainer – who had been in the Philippines since mid 2007. It said Patek and Marwan currently have a combined total of US$6 million in reward money posted for their capture by the United States.
Aside from Patek, Filipino authorities said Jemaah Islamiya militants Mauiya and Quayem are also hiding in the southern Philippines and under the protection of the Abu Sayyaf. Mauiya was tagged as one of those who held three international aide workers in the restive region in 2009. (Mindanao Examiner)