Twenty young members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who have just completed extensive training in explosives are in Luzon to bomb targets that include embassies and transport terminals, according to a source of The Manila Times.
The source, one of the new BIFF “graduates”, said the new recruits will assemble the explosive devices, acquiring components from a contact who have been identified before they were sent on their test mission.
Their leader, Abdul Basit Usman, formerly the head of the Special Operations Group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) but who has since moved to the BIFF, will determine where to plant and detonate the bombs, the source added.
Usman was trained by the Jemaah Islamiyah, a terror group linked to al-Qaeda.
Among the targets, the source said, are malls, bus terminals, Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) trains, transmission lines and foreign embassies.
The source said a group of armed men from Sabah arrived in Lanao del Sur on Sunday night to assist the bombers in their mission. Some of the men are on their way to Manila.
He said there are 30 new recruits but only 20 were sent to Luzon.
The group left in the South will be supported by young fighters from another batch whose mission is to bomb military camps and detachments in Mindanao.
He told the Times that Commander Bravo or Abdurahman Macapaar ordered him to bomb power lines of the National Power Corp. but he refused.
“I refused because I might get killed by soldiers if I get caught. Now I want to get away from the group because I don’t like what they’re doing,” he said in an interview on Monday.
He said it was Commander Bravo and Usman who gave orders to the new recruits, who were also promised compensation after they finished their training.
The source said Usman also promised a big reward to the bombers who succeed in their mission.
On Sunday, three improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in a sack were discovered in a garbage dump in Barangay Rosary Heights in Cotabato City. Two of the devices were fashioned from 60 MM mortar rounds, and the third from an 81 MM mortar round.
On August 6, a device rigged from a mortar projectile exploded in front of the Tenorio Building in Poblacion 1, Midsayap town. No one was hurt, but the blast damaged a pawnshop.
On August 5, a powerful car bomb left in a busy street in the city killed eight and injured 30 others.
The source said the bombings in Mindanao were a diversion while the young bombers slipped into Luzon.
The source, who comes from Lanao Del Sur, said he saw a man they called Bapa Kato whom he later knew to be Ameril Umbrakato meet with Usman to plan attacks on military detachments along the highways of Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato.
Kato is the acknowledged founder of the BIFF.
The information was confirmed by text messages from the Marines’ 6th Infantry Division based in Awang in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that they received intelligence report of an attack to be launched by the BIFF.
The message read: “for info lang po, paalala sa mga byahero na huwag dumaan ng Esperanza town, Datu Paglas, Buluan, Midsayap, Kabacan, Kidapawan, mga highways na may mga detachment ng military dahil anytime ay lulusob ang mga rebeldeng Muslim.”
Late last month, a bomb exploded in a crowded restaurant in Cagayan de Oro City, killing eight persons and injuring several others.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Monday that multiple murder charges were filed against a member of the Khilafa Islamiah Mindao (KIM) implicated in the bombing of a bar in Cagayan de Oro City that killed eight people and wounded scores.
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief, Director Francisco Uyami Jr., said a certain Usman Hapdis, alias Mam man, has been charged before the prosecutor’s office in Cagayan de Oro.
Uyami, quoting reports from their CIDG field office in Northern Mindanao, said Hapdis is a known member of Khilafa, which he described as a local affiliate of al-Qaeda.
He said Hapdis and the group have about 40 regular members, with eight hardcore followers and 15 other members undergoing Arabic language course since last month.
The Khilafa Islamiah was reportedly organized by Afghanistan-trained Islamic cleric Ustadz Human Abdul Najid early in 2012 on orders of an unidentified Afghanistan national.
The group reportedly has links with Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT), which is associated with the Jemaah Islmiyah.
With a report from Benjamin Vergara