Philippines Official: We Can't Stop Inflow of Terrorist Money
MANILA, Philippines – Funds are flowing in for terrorist operations in the Philippines, mostly from the Middle East, a senior security official said Saturday while admitting authorities were unable to stop it.
National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales (search) said the money could be going to Jemaah Islamiyah, an Indonesia-based terror group linked to Al Qaeda (search) that is accused of training terrorists in the Philippines.
Speaking on Vice President Noli de Castro's radio program, Gonzales said Indonesian authorities warned that 10 Jemaah Islamiyah members slipped into the Philippines for a suicide mission, with two believed to be in the capital, Manila (search).
"We have not yet captured the suicide bombers, and money continues to flow in that we cannot stop," he said. "I cannot say how we are able to find out, but I can say that money is coming in and (bombing) materials are being purchased."
He declined to give details but indicated couriers take advantage of the busy traffic between the Philippines and the Middle East, where hundreds of thousands of Filipinos work.
He told the Associated Press that both visitors from the Middle East and returning Filipinos serve as money couriers. "What we are looking at is the regularity of it, which means there is continuing operations now," he said.
Gonzales said he recommended that terrorism, including the arrest in the Philippines of some Saudi Arabian terror suspects, be included in talks between President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Saudi King Abdullah (search) during her visit to the kingdom next month.
Two bombs wounded 30 people in southern Zamboanga (search) city this month in an attack blamed on Abu Sayyaf, a Filipino separatist group with purported links to Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah. The group has been blamed for many attacks, including a bombing that killed at least 116 people on a ferry last year.
In another development, a communist rebel group pledged to end its 36-year-old insurgency if the government accepts a peace proposal the guerrillas unveiled Saturday.
The National Democratic Front's offer calls for forming "a clean and honest coalition government" with "significant representation" of workers and peasants; canceling foreign debts; cutting military spending to provide funds for economic development; and trying government officials for corruption, treason and human rights violations.
The president's chief adviser on the peace process, Rene Sarmiento, rejected the idea of a coalition government, but he expressed optimism the proposal signaled a readiness by the rebels to resume peace talks that stalled last year.
"This (coalition government) is unacceptable because we have a process that we follow in our country," Sarmiento said. "If you want to assume governmental power, it should be through elections."