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Cablegate: Philippines Announces Arrest of Indonesian Ji

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS MANILA 001350

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR EAP/PMBS, DS/IP/EAP, INR/EAP, DS/DSS/ITA-TCREHAN
DEPT PASS TO USIP-SOLOMON
NSC FOR GREEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PREL ASEC PINS RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINES ANNOUNCES ARREST OF INDONESIAN JI
TERRORIST

REF: A. MANILA 836

B. MANILA 979
C. MANILA 1199

1. (SBU) The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced
at a March 22 press conference its units had captured Rohmat
(aka Zaki aka Zaky aka Hamdan aka Akil aka Jeji), an
Indonesian suspected of serving as a Jemaah Islamiyah (JI)
liaison to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). According to the AFP,
Rohmat was present when ASG leaders planned the February 14
bombings in Makati (Manila), General Santos City, and Davao
City, which killed eight people and wounded more than 150
others. According to AFP intelligence officials, Rohmat
helped train ASG bomb-makers how to use mobile phones to
trigger explosions. "With Zaki's capture, the Philippine
government has dealt another serious blow to the JI's and the
ASG's financial linkages, operational capability and
organizational morale," claimed Armed Forces Deputy Chief of
Staff Lieutenant General Edilberto Adan. The US Department
of Defense's Rewards Program has offered US $50,000 for
Rohmat.
2. (SBU) Intelligence officials alleged that Rohmat
illegally entered the Philippines via Zamboanga City in
January 2000 and trained at the MILF's Camp Abubakar in
Maguindanao, before moving to Camp Jabal Quba in Butig town,
Lanao del Sur province after the AFP overran Camp Abubakar in
2000. In 2001, he allegedly began training ASG members on
explosives in Patikul, Jolo, Sulu. Rohmat reportedly told
investigators that individuals associated with the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front's (MILF) 105th Base Command had
sheltered him while he recuperated after being wounded in
November 2004 during an air raid on Datu Piang town.
3. (SBU) GRP sources confirmed to poloff that they
considered Rohmat a JI "important member" but noted that his
capture actually took place on March 16.

4. (SBU) Comment: The AFP may have delayed announcing
Rohmat's capture until the beginning of the long weekend
marking the Easter holidays in an attempt to reassure a
jittery public fearful of possible ASG/JI terrorist attacks
during Holy Week. In the absence of anti-terrorism
legislation, the GRP is able to hold Rohmat without bail only
on immigration charges. In any eventual trial, GRP
prosecutors will face significant legal difficulties in
turning sensitive intelligence into a conviction on anything
beyond immigration charges in open court. This arrest again
highlights the need for a tough and more comprehensive
Anti-Terrorism law here. Embassy continues working closely
with both Administration and Congressional figures interested
in pushing this legislation, particularly in the wake of the
Valentine's Day bombings. End comment.

Visit Embassy Manila's Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State Department's
Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/
Ricciardone

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