One of Asia's most wanted terrorists, Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi, bomb expert for the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group, was killed in the southern Philippines on October 13th in a shoot-out with government security forces seeking to recapture this escaped criminal. Al-Ghozi was arrested in January 2002 for plotting a series of terrorist attacks on Western targets in Southeast Asia, including the U.S. Embassy in Singapore. He is believed to have planned the August 2000 bombing of the home of the Philippine ambassador to Indonesia and the December 2000 bombing of a passenger train in Manila. Two dozen people were killed in those attacks.
Philippine President Gloria Arroyo said, "the death of al-Ghozi signals that terrorism will never get far in the Philippines and the long arms of the law will eventually get them [the terrorists]."
Meanwhile, in Iraq, another al-Qaida-affiliate, Ansar al-Islam, suffered a setback. Ansar al-Islam seeks to impose a Taleban-style regime in northern Iraq. Aso Hawleri, a top lieutenant of the terrorist group, was captured by coalition troops near Mosul on the same day that al-Ghozi was killed in the Philippines.
Hawleri is one of hundreds of terrorists and Saddam Hussein loyalists that have been captured or killed by coalition forces or Iraqi police. Of the fifty-five most-wanted former Iraqi leaders, forty-two are now dead or in custody. White House spokesman Scott McClellan says Iraq remains a central front in the war on terrorism and terrorists know it:
"What you see is the more progress we make, the more desperate the holdouts of the Saddam Hussein regime and foreign terrorists become. They become desperate because. . .they know when we succeed in Iraq that we will have dealt the enemy a significant blow in the war on terrorism."
The war on terrorism is far from over. But as President George W. Bush said, the U.S. "is waging a broad and unrelenting campaign against the global terror network. And we're winning. Wherever al-Qaida terrorists try to hide -- from the caves and mountains of Central Asia to the islands of the Philippines, to the cities in Pakistan -- we are finding them and we are bringing them to justice."