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7/10/04 - PHILIPPINES ARRESTS - 2004-07-12

At her inauguration, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the Philippines spoke of a future in which “peace will come to Mindanao. All insurgents,” said Mrs. Arroyo, “shall have turned their swords into plowshares.” The Philippine president says she will continue both peace talks with the insurgent Moro Islamic Liberation Front and anti-terrorism efforts in her new six-year term.

Authorities in Manila have announced the arrest of four suspected terrorists from the Philippines’ southern island of Mindanao. The men are said to be linked to Jemaah Islamiyah, an Islamic extremist group with links to al-Qaida. The arrests were made shortly before President Arroyo’s inauguration. Bartolome Bustamante, a Philippine police spokesman, told the New York Times newspaper that those arrested “definitely had a plan to sow terror.”

Along with the arrests, police confiscated bomb-making materials and a manual on how to construct explosive devices. Jemaah Islamiyah’s terrorist campaign includes the 2002 attack on two nightclubs in Bali, Indonesia, in which more than two-hundred people were murdered. Jemaah Islamiyah’s goal is to form a radical pan-Islamic state covering Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and the southern Philippines.

Jemaah Islamiyah has terrorist training camps in central Mindanao. The camps pose a threat to the Philippines and neighboring countries. The U.S. commends the government of the Philippines for making the arrests and for its continuing commitment to the global fight against terrorism.

The U.S. has pledged more than one-hundred million dollars in anti-terror assistance. The U.S. is also providing training to Philippine soldiers to help them fight terrorists. “These killers torture and behead their victims, while acting -- or claiming to act -- in the name of God,” says President George W. Bush. “But murder has no home in any religious faith. And these terrorists must find no home in the Philippines.”