World wide web of terrorism
By Fawziah Selamat, TODAY
Posted: 29 March 2007 1218
Terrorists in South-east Asia are taking a leaf from the book of insurgents elsewhere — including Iraq — and adapting these deadly methods for their use, experts warned yesterday. Philippine groups are using explosives hidden in cars, a tactic that bears striking similarities to attacks in Iraq, said Superintendent Albert Ferro, head of the country’s Bomb Data Centre.
“There were zero bombing incidents involving cars before 2005,” Mr Ferro said at a global security conference in Singapore. “But we’re seeing more of such cases now.”
The pervasive links between Al Qaeda and its South-east Asian affiliates — like Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Abu Sayyaf — mean regional terrorists have the knowledge to make lethal bombs that they would not otherwise have. The use of more sophisticated triggering devices — which allow for better timing and greater distances between the bomber and his target — may become more popular. Improved versions are continually surfacing in Iraq.
“Since triggers (like mobile phones, remote-controlled cars and car alarms) are commercially available, it’s just a matter of time before the concept of using those things travels,” said Mr Anders Nielsen, a research fellow at the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research.
“Also, the high frequency of bombings in Iraq, and the greater obstacles faced in carrying out attacks, mean (terrorists) are constantly forced to improve their methods.” Mr Nielsen feels the monitoring, by coalition forces, of terrorist camps in Iraq may make it difficult for expertise there to filter to groups elsewhere. However, this does not apply to less controlled areas like Pakistan’s tribal regions and Sulu in the Philippines, he said. “Homegrown terrorists are continually being taken to such places, where they are trained to make (better) bombs,” he said.
“Built into the training are lessons learnt from past attempts that would make future attempts more sophisticated and devastating.” Colonel Tito Karnavian, intelligence head at Indonesia’s Anti-Terrorism Criminal Investigation Department, said close links between JI’s bombing mastermind, Azahari Husin, and two JI fugitives, Umar Patek and Dulmatin, may also have helped spread terror methods.
The trio were at the same terrorist training camp in Afghanistan in the 1990s, according to Col Tito. Authorities suspect the fugitive duo are being sheltered by Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines. This may mean that bomb methods used by JI in Indonesia are being replicated by Abu Sayyaf, Col Tito said. Although suicide bombings have not occurred in the Philippines, bombs recovered on the Philippine island of Mindanao in 2005 were made to the exact specifications of plans seized in a JI safehouse in Indonesia in 2003, said Mr Ferro.