By GENALYN D. KABILING
Manila, Philippines – Malacañang confirmed yesterday that the Abu Sayyaf Group has allied with Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) regional terror group but allayed concerns of immediate threats to Metro Manila so far.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the government has not monitored an imminent security threat in the capital but is constantly verifying such information with close coordination with regional allies.
“The analysis in so far as the Jemaah Islamiyah merging with the Abu Sayyaf is correct in so far as that’s being done right now in Jolo but there are no specific reports of any threat of these two groups coming from Manila,” Lacierda said during a news conference in the Palace.
“All information is being vetted by the intelligence community. There is information sharing on many levels, from national intelligence level of countries,” he added.
Lacierda said all information “whether scuttlebutt or gossip” are being investigated by the government to ensure the safety of the people. “But there is no specific report as to any threats to Metro Manila,” he said.
A counter-terrorism expert reportedly warned of the integration of the JI group and the Abu SAyyaf, saying they are preparing for more terror attacks.
Rohan Gunarathna from the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research based in Singapore claimed that the Abu Sayyaf was able to launch bomb attacks in the past with the help of the JI.
The security analyst, however, gave credit to the Armed Forces for its sustained operations against the terrorists to protect the country.