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US Admiral Announces Progress in War Against Terrorism - 2003-06-06

The top U.S. military commander in the Asia-Pacific region wrapped up a three-day visit to the Philippines Friday, announcing progress in the region's war against terrorism. But despite recent arrests, a Philippine terrorist group still poses a significant threat.

U.S. Pacific Command Chief Admiral Thomas Fargo says that terrorists believed responsible for last year's deadly bombing in Bali, Indonesia, still pose a danger in East Asia.

Speaking at a news conference in the Philippines, Admiral Fargo says the United States and its allies have made major progress against the Islamic militant group Jemaah Islamiyah, which is blamed for the blast.

He cited recent arrests of some 140 members of the group, including some of its leaders, in the past 18 months.

But while Admiral Fargo says the arrests are leading to a deeper understanding of the terror group and a diminishing of their operational ability, the Jemaah Islamiyah could still mount further attacks.

Admiral Fargo's visit to the Philippines is the final stop on his visit to East Asia to share intelligence with officials on the war against terror.

Members of the Jemaah Islamiyah are believed to be hiding in the southern Philippines, in areas controlled by a Muslim separatist group.

Jemaah Islamiyah is also reputed to have links with the al-Qaeda network.

U.S. troops are currently conducting military exercises with Philippine troops. The cooperation is aimed at rooting out local terror groups. The Philippine government has ruled out any U.S. combat actions on its territory.