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8 Terrorist Suspects Charged in Manila Bombings - 2003-07-07


A Philippines court has indicted eight suspected terrorist bombers, including Asia's most-wanted man, Riduan Isamuddin, also known as "Hambali." The eight suspects were charged in a series of bombings in Manila.

A Manila court charged eight suspected terrorists with carrying out bombings across the city in December 2000, one of the worst terror incidents in the country's history.

One of the attacks targeted an elevated railway and killed 22 people. More than 100 people were injured by the bombing.

Among those indicted is Hambali, the Indonesian who is believed to be the operational leader of the al-Qaida-linked Southeast Asian terror network, Jemaah Islamiyah. He is still at large.

Others named in the indictment are members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a Muslim separatist movement in Mindanao in the southern Philippines.

University of the Philippines Professor Noel Morada said prosecutors' attempts to link Hambali with the rebels is significant. "He is a big fish actually, because the reports seem to indicate the Jemaah Islamiyah and al-Qaida have links, and if you want to connect the dots also with the problem in Mindanao … then there is really a connection," Mr. Morada explained.

The government has threatened to place the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on an official terrorist list, unless it renounces links to terrorism. The rebel group did so in June and is hoping to enter negotiations with the government on ending the 30-year separatist conflict.

According to Monday's court indictment, Hambali and another alleged Jemaah Islamiyah leader, Faiz Abubakar Bafana, gave money to a suspected bomber from the rebel group, to conduct the attacks.

Mr. Bafana is in custody in Singapore. All of the others named still elude capture, with the exception of an Indonesian national named Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi. Al-Ghozi is serving a 12-year prison term on explosives charges in the Philippines, and the indictments are said to be based on his confessions.