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Philippines Uncovers Financial Network Linked to al-Qaida - 2004-05-06

Philippine security forces say they have uncovered a financial network used by Jemaah Islamiyah to fund terrorist attacks in Southeast Asia. Officials traced the source of the money to the al-Qaida terrorist network.

The government says the anti-terrorism task force has traced $25,000 sent to Jemaah Islamiyah operatives in the southern Philippines from the al-Qaida terrorist network.

A key suspect is in custody, Jordan Mamso Abdullah, a Filipino currency trader believed to have received the funds. Philippine Defense Secretary Eduardo Ermita says Mr. Abdullah gave authorities valuable information about Jemaah Islamiyah operations in the Philippines.

"And I would not be surprised, if it is not just the $25,000 that so far has gotten into the Philippines," he said. "I would not be surprised, if we might again stumble into something, which would show that the operation is much bigger."

Mr. Abdullah, in handcuffs and wearing a bright yellow t-shirt, was paraded before the media during a news conference Thursday at the department of defense.

Asked by reporters if the charges against him were true, Mr. Abdullah said "no."

Mr. Abdullah is from the southern island of Mindanao, which has a large Muslim population and several Muslim separatist groups. He was arrested on April 3.

Philippines authorities say he gave them details that, combined with information gathered from U.S. interrogations of captured al-Qaida and JI suspects, give authorities a much clearer picture of how the terrorist network works in the Philippines.

Defense Secretary Ermita says foreign JI members, from Malaysia and Indonesia, are operating training camps in the south of the country.

"They're trying to develop a JI cell in the Philippines because, first, it's so easy to get in and out of the Philippines through the southern back door," he said.

JI is allegedly working with the Muslim separatists who have been fighting against the government in Mindanao for three decades. The group aims to create a pan-Islamic state across much of Southeast Asia.

Jemaah Islamiyah is blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.