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RESPONSE TO TERROR | ASIA

Philippines Jails 3 Suspected of Terrorist Links

November 24, 2001|From Associated Press

MANILA — Police and soldiers in the Philippines arrested two Jordanians and an Iraqi in raids Friday and said they were suspected of being linked to international terrorists, officials said.

Bomb-making materials and altered and fake passports were seized from the three men, according to intelligence officers.

Police said the unidentified Jordanians were arrested in Manila. The military said the Iraqi was arrested in his home in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao province, about 550 miles southeast of Manila.

Maj. Julieto Ando, a regional army spokesman, identified the Iraqi as Mohammed Sabri Selamah. About 80 soldiers backed by two armored personnel carriers surrounded Selamah's house.

Selamah, married to a Muslim Filipina, has taught since 1998 at the Islamic Koranic Memorization Center in the village of Simuay near a camp of the Muslim secessionist rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, rebel spokesman Eid Kabalu said.

The MILF is holding peace talks with the government.

Soldiers seized explosives components, passports allegedly used by Selamah to identify himself as a Palestinian or a Jordanian, and tools to alter passports, Ando said.

Philippine authorities have been on alert for suspected foreign terrorists since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

They have cooperated with U.S. investigators in locating suspected members of the Al Qaeda network, which is blamed for the U.S. attacks.

Philippine troops have also been pursuing the Muslim extremist Abu Sayyaf group, which has been holding an American couple hostage for the last six months. The group has been linked to Al Qaeda.

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