The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) confirmed that Jemaah Islamiyah expert bomb maker Basit Usman released Wednesday night some 20 new graduates of bomb making skills to conduct "test missions" by detonating improvised explosive devices in several targets in Cotabato City, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.
Police Director Felicisimo Khu, director of the Integrated Police Operations, said the 20 new bombers were divided into two groups, 10 are initially deployed in Sultan Kudarat, and the other half in North Cotabato and Cotabato City.
The "test missions," according to Khu includes detonating their own concocted IED's in crowded areas.
Khu identified 3 Catholic churches in Cotabato City as next possible targets. The Philippine National Police (PNP) has placed Cotabato City under Heightened Security Alert level 3, the highest security alert of the PNP.
The security alert is being implemented due to three consecutive bombings in different places in Cotabato City.
He said they have unconfirmed information that Usman has been hiding somewhere in Liguasan Marsh, but they have yet to capture Usman for lack of credible intelligence reports.
"Problem is, he is so evasive, he is very secretive, very hard to detect." Khu said. "If we have guns for hire, we now have bombs for hire."
Jemaah Islamiah, meaning "Islamic Congregation", (abbreviated JI), is a Southeast asian militant Islamic organization dedicated to the establishment of a Daulah Islamiyah (regional Islamic caliphate) in Southeast Asia incorporating Indonesia, Malaysia and the southern part of the Philippines, Singapore and Brunei. JI was added to the United Nation's 1267 Committee's list of terrorist organizations linked to al-Qaeda or the Taliban on 25 October 2002 under UN Security Council Resolution 1267.