Terrorists' Plot to Assassinate Philippine President Uncovered
The Philippine military has uncovered a joint Abu Sayyef and Jemaah Islamiyah assassination plot against President Arroyo, it was announced. The head of the Presidential Security Group, Brigadier-General Romeo Prestoza, also said that she is not the sole target. "We're taking any threat of this nature very seriously. It's not just the president, there are other targets," Prestoza said at a news conference. Arroyo has canceled travel plans within the country as a result, and a large protest against her had been planned in Manila, which authorities believe could be used for cover by terrorists seeking an attack.
Only three months ago, a Phlippine minister of parliament was among several killed in a bombing at the Philippine parliament building. The minister, Wahab Akbar, had been accused of once being a member of Abu Sayyef as well as maintaining ties to them.
There remains good reason for the United States' continued low-profile but significant counterterrorism assistance to and within the Philippines, including special forces training and operational assistance and advising.
To see a summary and overview of the two terrorist groups involved in the assassination plot, visit the MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base entries for each below:
Update: Nick Grace, an Indonesia and Jemaah Islamiyah expert here at ThreatsWatch, notes that the news of the plot in conjunction with major increases in arrests of JI members in Indonesia suggests that Jemaah Islamiyah may be shifting its center of gravity from Indonesia to the Philippines. He adds that they seem to be more interested in striking Manila than Jakarta, where their ability to operate safely has been severely impaired by Indonesian counterterrorism and security efforts.