Bomber Basit Usman is still alive, AFP official says

March 5, 2010 11:14 pm 

MANILA, March 5 -A top military official said the Filipino bomber recently reported by Pakistani authorities to have been killed by an American drone attack in Pakistan is still alive.

“He is in Mindanao,” said Maj. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu, commander of the military’s National Capital Region Command, referring to Abdul Basit Usman, who is affiliated with the Special Operations Group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Usman, who has linkages with the Southeast Asian terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah and the local terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, has US$ 1 million on his head. The reward had been offered by the US States Department.

Usman, who is being tagged responsible for a string of bombings in the South – was reportedly killed by the US unmanned aerial vehicle along with 11 other militants during the air strike last January, according to Pakistani officials

.”The reported death of Basit Usman in a UAV or drone attack in Pakistan came from Pakistani security forces. We have no report to that effect. There is also no report from our US counterpart,” said the NCRcom commander.

”It was not him. He is still alive,” Mapagu said of the real Usman. He said that if you make a google search at the internet, one will find out that there are over a hundred Basit Usmans in Pakistan.

Asked for his basis in saying Usman is still alive, Mapagu said: ”Based from us, from our intelligence (community).”

Last Wednesday, military and police operatives arrested three of Usman’s men in Taguig City by virtue of standing arrest warrants for past offenses. The three are reportedly out to carry out bombings in Metro Manila.

Mapagu said they believe that they have foiled the planned bombings, which he said also involved the Jemaah Islamiyah. Nevertheless, he said that they are continuing intelligence operations against the possible remnants of the group.

When asked if the three suspects – Abdul Racman Samuel, Joher Guiamelon and Mujahid Guiamelon – confirmed that Usman is still alive, Mapagu said: “We are still in the tactical interrogation. We have yet to complete the tactical interrogation.”

The three suspects were presented by Mapagu to the media on Friday in Camp Aguinaldo.(PNA) RMA/VR

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