The Philippines needs to wipe out the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah groups because of the threat they pose to the country and Southeast Asia, U.S. Ambassador Harry Thomas said today.
U.S. troops deployed “temporarily” in the southern part of the country are providing “information and support” to the Philippine military, Thomas said at a news conference in Manila.
“Simple reduction of the threat is insufficient,” he said. “We must be vigilant. We’re at a critical threshold,” he said without elaborating.
Abu Sayyaf has conducted kidnappings and bombings in southern Philippines since the 1990s while Jemaah Islamiyah has been blamed for the 2002 Bali attack that left 202 dead. The U.S. and Philippine governments have linked the two organizations and al Qaeda.
Suspected Bali bomber Dulmatin hid in the Philippines after the bombing, according to police reports. He was killed in a police raid in Jakarta in March.
Abu Sayyaf leader Khadaffy Janjalani, was killed in a firefight with soldiers in the southern Philippine island of Jolo in 2006.