Foreign terrorists seeking refuge in Sulu
Foreign militants are joining local terror groups in Sulu province to escape the law in their own countries, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Monday.
Speaking in a forum at the National Defense College of the Philippines in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Lorenzana confirmed that foreigners carried out the twin bombings at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu, on Jan. 27.
Lorenzana said there had been a confusion of intelligence about the nationality of the bombers.
“The first news I got from abroad, from friends who are also watching these terrorists, I was told that they were a Yemeni couple. Then suddenly it was changed to Malaysian couple. Now it’s Indonesian couple,” Lorenzana said.
“But I would look at either Malaysian or Indonesian, mostly Indonesian,” he added, explaining that Malaysians and Indonesians could pass for Filipinos.
Lorenzana said a blast survivor who had seen a woman leave a black bag on a pew inside the cathedral never mentioned that the suspected first bomber looked like a foreigner.
He said the reason why foreign militants were flocking to Sulu, particularly Jolo, was the “intense operations against them on the other side, Malaysia and Indonesia.”
“[M]aybe they find it easier to hide in Jolo,” Lorenzana said.
He said that if the suicide bombing angle to the attack on the Jolo cathedral were “validated,” it would imply, “You cannot guard against a determined bomber” and that “we have to do more to secure our border.”