RealNews

Philippines Did Not Tell Howard of Terrorist Escape

The Prime Minister, John Howard, admitted yesterday the Philippines Government failed to inform him of a key terrorist suspect’s escape, leaving him to hear the news on television just hours after signing a bilateral security and intelligence agreement. Although careful not to criticise the Philippines authorities, a clearly agitated Mr Howard was forced to concede he had been given no official briefing on the escape of the Jemaah Islamiah operative, Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi, suspected of plotting to bomb Australia’s high commission in Singapore. The security lapse has caused deep political embarrassment and overshadowed Mr Howard’s efforts to talk up the security relationship between Australia and the Philippines. “Obviously it’s a setback and we’re disappointed it’s happened,” he said. “But it does underline the crucial importance of ongoing co-operation and the need for steady institution building in many of the countries in the region.” That issue is now on the agenda for further talks with the Philippines, as the escape highlighted the ability of corruption to undercut counter-terrorism efforts. Full Story

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