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Arrested Al-Qaeda suspect links terror group to Philippine Muslim rebels

An Egyptian suspected of Al-Qaeda membership has revealed links between the terror network and the Philippines’ main Muslim separatist group, the military chief said Thursday. Hassan Mustafa Bakry entered the Philippines in 1999 with six other unidentified foreigners and trained local Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) guerrillas in demolitions in camps on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, General Narciso Abaya said. Bakry, who was arrested in the town of Datu Piang on Tuesday, had even helped to defend the MILF stronghold Camp Abubakar before it fell to government forces in 2000, Abaya said. Manila is observing a ceasefire with the MILF signed in July last year to pave the way for formal peace talks to be hosted by Malaysia later this year. As part of the ceasefire, the MILF had vowed to cut ties to all terrorist groups. Abaya said there would be a further investigation of Bakry’s allegations, adding that this issue had already been raised in a joint ceasefire monitoring committee between the MILF and the government. Full Story

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