Philippine president said to be target of al-Qaida linked assassination plot

Bombing foreign embassies in Manila is also said to be part of the plot.

MANILA, Philippines – Authorities have uncovered alleged plots by al-Qaida-linked militants to assassinate the Philippine president and bomb foreign embassies, officials said Thursday.

Military chief of staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon said the assassination plot allegedly was hatched by the extremist Abu Sayyaf group and its Indonesia-based ally, Jemaah Islamiyah.

Brig. Gen. Romeo Prestoza, head of the Presidential Security Group said police uncovered the plot last week.

“It’s not only the president who is the target, but also other people … and embassies,” he said without offering specifics.

The reports followed an announcement by security forces that they were going on high alert over an alleged communist rebel plan to infiltrate protests to demand Arroyo’s resignation over corruption charges.

The officials did not specify when the attack was expected to occur. But Prestoza said Arroyo’s attendance at an alumni homecoming of the Philippine Military Academy on Saturday in northern Baguio city has been canceled and the rest of her schedule was “under assessment.”

Abu Sayyaf is an Islamist separatist group based out of the Southern Philippines. While the Philippines is a predominantly Christian country, its southern regions including the island of Mindanao, have large if not majority Muslim populations. This has caused unrest for many years in the country, though till of late it would mostly happen in the country’s south. A ferry bombing off Manila in 2004 killed over 100 people.

Could Abu Sayyaf assainate President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo?(Note to AP and its reporter, Oliver Teves. President Arroyo’s full name should be printed out at least once in a story written about her. Remember that little thing taught in journalism school called the Five W’s.) Only a fool would say they couldn’t. Assainating Arroyo would be quite a feather in their cap but have little impact on Philippine politics and only result in a crackdown on the group and its supporters. As my Filipina wife would say, Same collar different dog.

The Philippines saw a coup attempt only as recently as last November. Only in this Pacific island nation would plotters seize a hotel full of tourists in order to overthrow the country’s leader. The plot resembling something out of a Three Stooges comedy. There were several bloody coups in the 80’s, one of which happened while I lived in the Philippines, another taking place on the very day I was supposed to arrive in Manila for my wife Leonita’s embassy interview.(This in order for her to immigrate to the US) The Dec 89 coup was scary business so far as I’m concerned.

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