The military is checking whether terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah is providing funds to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) following reports that bomb expert Abdul Basit Usman was spotted in a recent clash in Maguindanao.
Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Army’s 6th division, said the link between the BIFF and the Jemaah Islamiyah has been established.
“The BIFF is using several improvised explosive devices. Basit is assembling them,” Hermoso said in an interview Thursday.
“We are determining where the support to BIFF came from,” he added.
Hermoso said it is possible that the Jemaah Islamiyah is channeling funds to the BIFF because of their alliance.
The United States (US) State Department described Usman as a Filipino citizen and bomb expert with connections to Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah.
He has been tagged in several bombings and is said to be hiding in Central Mindanao. The US has offered $1-million for information that would lead to his arrest.
Usman was reportedly sighted in a raid by security forces in Mamasapano, Maguindanao Tuesday morning but he managed to escape.
Two persons believed to be relatives of Usman were killed and four women were arrested during the offensive, according to military reports.
Some online reports claim that Usman was wounded during the raid but Hermoso denied this.
The BIFF consists of former Moro Islamic Liberation Front who opposed the holding of peace talks with the government. The group has rejected the government’s offer of enhanced autonomy and is fighting for an independent Islamic sate in Mindanao.