The brother of the man suspected of masterminding the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was among nine terrorism suspects arrested during raids in Manila, authorities said Saturday.
Authorities displayed the nine to reporters at national police headquarters. Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan did not detail the allegations against the men, but offered explosives, detonating cord and other material seized in Friday’s raids as evidence they were terrorists.
The arrests “demonstrated the government’s will to prevent international terrorism from taking root in our country,” Alunan said.
The nine include six Iraqis, identified as Abdul Kareem Jassim Bidawi, Haleem Jassim Bidawi, Jamaal Jaloud, Ibrahim Abid, Najim Nasser and Adel Anonn. The others were Emad Almubarak of Sudan and Saleh Al Quuwaye and Zaid Al Amer, both Saudi Arabians.
Manila Police Chief Hermogenes Ebdane said Anonn is believed to be the twin brother of Ramzi Yousef, who allegedly planned the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that killed six people and injured 1,000 others.
Yousef also allegedly plotted unsuccessfully to assassinate Pope John Paul II during the pontiff’s visit to Manila in January and to bomb U.S. airliners in the Pacific. He left Manila but was arrested in Pakistan in March.
Anonn denied being Yousef’s brother.
“We are not terrorists,” one of the nine said as police led them away from Saturday’s news conference.
Police also seized a pistol, maps of the metropolitan Manila area and 49 Philippine passports. The men will be charged with illegal possession of a gun and explosives.
On Dec. 16, police rounded up five Pakistanis believed to be terrorists in a town north of Manila, confiscating explosives from the group. The following day, two other Pakistanis were arrested in Manila; two more surrendered to authorities several days later.
The nine Pakistanis were charged with illegal possession of explosives.
Philippine officials fear the country has become a haven for foreign criminals and terrorists, partly because of lax security at local ports and inadequate monitoring of foreigners by immigration authorities.