PNP on alert during 9-11 remembrance

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — SEVEN years after the deadliest terror attacks on the United States, the country’s security forces remain on strict alert while remembering the day the world froze still and watched videos of two hijacked airplanes being slammed by al-Qaeda terrorists into the World Trade Center. Fifteen Filipino-Americans died on that terror-filled day.

“We’re still on full alert watching for all terror threats,” National Capital Region Police Office chief Director Geary L. Barias said.

Philippine National Police chief Director General Avelino I. Razon Jr. said they have maintained similar security measures in Mindanao in the wake of the series of atrocities launched by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a group which in the past had been accused of providing sanctuary to al-Qaeda-backed Jemaah Islamiyah bombers.

“We’re not lowering our guards down. We have our proactive measures in place to preempt attacks on soft targets by various threat groups,” said Razon.

Razon is best remembered as the police official instrumental in the discovery in Manila of the al-Qaeda plot called Oplan: Bojinka.

This was a plan to assassinate the late Pope John Paul II and hijack commercial planes and slam them into Israeli and American targets in Southeast Asia in 1995 — six years before 9-11.

Razon said he has ordered tight security on potential terrorist targets in Metro Manila and other parts of the country such as oil depots, hotels, shopping malls, airports, pier, bus terminals and other places of convergence.

He also directed all PNP units to intensify intelligence operations to monitor and preempt movement of known threat groups.

Razon issued the instructions ahead of the anniversary of the infamous September 11 terrorist attacks launched by the al-Qaeda terror group of Osama bin Laden in New York in 2001.

“Based on historical data, some terrorist organizations have been known to launch activities to commemorate some dates and occasions that are significant to their organization,” PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Nicanor A. Bartolome said.

However, the PNP officials maintained that they have not received any intelligence reports on any terrorist plot connected with the 9-11 commemoration even as global authorities led by the United States continue their hunt for elusive al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Prior to the 9-11 attacks, PNP authorities uncovered Oplan: Bojinka which detailed an intricate al-Qaeda plot in Manila and other parts of Southeast Asia.