Muslim rebel leader says U.S. troops presence complicates Mindanao conflict

16:23, August 09, 2010      

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The U.S. troop' s presence in the country training Filipino soldiers in counter- terrorism complicates the situation in the restive south, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said Monday.

Ibrahim Murad, chairman of the country's biggest Muslim separatist group, told members of the Foreign Correspondents of the Philippines at Camp Darapanan, that U.S. soldiers are only justifying their presence in the Philippines by claiming that the southern Philippine island of Mindanao is a breeding ground for terrorist groups like the Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf Group.

"There is no agenda for U.S. troops to stay in Mindanao. It only complicates the situation. They are just simply justifying their presence for terrorist elements," Murad said. He added that if there are terrorists in Mindanao, they are "only a handful of people and they are not organized."

"If ever there are terrorists in Mindanao, they are not well organized unlike in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan," Murad said.

About 500 U.S. Special Forces troops are training Filipino soldiers in Mindanao to combat militants from the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, which the United States lists as a terrorist organization.

Murad said the MILF welcomes the U.S. support in helping the peace process succeed. But they don't know why the U.S. government is deploying its military forces here.

"We feel that the success of the peace process is the ultimate solution to the problem in Mindanao," he said.

Source: Xinhua


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