Bomb expert Basit Usman is still manufacturing improvised explosive devices (IED) and is making a living out of it, a ranking police official said.

“He (Usman) is still making bombs as of now… that’s his livelihood, he has to feed his family, he has to feed himself, he has to feed his group,” Director Felicisimo Khu, head of the PNP Directorate for Integrated Police Operations in Western Mindanao, said in a phone interview.

“Intelligence reports state he (Usman) is dealing IEDs, IEDs now are for sale,” the police official said.

The bombs, usually made of Howitzer cannon or mortar ammunition with cellphones for triggering devices, are being offered to those who are “interested,” Khu said.

According to the official, making bombs serves a “double” purpose for Usman, who has links with the regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

Though not direct members of the JI, Usman and his men are believed to have received support from the foreign group.

“Mayroon silang organizational motive na maging malakas sila sa international terrorist group, foreign support, natural lang naman yan na ‘yung local group must be active to recieve foreign support,” Khu said.

“Mayroon siyang (Usman) suporta sa labas, meron din siyang kinikita diyan sa IED.”

Khu said efforts are ongoing to capture Usman, a native of Mamasapano, Maguindanao, but the suspect is very elusive.

“Halos lahat ng agency ng Armed Forces, police, are looking for him (Usman), sa local agencies meron siyang reward, meron pa siyang dollar reward… there are efforts to catch him but he is evasive, para siyang palos” Khu said.

Usman, for whose capture the US government offers a whopping $1 million, is still believed to be in Central Mindanao.

Meanwhile, Khu clarified there has been no fresh information that Usman’s group has plans to bomb areas outside Central Mindanao, including Digos City, Davao City, and Metro Manila.

The last “intelligence report” on such a plan was recieved by authorities last June, he said.

The information stated that Usman’s group sent an “advance party” to conduct “surveillance” operations, Khu said.

“After that there were no further developments, as to why, kung bakit hindi nangyari, hindi pa natin alam ‘yun.”

Khu said he has placed the police-military Task Force Kutawato to Alert Level 3 to thwart Usman’s plans. (John Roson)

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