Philippines to Deport Two U.S. Brothers
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Philippine authorities said Tuesday they were set to deport two American brothers arrested for suspected links to terrorism and for allegedly meeting charity groups believed to be al-Qaida fronts in the country.
Michael Ray Stubbs, 55, and his brother James, 56, a convert to Islam, were arrested on immigration violation charges Dec. 13 in the town of Tanza in Cavite province, 21 miles southwest of Manila, the Bureau of Immigration said Tuesday.
It said the brothers, born in Missouri, would be deported to the United States as ``undesirable aliens ... based on intelligence reports that they were seen meeting with known leaders of various terrorist cells in the country with links to al-Qaida.″
The brothers denied any wrongdoing when they appeared at a news conference in handcuffs.
Immigration Commissioner Andrea Domingo told reporters they were under surveillance before their arrest.
James Stubbs is also known as Jamil Daoud Mujahid, according to U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli, who said authorities in the Philippines notified American officials two days after the men were arrested on Dec. 13.
Consular officials from the U.S. Embassy met with both men on Dec. 17, Ereli said.
Domingo claimed that Mujahid met members of the Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremist group as well as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front separatist movement, two groups loosely linked by Philippine officials to al-Qaida.
The two had tourist visas but also carried documents indicating they were soliciting funds for the construction of Muslim schools and mosques, she said.
She said there was no evidence linking the two to any past or planned terrorist plots, but added that James Stubbs had allegedly called for the overthrow of the U.S. government in statements to local authorities.
James Stubbs said he has a Filipino wife and was in the Philippines because she was pregnant.
``These are all fabricated lies,″ he shouted to reporters as Domingo was addressing the news conference.
An irritated Domingo responded by saying: ``This is the Philippine government. They’re violating immigration laws and they’re being charged and they are going through immigration proceedings.″
The U.S. Embassy refused to comment on the charges. Spokeswoman Karen Kelley said she understood the brothers retained legal council to address the charges.
According to Philippine military intelligence reports, Mujahid left his job as a teacher in California to study Arabic in Sudan. He met in May with several charity groups suspected of being al-Qaida fronts and founded by Mahmoud Afif Abdeljalil _ believed to be a close associate of Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law.
Abdeljalil was arrested in September in the southern city of Zamboanga on charges of having an expired visa. After he was interrogated, he was ordered deported.
The charities were not immediately identified, but the immigration bureau said they were used to channel funds to al-Qaida cells in the country.
The arrests came as the government warned earlier this month that Indonesian members of the Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah have been training Filipino rebels in the south of the country.
Jemaah Islamiyah, which has links to al-Qaida, is suspected of several attacks, including last year’s Bali bombings that killed 202 people.