chapter  7
The Philippines and the Challenge of International Terrorism
Pages 21

It was raining heavily at 7:15 P.M. on Sunday, October 12, 2003, in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato Province, where an elite unit of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and soldiers from the Philippine army's 6th Infantry Division had set up a roadblock. According to the military account, the soldiers were responding to information from three independent informants that Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi of the Jemaah Islamiya would pass there on his way to General Santos City, South Cotabato. A motorcycle cab with a driver and passenger came into view and the officers attempted to flag it down. The motorcycle cab ignored the order and the passenger began firing a .45-caliber automatic pistol at the soldiers who returned fire. At the end of a brief shootout, the driver fled and the thirtyone-year-old Indonesian terrorist lay dying with five bullet wounds-two in the chest, one in each arm, and another in his side. Al-Ghozi was taken to the Midsayap Diagnostic Center in nearby Midsayap town, where he was pronounced dead, and fingerprints were taken for a definitive identification. The body was then driven the ninety miles to General Santos City, where forensics experts conducted a further examination. 1

Al-Ghozi's dramatic death ending his extraordinary life was greeted with enthusiastic relief by the Philippine government. Earlier, on July 10, al-Ghozi

along with Abdulmukim Ong Edris and Omar Opik Lasal, both members of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group, had escaped from their maximum security cells in Camp Crame, the PNP's headquarters in Quezon City. Al-Ghozi was serving a seventeen-year sentence for possession of explosives and was due to be arraigned the next day for his role in a series of bombings in Metro Manila on December 30, 2000. Their easy escape was an egregious embarrassment to the government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and sparked a massive manhunt that involved sixty-seven PNP tracker teams. With the announcement of al-Ghozi's killing, the president and Defense Secretary Eduardo Ermita immediately flew south to General Santos City to view the remains as national television covered the event.2