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NBI has until end of August to verify alleged terror plot

MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has until the end of this month to submit an initial report on the alleged terror plot of the Islamic State (IS) in Northern Luzon, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Monday.

Over the weekend, Guevarra ordered the NBI to check on raw information received by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that the IS was planning to sow terror on some Catholic churches in Northern Luzon.

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“I will give the NBI as much as time as is needed to validate, if not neutralize, this threat. I will direct the agency to submit an initial report before the end of this month,” Guevarra said.

“Terrorism, like illegal drugs, is the topmost priority for the Department of Justice (DOJ) due to its violent nature and the widespread fear and anxiety that it brings to the general public,” he added.

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Citing an intelligence report, the AFP-Northern Luzon Command (AFP-Nolcom) issued an alert memo saying that the alleged targets were a “Crusader City” with business centers and “Crusader Churches” in their area.

“Crusader Cities” is reportedly a term used by the IS to refer to “target areas” to incite a religious war. The authorities are verifying intelligence reports that said jihadists are planning to bomb Catholic churches in the cities.

The military is reportedly monitoring Laoag City in Ilocos Norte; Vigan City in Ilocos Sur; Manaoag, Pangasinan and Tuguegarao City in Cagayan.

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The Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag is a popular pilgrimage site located in Pangasinan. Laoag and Vigan are full of historic landmarks, including major churches that are among favorite tourist destinations. While an 18th-century Baroque church can be found in Tuguegarao.

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