Makati City Bus Bombing: Which Group Could Have Done It?

By Rommel Banlaoi

A week after the Makati City Bombing on 25 January 2011, law enforcement authorities are still in search of the perpetrator or mastermind of this gruesome incident.

There are those who are quick to pin the bus bombing on the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) having already masterminded two major terrorist attacks in Metro Manila: the 2004 Superferry 14 bombing in Manila Bay and the 2005 Valentines Day bombing in Makati City.

Until now, however, the ASG has not claimed responsibility on the recent attack – something that is very unusual for the ASG.

During the 2005 Valentines Day bombing, the ASG claimed responsibility at the day of the attack. During the 2004 Superferry 14 bombing, the ASG also claimed responsibility five days after the attack. No group has claimed responsibility yet on the recent bus bombing in Makati City. But based on the result of the post-blast investigation, an 81 mm mortar shell was used in the blast with a mobile phone as a detonator.

This kind of improvised explosive device (IED) is typically used in several bombings in Mindanao and the ASG is not the only group with the skills to make that bomb. Bombers from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), New People’s Army (NPA), and even Private Armed Groups (PAGs) have the skills to manufacture that kind of IED. It is the most favored IED of Al Khobar Group (AKG), an extortionist group in Central Mindanao whose main targets are bus companies. Foreign military jihadists associated with the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) introduced that kind of IED to the Philippines.

Because of the type of IED used, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is correct to say that all enemies of the state are suspects. Even a politician in Mindanao was being suspected in the bus bombing because of an alleged involvement in a bombing in the city. But the Philippine National Police (ASG)  has suspected three groups behind the bombing:  the Rajah Solaiman Islamic Movement (RSIM), the MILF-Special Operation Group, and the a so-called Bangsamoro Islamic Liberation Force.

At this time, we can only speculate on who really did the bus bombing Makati City.

But we are hearing stories from reliable sources on the ground that some children and orphans of the ASG masterminded the Makati bus bombing. Known lawless Moro personalities reportedly financed these ASG children and orphans.

If this is true, then we are witnessing a new generation of young terrorists – an emerging threat group that can be more virulent and lethal than the old ones.

I hope this is not true. Otherwise, a new threat assessment is needed to understand the ramification of this evolving danger.

Originally published at the Lobbyist, 2 February 2011.  See


About Rommel Banlaoi

I am an academic engaged in security and terrorism research. After spending 15 years of teaching, I have decided to concentrate on "think-tank" activities to make a difference and make a dent in the universe. For my academic background, see I am currently with the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research (PIPVTR, see as Chairman of the Board and Executive Director. I also maintain another blog entitled "Declassified Information" at For this current blog site, I will post my current and previous publications as well as working papers and other articles that express my thoughts and opinions on security issues affecting the Philippines and the world.
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