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N. Korea sold weapons to Philippine Muslim guerrilla group: paper.

TOKYO, Jan. 3 Kyodo

North Korea sold more than 10,000 automatic rifles and other arms to the Philippines' largest Muslim guerrilla group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, in 1999 and 2000, a leading Japanese daily reported Monday.

In addition, investigations by Southeast Asian nations' security authorities show that the MILF told North Korea in June 1999 that it wanted to buy a North Korean mini-submarine, the Yomiuri Shimbun said in a dispatch from Jakarta.

Quoting sources among the security authorities of unidentified Southeastern Asian nations, the daily said the arms deals -- mostly taking place in Malaysia -- came to light as a result of documents the authorities confiscated from the MILF in November 2004.

In mid-1999, a North Korean businessman named Rim Kyu Do (phonetic) reportedly signed a contract with the MILF's vice chairman for political affairs, Ghazali Jaafar, to sell 10,000 U.S. military M-16 rifles, grenades as well as other types of arms and arms components for a total of $2.2 million.

On Sept. 25, 1999, the MILF, which reportedly has close ties with the terrorist group al-Qaida, paid a total of $1 million to North Korea in the form of two checks through a Malaysian middleman as the initial payment for the weapons, the daily said.

The weapons were shipped to MILF-controlled areas in the southern Philippine Mindanao Island by the end of December 2000 through a third country that appears to be Malaysia, it said.

On top of that deal, North Korea agreed around 2002 to sell a mini-submarine to the MILF, the paper said, adding that the Muslim rebels appear to have handed over hundreds of thousands of dollars as an initial payment.

But North Korea gave up on delivering the submarine as the security authorities obtained information about the deal, it said.

The MILF appears to have tried to obtain the submarine to enable suicide bombers and other MILF members to slip in to targeted areas secretly, according to the paper.

Security authorities from the Philippines and other countries confirmed the MILF has financed its guerrilla activities by periodically receiving money from al-Qaida and smuggling marijuana and stimulants produced in Mindanao, it said.

In June last year, the Philippine police arrested an al-Qaida member who had acted as a conduit to channel money to the MILF.

The paper said the MILF might have paid for the weapons from North Korea with money from al-Qaida.

It added the MILF also obtained money from Jemaah Islamiyah, a terrorist group believed to have masterminded the 2002 bombing attacks on the Indonesian resort of Bali and the 2004 attack on the Australian Embassy in Jakarta.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Jan 10, 2005
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