Three “Middle Eastern militants” are in custody in the Philippines for plotting to attack the US embassy in Manila, as well as three other embassies in the capital. Authorities suspect them of belonging to either Jemaah Islamiyah or Abu Sayyaf, both terrorist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda. They describe the plot as at an “advanced” stage, indicating an attack had been imminent:

Three suspected Middle Eastern militants have been arrested in connection with an alleged plot to bomb the U.S. and three other foreign embassies in the Philippines, officials said Thursday.

“There is a high probability that they are involved in some kind of plan to sow trouble,” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told reporters at an annual anti-terrorism and business security conference.

One of the suspects was arrested in Manila while the two others were separately captured in the southern Philippines recently.

Break out the AP/MSM-to-English dictionaries. “Middle Eastern militants” apparently means “radical Islamist terrorists” outside of media Newspeak. The AP fails to even mention al-Qaeda in this report, even though Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah both have affiliations to AQ. AQ funded Abu Sayyaf at its inception through Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa.

Why is this important? Al-Qaeda has bombed our embassies before. In 1998, bombers attacked American embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, killing over 200 Africans and a dozen Americans. It followed the AQ attack on Americans in Saudi Arabia at the Khobar Towers in 1996, and the embassy attacks resulted in the impotent missile attacks on al-Qaeda operations in Afghanistan and the pharmaceutical factory in the Sudan.

This plot indicates that al-Qaeda wants to dust off its playbook from ten years ago. It also indicates that the heightened intel effort against AQ has improved our ability to stop these plots. No one can describe Abu Sayyaf or Jemaah Islamiyah as “wannabes” when it comes to terrorism. If these men belonged to either or both of these networks, then they represented a real threat to our assets — and their capture sends a message to the terrorists that their networks have been compromised.