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Feb 07 2008

Are US Troops Involved In RP Combat Missions?

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 07, 2008) – US soldiers aiding Filipino troops in fighting the Abu Sayyaf maybe involved in the operation that killed seven Muslim civilians and a government soldier in the southern Philippines, reports said Thursday.

Filipino troops trained by US forces were blamed for the killings of 8 people during a military operation early Monday in the town of Maimbung in Sulu province. Among the dead were two children and two teenagers, including a pregnant woman and an off-duty army soldier.

The Philippine military insisted the operation targeted the Abu Sayyaf and two soldiers and three militants were also killed in subsequent fighting that erupted in the village of Ipil.

Those killed were identified as Marisa Payian, 4; Wedme Lahim, 9; Alnalyn Lahim, 15; Sulayman Hakob, 17; Kirah Lahim, 45; Eldisim Lahim, 43; Narcia Abon, 24; all civilians and Pfc. Ibnul Wahid, of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.

Wahid’s wife, Rawina, said she saw four US soldiers on a boat used by the raiders. «May nakita akong apat na Kano sa naval boat pagsakay ko na. Pagdating ko doon, piniringan kaagad ang mata ko. Sabi ko sa kanila, bakit nyo piniringan ang mata ko?, sabi nila ‘para pagdating namin dito sa itaas wala kang makita.»

«(I saw four Americans on the naval boat. When I climbed aboard, the soldiers blindfolded me. I asked them, ‘why did you blindfold me?’ They said, ‘so that you won’t see anything when we climb up.),» Rawina Wahid, wife of the slain soldier, told the ABS-CBN television in an interview.

Wahid said she boarded a Philippine Navy boat that took her husband’s remains to a military base in Jolo town.

ABS-CBN reported that other villagers also noticed the presence of US soldiers on the boat. It quoted reports by the human rights groups Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society and the Suara Bangsamoro that the presence of the US forces in the area raised concerns about its involvement in local military operations, which violates the Philippine Constitution. Black Lingerie

«Maraming tao diyan sa tabi ng naval boat at doon nakita nila yung mga sundalo na sumakay sa naval boat. Tapos ‘yung mga American forces din nasa itaas.»

«(They were many people near the naval boat and they saw the soldiers boarding it. The American forces were also aboard.),» ABS-CBN quoted Temugen Tulawie, of the CBCS, as saying.

«Sinasabi na with the presence of the US soldiers sa Sulu, magiging professional na daw yung AFP at mawawala ‘yung human rights violation. Mukhang iba ang nangyayari, tino-tolerate pala.»

«(They said that with the presence of US soldier in Sulu, the Armed Forces of the Philippines will be professionalized and there will lessen human rights violations. It seems the other way around, they were tolerating it.),» Tulawie said.

Maj. Gen. Ruben Rafael, commander of an anti-terror task force in Sulu province, denied the reports and said US soldiers were not involved in the operation. «No US soldiers were involved in the operation and they were not even near the town when the fighting broke out,» Rafael told the Mindanao Examiner by phone from his headquarters in Sulu.

Rafael said the military is still investigating the killings of the civilians, although he insisted the operation targeted the Abu Sayyaf group which is holding a kidnapped trader Rosalie Lao. «We are conducting our own investigation and we assure that there will be no cover-up in the probe,» he said.

Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan has condemned the killings of the innocent civilians and vowed to file criminal charges against the soldiers. He said many of those killed were shot in the head.

«Innocent civilians were killed. The children were shot in the head. We condemned the killings and those soldiers involved in the murder of innocent people must be charged in court and pay for their crimes,» Tan said.

Philippine Defense chief Gilberto Teodoro is expected to fly to Sulu later this week to meet with Tan and other provincial officials about the killings.

Philippine flags around Sulu were flown at half-mast since Tuesday as Muslims mourn the deaths of innocent civilians. Villagers said some of those killed were shot at sea while trying to escape the fighting on boat. The soldiers who raided the village were members of the Army’s Light Reaction Company, trained by US forces, and Navy’s Special Warfare Group.

On Thursday, the SALINLAHI Alliance for Children’s Concerns, an umbrella organization of child rights and welfare groups, strongly condemned the killings and urged for an independent probe of the incident.

«The usual casualties in this campaign are innocent civilians, particularly women and children. The incident again proved that the anti-terrorism campaign as well as the counter-insurgency program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines directed against the handful Abu Sayyaf and other armed groups is absorbed more by the civilian population rather than their real targets,» Alphonse Rivera, the group’s spokesman, said.

«Every incident involving military personnel as perpetrators is dismissed by the military top-brass as casualties of «legitimate encounters» to justify their acts and escape culpability. The next thing we will hear is that the military will insist that these children are also Abu Sayyaf members as if that will justify the killing,» Rivera said.

Reps. Yusop Jikiri, of Sulu province and Mujiv Hataman, of Basilan have separately called for a congressional investigation into the killings in Maimbung town.

Jikiri, a former rebel leader of the Moro National Liberation Front, said the off-duty soldier killed along with seven civilians was shot in front of his wife.

«Wahid was reportedly hogtied first before he was shot in front of her. The wife, in fact, showed the military uniform of her husband, but the soldiers merely ignored the plea of Mrs. Wahid. Later, Mrs. Wahid was taken by the soldiers to the rubber boat allegedly driven by an American soldier,» Jikiri said in a privilege speech in Congress on Wednesday.

Hataman also filed a resolution on Thursday seeking for an urgent investigation of the killings, which he described as «despicable, loathsome and ruthless.»

«There is no valid reason, especially for the soldiers who are supposed to be the protector of the people, to kill innocent civilians, particularly children,» he said.

The Commission on Human Rights has sent a team in Sulu province and is currently investigating the killings. (Mindanao Examiner)

Feb 06 2008

MILF Urges Probe To Sulu Killings


Muslim villagers look at corpses of civilians allegedly killed by members of the Philippine Navy’s Special Warfare Group and Philippine Army’ Light Reaction Company in Sulu province. Seven civilians, including two children and two teenagers, and an off-duty soldier were killed early Monday during a military raid on a suspected Abu Sayyaf hideout on a fishing village in Maimbung town. Two soldiers and three alleged militants were also killed in the fighting. Sulu Governor Sakur Tan and provincial officials strongly condemn the killings of innocent civilians and vowed to prosecute the soldiers involved in the mass murder. (Mindanao Examiner Photo/Nickee Butlangan)

 

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 06, 2008) – The Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), urged Manila to investigate accusations that government troops killed innocent civilians during a military operation in the southern island of Sulu.

Seven Muslims, among them two children and two teenagers, including a pregnant woman and an off-duty soldier, were killed at dawn Monday in the fishing village of Ipil in Maimbung town during a military raid on a suspected Abu Sayyaf hideout.

“This sad incident should be investigated properly. Finding the truth is very important in this investigation so that justice may prevail,” Eid Kabalu, an MILF spokesman, told the Mindanao Examiner.

The military said two soldiers and three militants were also killed in the clash, but security officials ordered a probe into the slaying of the civilians. Some of those killed were shot in the head at close range, families and relatives of the victims said.

Maj. Gen. Ruben Rafael, commander of an anti-terror task force in Sulu province, said the fighting in the town was a legitimate encounter.

Security officials said troops were tracking down a kidnapped trader Rosalie Lao in the town when they clashed with alleged Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya militants in the village of Ipil where the eight bodies had been found later in the day.

A village leader, Rahsi Agas, has accused troops of killing the civilians. «They were just seaweed farmers and not members of the Abu Sayyaf,» he said. He said some of those killed were shot at sea while trying to escape the fighting on boat. The soldiers who raided the village were members of the Army’s Light Reaction Company, trained by US forces, and Navy’s Special Warfare Group.

Survivors of the carnage said troops had attacked them, firing automatic weapons and rifle grenades, as they fled to safety in the dark. The soldiers were part of a specialized unit of the military.

Provincial government officials, led by Gov. Sakur Tan, condemned the killings of the civilians and said the perpetrators must be held to account.

“We will not tolerate this and justice should prevail. The perpetrators of these dastardly act must be punished and pay for their crimes,” he said.Flags in the southern province were flown at half staff since Tuesday to mourn the death of the civilians.

The Provincial Legislative Council also passed a resolution condemning the killings.

Those killed were identified as Marisa Payian, 4; Wedme Lahim, 9; Alnalyn Lahim, 15; Sulayman Hakob, 17; Kirah Lahim, 45; Eldisim Lahim, 43; Narcia Abon, 24; all civilians and Pfc. Ibnul Wahid, of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.

The human rights group, Suara Bangsamoro, also condemned the killings and urged Congress and the Senate to investigate the incident. The Commission on Human Rights sent a team of investigators to Sulu to probe the killings of the civilians.

(With reports from Nickee Butlangan and Juan Magtanggol)

Feb 05 2008

Sayyaf Man Nabbed In South RP

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 06, 2008) – Philippine authorities arrested a suspected Abu Sayyaf militant long wanted over a string of murder and kidnapping cases in the southern island of Basilan, officials said Wednesday.Police originally arrested Al-muadz Ismael for stealing a motorcycle Tuesday afternoon in the village of San Rafael in Isabela City, but later found out about his links with the Abu Sayyaf group that beheaded a kidnapped US tourist Guillermo Sobero almost eight years ago.Sobero was among two American missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham and 17 Filipino holidaymakers kidnapped in May 2001 by the Abu Sayyaf at the posh Dos Palmas resort in Palawan province in central Philippines. The hostages were brought by boat to Basilan island where the gang beheaded Sobero a month later during the country’s Independence Day celebration.Martin was also killed and his wife wounded during a US-led rescue operation in Zamboanga del Norte province in 2002. Three other Filipinos were killed in captivity and the rest had either escaped or paid huge ransom for their freedom.Officials said they are investigating Ismael about his role in the Dos Palmas kidnappings and the killing of Sobero. The alleged executioner of Sobero, Annik Abbas alias Abu Anik, was captured in Basilan’s Lamitan town in November 2006, two years after he escaped from prison in the island.The Abu Sayyaf which is also called “al-Harakatul al-Islamiya” or “Bearer of the Sword” is included in the US list of foreign terrorist organizations and has been linked to many bombings the past two decades in the Philippines, including an attack on a ferry on the Manila Bay that killed more than 100 passengers in February 2004.

The group was also tagged as behind a roadside bombing that killed a US soldier Sgt. 1st Class Mark Wayne Jackson, of the 1st Special Forces Group, participating in a joint anti-terror drill in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines in October 2002. (With a report from Ely Dumaboc)

Feb 05 2008

RP Flags Fly At Half-Mast In Sulu To Mourn Killings Of Civilians

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 05, 2008) – Philippine flags in the southern province of Sulu were flown at half-mast on Tuesday to mourn the death of innocent civilians killed during a military operation against the Abu Sayyaf group tied to Jemaah Islamiya.

Provincial government officials, led by Gov. Sakur Tan, condemned the killings and said they will file criminal charges against those involved in the raid. The Provincial Legislative Council also passed a resolution condemning the killings.

«Innocent civilians were killed. The children were shot in the head. We condemned the killings and those soldiers involved in the murder of innocent people must be charged in court and pay for their crimes,» Tan said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

The Philippine military on Tuesday ordered an investigation into the killing of 8 people in fierce clashes between security forces and Abu Sayyaf militants in Sulu province.

Seven of those killed in the town of Maimbung were civilians — three adults, two children and two teenagers — and an off duty army soldier.

“The Philippine flags were flown at half-mast in Sulu to mourn the death of the civilians,” Tan said.

Maj. Gen. Ruben Rafael, commander of an anti-terror task force in Sulu province, said two soldiers and three militants, including an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Abu Muktadil, were killed in the fighting.

«It was a legitimate encounter. As far as we are concerned, troops clashed with the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya. We have recovered the bodies of Muktadil,» he said, adding, they were also investigating whether the slain civilians were killed in the cross-fire or not.

Security officials said troops were tracking down a kidnapped trader Rosalie Lao in Maimbung town at dawn Monday when they clashed with alleged Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya militants in the village of Ipil where the eight bodies had been found later in the day.

It was not immediately known whether the 45-year old trader is being held in Maimbung town. Lao, who buys and sells Malaysian goods, was kidnapped Jan. 28 outside her home in Jolo town.

But a village leader, Rahsi Agas, has accused troops of killing the civilians. «They were just seaweed farmers and not members of the Abu Sayyaf,» he told reporters in Sulu.

He said some of those killed were shot at sea while trying to escape the fighting on boat. The soldiers who raided the village were members of the Army’s Light Reaction Company, trained by US forces, and Navy’s Special Warfare Group.

Those killed were identified as Marisa Payian, 4; Wedme Lahim, 9; Alnalyn Lahim, 15; Sulayman Hakob, 17; Kirah Lahim, 45; Eldisim Lahim, 43; Narcia Abon, 24; all civilians and Pfc. Ibnul Wahid, of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division. (With a report from Nickee Butlangan)

Feb 04 2008

7 Civilians Among Dead In Sulu Clash

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 05, 2008) – The Philippine military on Tuesday ordered an investigation into the killing of 8 people in fierce clashes between security forces and Abu Sayyaf militants in Sulu province.

Seven of those killed in the town of Maimbung were civilians — three adults, two children and two teenagers — and an army soldier who was on a break.

Security officials said troops, tracking down a kidnapped trader Rosalie Lao, clashed at dawn Monday with Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya militants in the village of Ipil where the eight bodies had been found later in the day.

Maj. Gen. Ruben Rafael, commander of an anti-terror task force in Sulu province, said two soldiers and three militants, including an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Abu Muktadil, were killed in the fighting.

“It was a legitimate encounter. As far as we are concerned, troops clashed with the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya. We have recovered the bodies of Muktadil, but soldiers also found eight more bodies in the area and we are trying to find out whether they were caught in the cross-fire or slain by terrorists,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

But a village leader Rahsi Agas accused troops of killing the civilians. “They were just seaweed farmers and not members of the Abu Sayyaf,” he said in a separate interview.

He said some of those killed were shot at sea while escaping the fighting on boat.

Among those killed were Marisa Payian, 4; Wedme Lahim, 9; Alnalyn Lahim, 15; Sulayman Hakob, 17; Kirah Lahim, 45; Eldisim Lahim, 43; Narcia Abon, 24; all civilians and Pfc. Ibnul Wahid, of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.

Provincial government officials, led by Gov. Sakur Tan, has condemned the killings and urged the military to investigate and file charges against those involved in the attack on the civilians. “We not only condemn the killings of innocent civilians, but criminal charges should be filed against the perpetrators of this heinous crime,” he said.

Army Maj. Eugene Batara, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, said they were investigating reports the killings were triggered by a family feud.

“There was fighting between two warring families in the area and the encounter and exchange of fires could have triggered the volatile situation between the families.”

“The encounter and the killing of civilians may have been two different incidents taking place simultaneously,” he said.

Lt. Gen. Nelson Allaga, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, flew to Sulu province on Tuesday to investigate the incident, Batara said.It was not immediately known whether the 45-year old trader is being held in Maimbung town. Lao, who buys and sells Malaysian goods, was kidnapped Jan. 28 outside her home in Jolo town.

The fighting erupted barely a week before US and Philippine troops are to begin joint humanitarian and medical missions in Sulu, about 950 kilometers south of Manila, as part of the Balikatan, which means «shoulder-to-shoulder», the codename for the annual joint anti-terror training.

Filipino authorities previously said that as many as 40 Indonesian militants are hiding in Sulu and being protected by the Abu Sayyaf and among them are Dulmatin and Umar Patek, who masterminded the 2002 Bali attacks that killed 202 people. (With a report from Nickee Butlangan)

Feb 03 2008

Fighting Erupts In Sulu Ahead Of RP-US Training

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 04, 2008) – At least 5 people were killed in fierce fighting that broke out Monday in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, where security forces were battling Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya militants, officials and military intelligence sources said.

Officials said two soldiers and three militants were killed in the fighting that erupted before day break in the village of Ipil in Maimbung town, a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf group with ties to Jemaah Islamiya, an Indonesian terror group blamed for the 2002 deadly Bali bombings that killed 202 people.

“Three terrorists were killed and two of our soldiers are also slain in the fighting in Sulu. There is an ongoing operation against the terrorists,” Army Major Eugene Batara, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, told The Mindanao Examiner.

Batara said five soldiers were also wounded in the clash that began shortly before 3 a.m. “The soldiers were on a mission to rescue a kidnapped trader when they encountered the terrorists,” he said.

It was not immediately known whether the group was holding Rosalie Lao, 45, who was kidnapped Jan. 28 outside her home in Jolo town. Lao, who buys and sells Malaysian goods in Jolo, is a Filipino Muslim with Chinese ancestry.

The fighting erupted barely a week before US and Philippine troops are to begin joint humanitarian and medical missions in Sulu, about 950 kilometers south of Manila, as part of the Balikatan 2008.

Balikatan, which means “shoulder-to-shoulder”, is the codename for the annual joint anti-terror training and hundreds of US troops are deployed in Sulu since last year where they also held a joint military drill with local soldiers.

Government intelligence sources said a group of Jemaah Islamiya militants were fighting alongside with the Abu Sayyaf. But it was unknown whether the militants were local recruits or Indonesians.

Filipino authorities previously said that as many as 40 Indonesian militants are hiding in Sulu and being protected by the Abu Sayyaf and among them are Dulmatin and Umar Patek, who masterminded the Bali attacks.

The heightened Abu Sayyaf activity on Sulu began when the military ordered thousands of infantrymen, including an army brigade, deployed to Lanao province on January 18. Only two marine brigades, composed of about 5,000 soldiers and a few hundred army troops, are left to quell a growing insurgency and terrorism, especially at a time that peace is slowly returning to Sulu, one of five provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Village leaders were also asking the military to send additional troops to Sulu to address the threats of the Abu Sayyaf, blamed on the spate of terrorism and kidnappings in the province.

Provincial government officials fear the Abu Sayyaf may be active again after months of silence. Officials were worried about the implications of the kidnapping and threats of terrorism to Sulu’s economy and the peace and order situation at a time the province is being promoted as a new cultural and tourism destination in southern Philippines.

Sulu has recently embarked on a tourism campaign called «Visit Sulu 2008» in an effort to attract visitors and investments in the province, whose pristine beaches, dive sites and beautiful tropical islands are one of its attractions.

The US Embassy in Manila on Monday said the Balikatan will take place in the Philippines starting on February 18 up to March 3.

“During Balikatan 2008, Philippine and U.S. members of the armed forces will conduct humanitarian assistance projects in Central and Western Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago, and Palawan. They will offer free medical, dental, and veterinary care and construct and repair schools and other community infrastructure in communities most in need of assistance.”

“The Balikatan 2008 will also focus on training both of our armed forces to provide relief and assistance together, in the event of natural disasters and other crises that endanger public health and safety. Military service members of our countries will conduct combined staff exercises and field training in Luzon and Palawan to improve contingency planning and strengthen maritime security.

Feb 01 2008

Bihag Ng Sayyaf, Walang Balita

Todo bantay ang mga miyembro ng Philippine Marines sa bayan ng Jolo sa Sulu province sa larawang ito na kuha ngayon Biyernes, ika-1 ng Pebrero 2008. Bihag ng Abu Sayyaf ang isangn negosyante sa Sulu. (Kuha ng Mindanao Examiner/Nickee Butlangan)

 

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 01, 2008) – Patuloy ang paghahanap ng mga sundalo at parak sa mga Abu Sayyaf na may hawak sa isang negosyanteng babae na kanilang dinukot sa bayan ng Jolo.

Wala naman balita ukol sa biktimang si Rosalie Lao, na may maliit na tindahan ng mga barter goods sa naturang bayan. Takot na rin ang umiiral sa maraming mga negosyante dahil sa pagdukot kay Lao na kilalang mabait sa kanilang bayan.

May dugong Muslim o Tausug si Lao subalit sa kabila nito ay dinukot pa rin siya ng Abu Sayyaf. May negosasyon na umano ang pamilya nito sa mga kidnappers, ngunit sa kabila nito ay walang tigil ang paghahanap ng mga awtoridad kay Lao.

Unang araw pa lang ng madukot si Lao ay agad na pinulong ni Gov. Sakur Tan ang mga opisyal ng lalawigan na bumubuo ng Crisis Management Committee upang maresolba ang panibagong krisis na nagbabanta sa magandang takbo ng local na ekonomilya at turismo sa Sulu.

Bukod kay Lao ay hawak rin ng Abu sayyaf si Omar Taup, isang teacher na dinukot nuong Enero 15 sa South Ubian, isang bayan sa Tawi-Tawi matapos na patayin ng grupo ang Katolikong pari na si Jesus Reynadlo Roda matapos sa bigong pagdukot sa kanya.

Maging ang mga residente ngayon ay takot ang umiiral dahil sa muling paghahasik ng lagim ng Abu Sayyaf sa Sulu. Naganap ang pagbaba ng Abu Sayyaf mula sa kabundukan ilang araw lamang ang lumipas ng ilipat nuong Enero 18 sa Lanao provinces ang buong puwersa ng Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade.

Jan 28 2008

Sayyaf Strikes Again In South RP

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 28, 2008) – Suspected Abu Sayyaf militants on Monday kidnapped a female trader in the southern Philippine province of Sulu.

Gunmen seized the trader outside her house in Jolo town at around 5.30 p.m. Monday and relatives were said to be negotiating for her safe release. It was unknown whether the kidnappers demanded ransom.

The woman, who buys and sells Malaysian goods in Jolo, is a Filipino Muslim with Chinese ancestry.

But government intelligence reports said two other women were kidnapped Monday in Jolo town, although their names were not immediately known. The reports said the women were being held in the hinterlands near Patikul town.

The kidnappings came ahead of a joint RP-US military training in Sulu. US and Philippine troops are set to begin this month the Balikatan 2008, codename for the annual joint anti-terror training. Hundreds of US troops are deployed in Sulu since last year where they also held an anti-terror training with local soldiers.

Last week, Abu Sayyaf gunmen shot and killed a man while eating on a roadside restaurant in Jolo town. Gunmen shot in the man in the head.

One Muslim trader, suspected of helping the government’s anti-insurgency operation, was also kidnapped in Jolo last Tuesday and briefly held him in Patikul town. He was tortured before being freed, his relatives said.

Abu Sayyaf also held several passengers of a commuter van at a highway near Patikul town last week, but freed all of them after one of the victims turned out to be a Muslim cleric. But the group seized a local engineer and freed his after he allegedly paid money in the village of Taung in Patikul town, a known stronghold of the militant group ties to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya.

The heightened Abu Sayyaf activity on Sulu began when the military ordered thousands of infantrymen, including an army brigade, deployed to Lanao province on January 18. Only two marine brigades, composed of about 5,000 soldiers and a few hundred army troops, are left to quell a growing insurgency and terrorism, especially at a time that peace is slowly returning to Sulu.

Provincial government officials fear the Abu Sayyaf may be active again after months of silence. Officials were worried about the implications of the kidnapping and new threats of terrorism to Sulu’s economy and the peace and order situation at a time the province is being promoted as a new cultural and tourism destination in southern Philippines.

Sulu has recently embarked on a tourism campaign called «Visit Sulu 2008» in an effort to attract visitors and investments in the province, whose pristine beaches, dive sites and beautiful tropical islands are one of its attractions.

Village leaders were also asking the military to send additional troops to Sulu to address the threats of the Abu Sayyaf, blamed on the spate of terrorism and kidnappings in the province, about 950 kilometers south of Manila.

Last week, Sulu launched its own version of the citizen ID system in Patikul town aimed at protecting villagers against terrorism. Mayors and business groups and citizens supported the ID system which will eventually launch in other towns. Sulu is one of five provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner)

Jan 23 2008

Abu Sayyaf Lording Again In Southern Philippines


Two Muslim women look at a military truck carrying troops in Sulu province in southern Philippines. Military intelligence reports say Abu Sayyaf militants have put up roadblocks and checkpoints in Patikul town and collecting forced taxation on Muslim villagers on Wednesday. Two policemen rest in Patikul town during a peace caravan Saturday, January 19, 2008. (Mindanao Examiner Photos/Arthur Abasolo and Jun Delgado)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 23, 2008) – Suspected Abu Sayyaf militants have put up roadblocks in the southern Filipino province of Sulu and were extorting illegal taxation from Muslim villagers.

The militant, mostly members of an Abu Sayyaf faction from Basilan province, were spotted in the town of Patikul and had attempted to kidnap local construction workers, according to military intelligence reports.

It was unclear how the attempted kidnapping occur, but another report said one Muslim engineer Jumlail Esmael was almost abducted after he was stopped at a checkpoint, but had negotiated his way to freedom. It was not immediately known whether the man paid money or not.

It said the gunmen, numbering more than 100 had split into several groups near the village of Taung and were collecting so-called «revolutionary taxes.» One report said the Abu Sayyaf is also holding in the town of Indanan a Muslim teacher it kidnapped in Tawi-Tawi province on January 15.

It was unknown whether the hostage was Omar Taup, a Notre Dame teacher kidnapped in the village of Likud Tabawan in Tawi-Tawi’s South Ubian town. A Catholic priest, Jesus Reynaldo Roda, was killed by the Abu Sayyaf during the kidnapping.

Last week, suspected Abu Sayyaf also kidnapped a junk shop worker and was only freed after his employer paid about P200,000 ransom.

The latest military intelligence reports came just days after the military ordered the pull out of all army troops and redeployed them in the province of Lanao del Norte as part of a new strategy in combating terrorism.

The Philippine Marines have taken over the functions of the army in anti-insurgency operation in Sulu, but dozens of their soldiers were killed by the Abu Sayyaf and Moro National Liberation Front rebels in fierce clashes since last year.

Villagers were worried that the redeployment of army troops would trigger the return of Abu Sayyaf to Sulu province, where security forces are pursuing several Jemaah Islamiya bombers, including Indonesian militant Dulmatin and Umar Patek, blamed for several bombings in the province.

Jan 23 2008

Slain Catholic Missioner Buried In Southern Philippines




Slain Catholic priest Jesus Reynaldo Roda is buried Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2008 in Shariff Kabunsuan province in southern Philippines. Roda is killed by the Abu Sayyaf in Tawi-Tawi’s South Ubian town during a failed kidnapping. (Mindanao Examiner Photo/Mark Navales)

 

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 23, 2008) – A Filipino Catholic priest killed by Abu Sayyaf militants during a kidnapping attempt in the southern Philippines was buried on Wednesday in his hometown in the Muslim province of Shariff Kabunsuan.

Oblate priest Jesus Reynaldo Roda was peppered with bullets by militants after he resisted the kidnapping July 15 in the remote village of Likud Tabawan in South Ubian town in Tawi-Tawi province.

Roda was killed outside his convent at the compound of the Notre Dame High School, where he also served as its director. The Abu Sayyaf kidnapped a teacher, Omar Taup and seized another Muslim villager as they escaped from pursuing policemen.

Hundreds of villagers and sympathizers, many were weeping, gathered at the Oblates cemetery in Datu Odin Sinsuat town where the priest was laid to rest.

Father Rito Daquipil, head of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate mission in Tawi-Tawi province, said the Abu Sayyaf raided the convent. He said the militants then tied Roda’s hands and then dragged outside the convent where he was shot in the head after resisting the kidnapping.

Roda was praying when the militants, about 10 of them armed with rifles and handguns, seized the priest and dragged him outside the chapel, Daquipil said.

“We are all sad. Father Roda was a good man and loved by everybody. He was there doing missionary works with our Muslim brothers and sisters for the past ten years,” Daquipil said.

Security forces have mounted a massive search for the gunmen, but failed to locate them and their hostages.

It was not the first time that the Abu Sayyaf killed a Catholic priest. In 2002, militants also kidnapped, tortured and killed a Claretian priest Roel Gallardo in Basilan province, several nautical miles south of Zamboanga City.

In 1997, the Abu Sayyaf also assassinated a Catholic bishop Benjamin de Jesus in Jolo town in Sulu province. He was shot several times outside his church in a broad daylight attack.

Three years later, the Abu Sayyaf also ambushed a Catholic missionary, Benjamin Inocencio, in Jolo town while buying gifts for poor Muslims. The Abu Sayyaf also randomly attacked and bombed Catholic churches in Tawi-Tawi, Sulu and in Mindanao the past decade.

The Abu Sayyaf, which means «Bearer of the Sword,» was originally fighting for a separate Islamic state similar to Afghanistan, but resorted to banditry and kidnappings for ransom after its Libyan firebrand founder, Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, was killed in 1998 in a firefight with policemen in Basilan province. (With reports from Mark Navales and Nickee Butlangan)

Jan 03 2008

Sayyaf Leader Captured In Southern Philippines

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 05, 2008) – Security forces captured a sub-leader of the Abu Sayyaf group implicated in the 2001 kidnapping of three US citizens in the Philippines, officials said on Friday.

Officials said government agents, backed by soldiers and policemen, captured Tuatin Anahalul alias Abu Basilan in a raid on an Abu Sayyaf hideout Thursday afternoon on the island of Margo sa Tubig in Zamboanga del Sur province.

“The terrorist leader is still being interrogated. He is one of those involved in the Dos Palmas kidnapping and Lamitan siege,” Army Major Eugene Batara, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, told the Mindanao Examiner.

Batara was referring to the Abu Sayyaf raid on the posh Dos Palmas resort in Palawan province in central Philippines where militants snatched Kansas missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham and Californian Guillermo Sobero and 17 Filipino holidaymakers and brought them by boat to Basilan island.

And the Abu Sayyaf raid on Lamitan town in Basilan where the militants took over a private hospital and held more than 100 people and escaping four days later after battling government soldiers.

He said informants tipped off the military about the presence of Anahalul, who is long wanted by authorities.

“Civilian informants provided vital intelligence about the subject and his capture is a good start this year in our anti-terrorism campaign. We will not relent in our operation to track down and arrest terrorists and this is the order of General Nelson Allaga,” Batara said.

Allaga is the chief of the Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City. Last month, security forces also raided an Abu Sayyaf hideout in Zamboanga City and captured two militants also implicated in the Dos Palmas kidnapping.

In November, government soldiers nabbed Abu Sayyaf militant, Teteng Mandangan, said to be involved also in the same kidnappings in the southern Tawi-Tawi province.

The Abu Sayyaf beheaded Sobero in Basilan province a month after the kidnapping while Martin Burnham was shot and killed the next year in a US-led military rescue operation in nearby Zamboanga del Norte province.

Gracia Burnham was rescued by Filipino troops, but she was also wounded. Some of the Filipino hostages were also killed and wounded by the Abu Sayyaf during their captivity.

The Burnham couple was celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary party on May 27, 2001 at Dos Palmas when the Abu Sayyaf attacked the resort.

Since her rescue, Gracia Burnham has written two books, ‘In the Presence of My Enemies’ and ‘To Fly Again’ and now works as a popular church speaker. (Mindanao Examiner)

Dec 24 2007

Informant Gets P10 Million Reward

A military informant helps Major General Nelson Allaga, left, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, as he puts the reward money into a bag. (Mindanao Examiner/WMC Photo)

 

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 24, 2007) – The Philippine military rewarded ten million pesos to a Muslim villager who provided troops with information that led to the killing of a top Abu Sayyaf leader.

 

Major General Nelson Allaga, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, handed the reward Sunday to the man, whose face and body were covered to hide his identity, in Zamboanga City.

 

The man was said to be behind the killing of Khadaffy Janjalani last year.

 

“He pointed the exact location of Janjalani and the group that led to a firefight with the elements of 3rd Marine Brigade of the Philippine Marine Corps under Joint Task Force “Comet”, in Sulu on September 4, 2006,” Allaga said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

 

“The informant received the money for providing vital information about the ASG over-all leader to the Armed Forces of the Philippines resulting to the successful combat operation and neutralization of Khadaffy Janjalani,” he said.

Allaga said the reward is designed to encourage people to provide timely and essential information that could help law enforcers and authorities to locate terrorists and thwart attacks. (Mindanao Examiner)

Dec 24 2007

Militants Attack Southern Philippine Village

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 24, 2007) – Suspected Abu Sayyaf militants attacked a remote village in the province of Sulu, about 950 kilometers south of Manila, officials said Monday.

Officials said the gunmen strafed the village of Latih in Patikul town, but no one was hurt or killed in the attack.

Initial military reports said about ten gunmen fired indiscriminately to the village and apparently were targeting the village chieftain Ahmad Albani.

The motive of the attack was unknown, but Albani is a staunch military supporter. (Nickee Butlangan)

Dec 19 2007

Troops Hunt Sayyaf In Basilan Island

BASILAN, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 19, 2007) – Security forces on Wednesday searched for Abu Sayyaf militants blamed for the killing of two soldiers in the southern Filipino province of Basilan, officials said.

Officials said two soldiers were killed and five more wounded in four hours of fighting in the town of Ungkaya Pukan on Tuesday, where gunmen fired on a helicopter transporting US soldiers on Basilan.

«There is an operation going on,» Major Eugene Batara, a regional army spokesman, told the Mindanao Examiner.

He said an undetermined number of militants were believed killed in the fighting. «We don’t have body counts but we believed many gunmen were either killed of wounded in the clash,» he said.

The town’s mayor Joel Maturan said militants, backed by rogue members of the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, aided the Abu Sayyaf in attacking marines in the area.

«The Abu Sayyaf and the lost-command group of the MILF attacked the marines and fighting was really intense,» he said.

It was unknown how many villagers have fled the town for fear that the fighting would escalate into a bigger war.

On Tuesday, gunmen straffed a helicopter carrying American soldiers near the town. A small contingent of US troops are deployed in Basilan to aide Filipino troops in defeating the Abu Sayyaf, tagged as international terrorist group by Washington.

(Mindanao Examiner)

Dec 18 2007

Two Kidnapped Filipinos Escape In Sulu Province

Policemen escort two escaped men in the southern RP province of Sulu. (Mindanao Examiner Photo/Nickee Butlangan)

 

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 18, 2007) – Two Filipinos seized in the southern province of Sulu had escaped from their captors and security forces on Monday mounted fresh operation to capture Abu Sayyaf militants tagged as behind the kidnappings, officials said.

Officials said the two men, Rolando Benitez and Edmar Molina, escaped late Sunday in the village of Wanni in Patikul town, five days after they were seized in the neighboring town of Patikul.

It was unknown how the two men were able to escaped, but Maj. Gen. Reuben Rafael, commander of military forces in Sulu, said troops were pursuing the kidnappers in the hinterlands.

«The victims are now in our custody and were already examined by doctors. They are okay,» Rafael told the Mindanao Examiner by telephone from Sulu, about 950 kilometers south of Manila.

He said soldiers were tracking down the militants, who originally demanded five million pesos ransom in exchange for the safe release of the two men, who are workers of Panglima town mayor Munib Estino in Sulu.

The two had been recovered by soldiers, sent to rescue them, Rafael said. «The kidnappers may have also been pressured by the rescue operation, They were constantly moving from one hideout to another and this gave the victims a chance to escape,» he said.

Other reports said the two men sought the help of a villager, who turned out to be a member of the former rebel group Moro National Liberation Front, and informed police about the escape.

The two were driving a jeep in Patikul when gunmen flagged down the vehicle and seized them. The gunmen also took their jeep.

Estino is an influential politician in Sulu. It was unclear whether the abduction was connected to a feud or not or has anything to do with the politician or simply for money. Two of the kidnappers have been identified as Kirrih Hamid and Juhurim Husein. (Nickee Butlangan)

Dec 15 2007

Muslim Rebels Appeal For Patience As Peace Talks Failed

SULTAN KUDARAT, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 16, 2007) – The Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), appealed for patience as peace talks with Manila stalled over demands for a separate Muslim homeland in the strife-torn, but mineral-rich region of Mindanao.

The MILF accused Manila of reneging to its commitment after peace talks failed Saturday in Malaysia, which is brokering the negotiations.

Mohagher Iqbal, chief MILF peace negotiator, said the Philippine panel last month agreed on the scope of the Muslim ancestral domain, but reneged on the accord that will constitute a separate homeland for about 4 million Muslims and indigenous tribes in Mindanao.

”This ugly turn of event in the peace process is taxing the patience of the MILF and the Bangsamoro people, who may be compelled to resort to other means, pacific or otherwise, of resolving the Mindanao conflict when they are pushed to the wall and become hopeless in the present peace process,” Iqbal said.

The MILF said government negotiators headed by Rodolfo Garcia completely disregarded the agreement on the ancestral domain and insisted again that the granting of homeland to Muslims in Mindanao would solely be through Constitutional process which the rebel group previously opposed.

But the Philippine charter prohibits the dismembering of the country.

“This stance of the GRP peace panel has virtually jeopardized the integrity of the peace process and to continue with the talks would virtually turn it into a circus,” Iqbal said.

“The Philippine negotiators introduced extraneous and new matters not discussed and taken upon by the parties during the previous exploratory talks on ancestral domain that led to the signing of several consensus points.”

Iqbal said government leaders opposed to the peace talks should be blamed for the break down in the negotiations.

“We believe that spoilers of the peace process right at the corridors of powers are at work behind the scene to intervene again at the expense of our honorable counterpart from the government, without the knowledge of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” he said without elaborating further.

”The MILF peace panel, from the start of the talks in January 1997, has been serious in finding a just, lasting, and comprehensive political settlement of the Moro problem and the conflict in Mindanao and, therefore, has detested and will not participate in any double deal that would lead the parties to end.”

“The stand of the MILF peace panel and their principal, the Central Committee of the MILF, is that it is better to have no agreement at all than to enter into a bad agreement. The MILF leadership therefore appeals to the public and our constituents for their understanding and patience and steadfast in the support of the peace process,” he said.

Peace talks had been stalled since September last year after both sides failed to agree on the scope of the ancestral domain, which is the single most important issue in the peace negotiations before the rebel group can reach a political settlement.

Iqbal last week said that both sides are expected to sign the formal agreement on ancestral domain probably before the end of the year after the two groups ended a meeting in Malaysia in November.

The ancestral domain which covers the whole of Muslim autonomous region and other areas in Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces where there are large communities of Muslims and indigenous tribes. And even Palawan Island in central Philippines and the Sulu Archipelago.

Mohammad Ameen, a senior rebel leader, said the MILF will only sign a peace deal with Manila if it establishes genuine governance for Muslims either in the form of “state” or “sub-state”.

President Gloria Arroyo has opened up peace talks with the MILF, the Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group fighting for the establishment of a strict Islamic state, in 2001.

The MILF earlier warned that hostilities may erupt in Mindanao if the peace talks fail or if Malaysia pulls out its truce observers from the International Monitoring Team in Mindanao, whose 16 million populations included four million Muslims.

The IMT is composed of 41 officers from the Malaysian Defense Forces, the Royal Malaysia Police, and the Prime Minister’s Department and is also supported by 10 military officers from Brunei Darussalam and 5 from Libya. Japan also has a member in the IMT.

But analysts fear that Arroyo or her allies in the House of Representatives might use the peace talks with the MILF as an excuse to amend the Constitution to change the system of government from presidential to parliamentary or federalism to allow the MILF to have a separate state and eventually prolong her into power beyond 2010.

Under the presidential form of government, Arroyo, who deposed President Joseph Estrada in a people power revolution in 2001, is allowed only one six-year term.

In the charter change proposal suggested by her political allies who dominate Congress, she can be elected as prime minister should Congress approve a proposal to dissolve the Senate and change the system of government to parliamentary. (Mindanao Examiner)

Dec 15 2007

Sayyaf Man Killed In South RP Clash

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 16, 2007) – Security forces killed an Abu Sayyaf militant in a clash in the remote southern Philippine province of Tawi-Tawi, officials said Sunday.

Officials said the fighting killed Abdul Sakandal late Saturday after troops raided his hideout.

Sakandal was implicated in kidnappings of foreigners in the southern Philippines, including an Abu Sayyaf raid on the Malaysian resort island of Sipadan in 2000 where 21 mostly Asian and Western holiday-makers had been taken.

Sakandal was hiding in Tawi-Tawi after he fled a massive military operation in Basilan island several years ago. He also sought refuge in Sulu province, but also escaped military operations there only to be tracked down in Tawi-Tawi.

It was not immediately known if soldiers took Sakandal’s body or if someone claimed the corpse, but the militant was originally included in the government’s most wanted list and had a P2 million bounty for his capture dead of alive.

A military report said informants helped troops tracked down Sakandal on a village in the province, where several Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya militants had been previously killed in firefight.

The Abu Sayyaf is believed to be harboring Jemaah Islamiya militants Dulmatin and Umar Patek, both tagged by Jakarta as behind the 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 people, including 88 Australian tourists.

Aside from the duo, Philippine authorities said there are more than two dozen Indonesian Jemaah Islamiya militants in the strife-torn, but mineral-rich region of Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner)

Dec 11 2007

2 Sayyaf Men Captured In Zamboanga City

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 11, 2007) – Security forces captured two suspected Abu Sayyaf militants in a raid on a hideout in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, police and military said.

Police said the duo was captured late Monday on a village called Talabaan, east of Zamboanga.

No details about the duo were made available, except that they were being investigated in the kidnapping of three US citizens and 17 Filipinos from a posh resort in central Philippines six years ago.

The military confirmed the arrest of the two, but their names were withheld because of an ongoing operation to track down other militants hiding in Zamboanga City.

Other sources said one of the two men was identified as Adel Kamala, who is long wanted on charges of kidnappings in Basilan province, south of Zamboanga City.

The men were implicated in the kidnapping of Kansas missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham and California man Guillermo Sobero and the Filipinos in Dos Palmas resort in Palawan province.

Last month, government soldiers also captured an Abu Sayyaf militant, Teteng Mandangan, linked to the Dos Palmas kidnappings, in the southern Tawi-Tawi province.

The Abu Sayyaf beheaded Sobero in Basilan province a month after the kidnapping while Martin Burnham was shot and killed the next year in a US-led military rescue operation in nearby Zamboanga del Norte province.

Gracia Burnham was rescued by Filipino troops, but she was also wounded. Some of the Filipino hostages were also killed and wounded by the Abu Sayyaf during their captivity.

The Burnham couple was celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary party on May 27, 2001 at Dos Palmas when the Abu Sayyaf attacked the resort.

Since her rescue, Gracia Burnham has written two books, ‘In the Presence of My Enemies’ and ‘To Fly Again’ and now works as a popular church speaker. (Mindanao Examiner)

Nov 22 2007

1 Killed in Southern Philippines Bombing

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 22, 2007) – One person was killed in a powerful explosion Thursday that ripped through a shopping mall in the troubled southern Philippine region of Mindanao, officials said.

Officials said the blast also injured a still undetermined number of shoppers in Kidapawan City in North Cotabato province. The explosion was believed from a bomb that was left at the baggage counter of KNCC Mall.

«We are awaiting reports from the field,» Lt. Col. Julieto Ando, a spokesman for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, told the Mindanao Examiner.

Other reports said as many as six people were wounded in the blast that shattered glass panes and windows at the mall.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the attack, but previous bombings in the area had been blamed by Filipino authorities to the Indonesian terror group Jemaah Islamiya and their local counterpart, the Abu Sayyaf.

Two powerful bombs also exploded in October at the busy business district of Kidapawan City that killed three people and wounded 32 others.

Soldiers in October also disarmed a homemade bomb planted at a market in Pikit town in North Cotabato in October.

Prior to that, two homemade bombs exploded inside two commuter buses in Marbel town and in Cotabato City.

The region is also where Filipino troops are pursuing Zulkifli bin Hir and two other Jemaah Islamiya bomb-makers, Dulmatin and Umar Patek, both tagged by Jakarta as behind the 2002 Bali bombings.

Manila said about three dozen other Jemaah Islamiya accomplices are believed hiding in Mindanao. The United States and Australia are helping the Philippines on its so-called war on terror by providing aid and training to local troops. (Mindanao Examiner)

Nov 20 2007

Gracia Burham, Ex-Sayyaf Hostage To Speak In Lisburn: Ulster Star

AN AMERICAN ex-missionary whose husband was killed while both were hostages for a year in the Phillipines will speak at two events in Lisburn this weekend.

Gracia Burnham, who herself was wounded during a firefight between the Phillipine military and the Abu Sayyaf Group in which her husband Martin was killed, will tell her unique story at Lisburn Baptist Church at 8 pm on Friday night and at Lisburn Cathedral on Sunday morning (November 25) at 11 am.The event is organised by Friends in Action, a charity that works in Africa to assist missionaries and the people they work with.Gracia who has three children — Jeff, Mindy and Zach — worked with her husband for 17 years as a missionary.They served with New Tribes Mission in the Philippines where Martin was a jungle pilot delivering mail, supplies and offering encouragement to other missionaries. He also helped to transport sick and injured patients to medical facilities.Gracia served in various roles supporting the aviation programme and also home-schooled their children, all of whom were born in the Philippines. It was during their 18th wedding anniversary party on May 27, 2001 at Dos Palmas Resort off Palawan Island, that the Burnhams were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf Group. They also seized guests and took them to Basilan Island, an ASG stronghold.During their 376 days of captivity other hostages were killed, while some were set free and from November 2001 the Burnhams and one other were the last remaining hostages.They faced near starvation, constant exhaustion, frequent gun battles, murder and intense soul-searching about a God who sometimes seemed to have forgotten them.Then on June 7 2002, in a firefight between the Philippine military and the Abu Sayyaf Group, Martin was killed and although Gracia was wounded she and the rest of her family were finally freed.Since she was set free Gracia has written two books, ‘In the Presence of My Enemies’ and ‘To Fly Again’ and now works a popular church speaker. Her oldest son Jeff is now married and studies missionary aviation at Liberty University. Mindy, Zach and Gracia live in Rose Hill, Kansas.

For more information, please contact Friends in Action on 028 9266 8194

 

Nov 06 2007

8 Soldiers Wounded In Sayyaf Clash In Southern Philippines

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 07, 2007) – Eight government soldiers were wounded in a clash with Abu Sayyaf militants on a remote village in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, officials said Tuesday.

Officials said a still undetermined number of gunmen were either killed of wounded in the fighting late Monday in the hinterland village of Tiis in Talipao town.

“Eight of out soldiers are wounded in the clash. We believed many terrorists are either killed or wounded in the fighting. There is a pursuit operation going on today,” Major Eugene Batara, a regional army spokesman, told the Mindanao Examiner.

Other reports said troops clashed with members of the Moro National Liberation Front which signed a peace deal with Manila in 1996. Troops and MNLF members had previously clashed in Sulu province, about 950 kilometers south of Manila.

The United States listed the Abu Sayyaf as a foreign terrorist organization and has offered as much as ten million dollars rewards for the capture of its known leaders.

President Gloria Arroyo also set aside more than one hundred million pesos in bounties for the capture of Abu Sayyaf leaders dead or alive. The US is helping Manila defeat terrorism and sent soldiers to train Filipino troops in anti-terrorism warfare. (Mindanao Examiner)

Nov 05 2007

Sayyaf Militant Killed In Basilan Island Raid

BASILAN ISLAND, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 05, 2007) – Government soldiers killed an Abu Sayyaf militant after storming Monday a hideout of the al-Qaeda-linked group in the southern Philippine island of Basilan, officials said.

Officials said soldiers attacked the hideout on a remote village called Bato-Bato in Akbar town at around 5.30 a.m. sparking a firefight that killed the gunman.

“One terrorist is killed in the raid and troops are still pursuing several more who managed to escape during the fighting,” Major Eugene Batara, a regional army spokesman, told the Mindanao Examiner.

He said troops recovered an M16 automatic rifle from the slain militant. There were no reports of military casualties, he said.

The Abu Sayyaf, which means “bearer of the sword,” initially was fighting for Muslim homeland after Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, founded the group in the late 1980s.

But the group, mostly made up of former Moro National Liberation front rebels, resorted to banditry and terrorism after Janjalani was killed in a firefight with policemen in Basilan island in 1989.

Washington listed the group as a foreign terrorist organization after the Abu Sayyaf abducted a US citizen, Guillermo Sobero, and beheaded him in 2001. The group was also linked in many kidnappings of foreigners, including three US nationals; one of them was later shot during a rescue operation in Zamboanga del Norte province. (Mindanao Examiner)

Nov 02 2007

The Future of the ‘War on Terror’: Fox News

WASHINGTON — This week, the Pentagon released official figures on how dramatically the security situation has improved in Iraq.

Terrorist attacks, secular violence, roadside bombings, Iraqi civilian deaths and U.S. casualties are all down. The announcement received scant notice from the so-called mainstream media.

About the only news from the global war on radical Islamic terror to receive less attention this week was the erroneously headlined story on The Associated Press wire: «Army captain from Fort Lewis, WA, drowns in the Philippines.»

The item immediately captured my attention for two reasons: First, the struggle against Islamic terror in the Philippines is the topic of this week’s episode of «War Stories» on FOX News Channel (Saturday at 9 p.m. EDT/6 p.m. PDT). Second, but of greater import, while shooting this documentary, we lived in the field with U.S. and Filipino special operations troops working to eliminate the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah — terrorist groups closely affiliated with al-Qaida. As I read the article, I selfishly hoped that the soldier who had perished so far from home was not one of those we had come to know so well.It turns out that 27-year-old Staff Sgt. Joseph F. Curreri of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, was not one of the brave Americans we lived alongside in the fetid jungle. According to a U.S. Army news release, he was on his first deployment and drowned in a training accident not far from where we were embedded with members of Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines.The terse announcement, typical of those when special operations personnel are killed in the line of duty, noted that Curreri joined the Army in 2004 and that he «grew up in suburban Baltimore and swam and played water polo in high school before attending University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He was a four-year letterman on the USC swim team and captain of the team in his senior year.»Now in case you or any of the Democratic candidates, who discussed UFOs in this week’s nationally televised debate, missed it, here are the salient parts of this story: Staff Sgt. Joseph F. Curreri is now a deceased American hero. He was smart; he had to be to get into USC.He was a gifted athlete — the captain of his college swim team. With our nation already at war, he volunteered to serve in the Special Forces. And when he died, he was serving our country in the southern Philippines helping their fight against radical Islam.Unfortunately, given the unwillingness of the mainstream media to print or broadcast anything positive about the men and women in our armed forces, most of us never hear or read about bright, brave young Americans such as Curreri. Nor will those who count on the major networks and newspapers for information be able to grasp how we are going to win a global war against the Islamic radicals who are dying to kill us.That’s why FOX News Channel sent our «War Stories» team to the southern Philippines — so that we could chronicle a dramatic but little-known success story. Even critics of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan agree that the campaign in the southern Philippine archipelago could well become the model for how to win the war against Islamic terror.Everyone we talked to, from Washington to Manila, recognizes there are enormous differences between what we have documented for «War Stories» in 10 trips to Southwest Asia and what we saw happening in the Sulu Archipelago.Most visibly, there are nearly 170,000 American troops in Iraq and nearly 25,000 in Afghanistan. Though the actual number is classified, there are fewer than 1,000 U.S. Special Forces soldiers, Navy SEALs, Marines and airmen in Col. Dave Maxwell’s Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines.And equally important, President Gloria Arroyo of the Philippines serves as the head of state for the kind of established, functioning democracy that people in Iraq and Afghanistan can only hope for.This week, millions of Filipinos turned out to vote in municipal elections, despite threats by Islamic militants to disrupt the balloting.When I asked President Arroyo about political controversy over the U.S. military mission, she emphasized the long-standing relationship between the American and Filipino people: «We have been together through the second world war. We’ve been together through the war in Korea, through the war in Vietnam, and now we’re together in the war against terrorism.»

That’s the same kind of response we got from every Filipino officer and enlisted soldier, sailor, airman and Marine with whom we talked. And all of that is thanks to bright, brave Americans such as Staff Sgt. Joseph F. Curreri of the U.S. Special Forces. I’m sorry that he couldn’t be here to see the episode starring his comrades in arms, who showed us the future of the «war on terror.» (Oliver North)

 

Nov 02 2007

Inside the Ring: The Washington Times

Pacific terrorism

U.S. special operations forces in the Pacific have made significant progress in the past year battling the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in the Philippines.»Abu Sayyaf … has been mitigated very successfully by the government of the Philippines and their security forces,» said a senior officer of the Special Operations Command-Pacific, known as SOC-PAC, which is supporting operations against the Islamist group.»In the past year, several of their key leaders have been killed.»The officer said during a background briefing in Honolulu, where the SOC-PAC has its headquarters, that the remaining Abu Sayyaf members are divided and fighting among themselves over who will replace leaders who have been killed.Additionally, electronic «chatter» picked up from the group about plans for attacks against Filipino and U.S. targets revealed that «it’s just that, chatter,» the officer said, noting that in the past such chatter has led to actual attacks.»So their ability to turn chatter into action has been substantially mitigated in the past year,» the officer said.The officer would not say that the group has been defeated, but another sign of its growing weakness as an Islamist terrorist force is that many members of Abu Sayyaf are turning themselves in to Philippines authorities.»This is a great success for the Philippine government,» he said, noting that many were disarmed, debriefed and reintegrated back into society. Some received cash rewards for giving up their Abu Sayyaf membership.The success against Abu Sayyaf is an indirect result of U.S. special forces troops — Army, Air Force and Navy commandos — who helped train and assist Filipino security forces. A key element of the assistance has been the provision of military equipment and intelligence.A second major U.S. special operations effort in the Pacific is support to the Indonesian government in battling another al Qaeda-linked group, Jemaah Islamiyah, that operates throughout Southeast Asia.Jemaah Islamiyah «is a little tougher target because Indonesia, unlike Philippines, is a Muslim country,» the officer said.»In Indonesia the difficulty is that the government is playing hardball against this group but at the same time is catering to the ideological bent of the society,» the officer said, noting that a lot of «empathy» for the group exists in Indonesia, making countering it more difficult.Pacific Command-based special operations commandos currently are working with local forces in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Pakistani commandos

Recently retired Pakistani Gen. Ehsan ul-Haq, the former No. 3 officer in the military, said Pakistan has increased both the numbers and quality of its commando forces in the war against Islamic extremists.The Pakistan military’s Special Services Group numbers more than 10,000 troops and is on the front line in fighting terrorists operating throughout the country, especially in remote border areas.»These are very, very professional forces, elite and highly trained,» Gen. Ehsan said during a meeting with reporters and editors of The Washington Times.The general said the commandos are experts at what the British once called «frontier warfare.»The commandos were supported by training and equipment provided by the U.S., he said.

Al Qaeda in Iraq

The commander of international forces in Iraq said yesterday that significant progress has been made against al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq.»It’s clear that they no longer have significant sanctuaries and logistics capabilities to support numerous simultaneous attacks against large portions of the population,» Army Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno told reporters via televideo conference.Gen. Odierno said the group still has some capability to conduct deadly and «vicious» attacks against civilians in parts of Iraq.But he noted that «the top levels of the leadership have been taken, either killed or captured.»»Some of them have been replaced, but those who replace them are not as good as those who were there before,» Gen. Odierno said. «And we continue to see a slow degradation in al Qaeda’s capability here in Iraq.»He said U.S., allied and Iraqi offensive security operations contributed to the success.»But the real change has been that the populace rejects al Qaeda,» Gen. Odierno said. «They no longer have the passive support of the community.They’ve been rejected by their actions, and the people do not want to support them. In fact, what we find for the most part is that people will do anything to keep them out of their area, and they want to work closely with us to ensure that remains.»

New Afghan tactics

Insurgents and terrorists in Afghanistan are entering the country without weapons and are being armed for attacks once inside the country, a U.S. Army commander in Afghanistan said this week.Brig. Gen. Rodney Anderson, deputy commanding general of the Combined Joint Task Force-82, told reporters by teleconference Wednesday that insurgents infiltrate Afghanistan without weapons and «then conduct their attacks or link up with their equipment once inside the country.»Afghan border police have detected and detained some of these infiltrators, he said.Suicide bombing attacks in Afghanistan have been carried out by a combination of foreign fighters as well as some Afghans, Gen. Anderson said.

CIA interrogations

CIA Director Michael V. Hayden revealed this week, in defending agency interrogations of terrorists, that more than 70 percent of the intelligence used in a recent national estimate came from questioning captured terrorists.»The last six years have shown us that the best sources of information on terrorists and their plans are the terrorists themselves,» Mr. Hayden said in a speech Tuesday in Chicago.Calling the intelligence «simply irreplaceable,» he also noted that the elicited information «is the sole reason we have rendition, detention and interrogation programs.»Fewer than 100 of the most hardened captured terrorists have been put through interrogation since 2002.»Of those, less than a third have required any special methods of questioning,» Mr. Hayden said.The CIA director said the National Intelligence Estimate confirmed that the danger of another major al Qaeda attack against the U.S. is real. Al Qaeda aims «to execute a spectacular attack that would cause mass casualties, massive destruction and economic harm,» he said.Mr. Hayden noted that the estimate was less certain about one key element of al Qaeda plans: the presence of group operatives inside the U.S.

The CIA director’s comments are a tacit admission that the agency continues to have a difficult time planting spies inside or close to al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. (Bill Gertz)

Nov 01 2007

RP Troops Kill Sayyaf Leader

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 01, 2007) – Government soldiers clashed with Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Filipino province of Basilan, killing a sub-leader and wounding several others, officials said on Thursday.

Officials said the fighting erupted in the hinterland village of Kapayawan near Isabela City after troops stormed an Abu Sayyaf hideout late Wednesday.

There were no reports of military casualties and officials said troops were still tracking down other militants who escaped the fighting. The body of the slain militant, believed that of Ayong Ikung, had been recovered by soldiers, including several weapons and explosives.

“The killing of the Abu Sayyaf shows the government is winning the war on terror and we will continue our operation against the Abu Sayyaf and other lawless groups,” Major Eugene Batara, a regional army spokesman, told the Mindanao Examiner.

Little was known about Ikung or whether he was involved in previous attacks on soldiers in Basilan, just several nautical miles south of Zamboanga City, also targeted in the past by Abu Sayyaf militants whose group is tied to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya.

Washington listed the Abu Sayyaf and the two other groups as foreign terrorist organizations and has offered tens of millions in dollars in rewards for the capture of its known leaders.

President Gloria Arroyo also set aside more than one hundred million pesos in bounties for the capture of Abu Sayyaf leaders dead or alive. The US is helping Manila defeat terrorism and sent soldiers to train Filipino troops in anti-terrorism warfare. (Mindanao Examiner)

Oct 20 2007

Jemaah-Sayyaf Ally Owns Up Deadly Philippine Bombing

MAKATI CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 20, 2007) – a Filipino militant group allied with the Indonesian terrorist Jemaah Islamiya and the Abu Sayyaf has claimed responsibility Saturday for the deadly bombing of a shopping center in the Philippine financial district of Makati City.

Police and the Red Cross said at least 9 people were killed and 129 others wounded in the blast at the Glorieta Mall on Friday.

A man, Sheik Omar, who claimed to be a spokesman for the Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM) contacted the television network ABS-CBN to say that his group was behind the attack.

In a cell phone text message to ABS-CBN, the man also relayed their demand for the release of their leader Hilario del Rosario III, also known as Ahmed Islam Santos.

Del Rosario, captured in October 2006 at a hideout in Zamboanga city in southern Philippines, was the head of the RSM, a group of Christians who converted to Islam and with suspected links to the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya.

Police said it is investigating whether the RSM was behind the blast. “We are still investigating this claim, but the RSM has no more capability to carry such attack,” said Geary Barias, the chief of the metropolitan police force.

Del Rosario was also implicated in the February 2004 bombing of a Super Ferry ship that killed 116 people. It was the second worst terrorist attack in Asia. The group was also implicated in plots to attack the US embassy and American nationals. (Mindanao Examiner)

Oct 17 2007

Philippines Foils New Terror Attack

COTABATO CITY , Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 17, 2007) – Philippine security forces have disarmed Wednesday three powerful homemade bombs planted near a public square in downtown Tacurong City in Mindanao, south of Manila, officials said.

The bombs were inside a backpack left at a clothes shop when discovered by the store owner, said Lt. Col. Julieto Ando, a spokesman for the Army’s 6 th Infantry Division.

«We have disarmed three 60mm mortar bombs fitted with an alarm clock. The vigilance of civilians has prevented what could have been a deadly attack by terrorists,» Ando told the Mindanao Examiner.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the foiled bombing, but previous attacks in the area had been largely blamed to the Indonesian terror group Jemaah Islamiya and its local affiliate the Abu Sayyaf which is tied to al-Qaeda.

Ando appealed to citizens to stay vigilant in the wake of new reports that terrorists may be plotting new attacks in Mindanao in southern Philippines.

Israel has banned its citizens from traveling to Mindanao because of extreme terror threats.

The foiled bombing coincided with the announcement of the Philippine military that new contingent of US soldiers are arriving anytime soon in Mindanao to replace those who were ending their tour of duty in the troubled, but mineral-rich region.

Both the Jemaah Islamiya and the Abu Sayyaf are included in the terror lists of the United States and Washington has offered up to $10 million reward for the capture of Indonesian bomb-maker Dulmatin and his companion Umar Patek, who are said to be hiding in Mindanao.

Dulmatin, the Philippine military said, was almost captured in May in the remote southern province of Tawi-Tawi, but troops did not recognize him.

However, four of his children were captured by the soldiers and later deported to Indonesia. (Mindanao Examiner)

Oct 15 2007

Filipino Terror Suspect Nabbed In South

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 15, 2007) – Philippine police arrested an Abu Sayyaf militant implicated in the 2000 kidnapping of Asian and European holiday-makers in Malaysia’s island resort of Sipadan, police said on Monday.

Police said the Manguna Mali was arrested inside a cockpit arena in the town of Bonggao in the remote Tawi-Tawi province near Sabah. It did not say if Mali was armed or not when captured or whether he was on a mission or just hiding in Tawi-Tawi.

Mali did not resist arrest when policemen cornered him on Sunday in Tubig-boh village. He is being interrogated at a police headquarters in Zamboanga City on his alleged participation in the cross-border raid where his group snatched 21 people.

The hostages were brought to the southern Philippines by boat and had been freed several months later after Libya reportedly paid $14 million for the safe release of the victims.

Philippine authorities linked the Abu Sayyaf to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya terror network. The group has been implicated in the spate of bombings and kidnappings in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)

Oct 05 2007

Twin Blasts Kill 2 In Southern Philippines

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 05, 2007) – Two bomb attacks late Friday have killed two people and wounded more than two dozen others in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said the blasts occurred in the busy business district of Kidapawan City in North Cotabato province at around 7 p.m.

Two improvised explosives, one of them attached to a parked mini-van, detonated one after the other along Quezon Boulevard, said Major Julieto Ando, a regional army spokesman.

“Two people are killed in the blasts,” Ando told the Mindanao Examiner.

Among the dead was a ten-year old girl, Annie Mae Lozada.

No groups claimed responsibility for the twin attacks, but previous bombings in the area had been blamed by Filipino authorities to the Indonesian terror group Jemaah Islamiya and their local counterpart, the Abu Sayyaf.

Maj. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the bombs exploded in front of the Sugni department store and another establishment called Survived Marketing.

“At least 32 people are also wounded,” Ferrer said in a separate interview, adding, the number of injured was increasing.

He did not who was behind the bombings or whether it was connected to the Jemaah Islamiya or the Abu Sayyaf. Ferrer has said that security forces were tracking down Jemaah Islamiya militants in central Mindanao, including Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.

Last month, two homemade bombs exploded inside two commuter buses in Marbel town and in Cotabato City.

Australia last month warned of terror attacks in the southern Philippines and banned its citizens from traveling to Mindanao.

Aside from Zulkifli bin Hir, authorities said two Jemaah Islamiya bomb-makers, Dulmatin and Umar Patek, both tagged by Jakarta as behind the 2002 Bali bombings, are also hiding in the southern region and so are about three dozen other accomplices. (Mindanao Examiner)

Oct 03 2007

Troops Comb Southern RP Island For Sayyaf Terrorists



Filipino soldiers and family members at a naval base in Zamboanga City pay their last respect Wednesday, Oct. 03, 2007 on four navy commandos who were killed in a fierce firefight with al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militants on Langhil Island off Basilan province in southern Philippines. Ten militants were also killed and two soldiers wounded in Tuesday fighting. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 03, 2007) – Philippine troops on Wednesday combed the southern island of Basilan, searching for Abu Sayyaf militants whose group was blamed for the killing of six soldiers.

The Abu Sayyaf, which has links to both the Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya terror groups, killed four navy seals Tuesday on an island called Langhil near Basilan province, where militants also shot dead four army soldiers and wounded more than a dozen last week.

“We are searching for the Abu Sayyaf. This operation will go on until they are neutralized,” Marine Maj. Gen. Nelson Allaga, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, told the Mindanao Examiner.

Soldiers and family members also trooped Wednesday to a small Catholic chapel inside a naval base in Zamboanga City and paid their last respect to the two slain members of the navy seal. Two others wounded in the fighting remain at a military hospital here.

Admiral Petronilo Magno, commander of the Philippine Fleet on Wednesday arrived here and met with families of those who died. He also spoke to soldiers and visited the wounded.

“This is a sad day, but the fight on terror must not stop. We have a mission to eliminate the Abu Sayyaf and restore peace in the region,” he said in a separate interview.

Magno and Allaga later met with senior military commanders headed by Navy Admiral Emil Marayag, but details of the closed door conference were not made public.

The fighting on Tuesday erupted just a day after US Ambassador Kristie Kenney inspected infrastructure projects funded by the United States Agency for International Development in Basilan island, where a small group of American troops are deployed to help local military defeat the Abu Sayyaf. (Mindanao Examiner)

Oct 02 2007

14 Killed In Fresh Sayyaf Clashes In South RP

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao / Oct. 02, 2007) – Filipino troops clashed Tuesday with Abu Sayyaf militants, leaving 14 people dead, near Basilan island in the southern Philippines, a military spokesman said.Commandos raided a small island called Langhil before dawn and killed ten militants, but four soldiers were also slain in the fighting that lasted 35 minutes. “Ten Abu Sayyaf terrorists are killed in the fighting today. Four of soldiers are also dead,” Army Maj. Eugene Batara told the Mindanao Examiner.He said two more soldiers were wounded in the clash. He said troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf militants under brothers Abdurajak and Faizal Sadikal. It was unknown whether the duo escaped or among the dead.“We still don’t know whether the two leaders are killed or wounded or have escaped. The operation is going and security forces are tracking down the terrorists,” he said.The two wounded soldiers were airlifted to a military hospital in Zamboanga City.The fighting broke out a day after US Ambassador Kristie Kenney inspected infrastructure projects funded by the United States Agency for International Development in Basilan island.Last month, the US deployed a small team of soldiers on the island to help the Filipino military fight terrorism after Abu Sayyaf militants killed and wounded dozens of local soldiers in separate attacks over the past months.Basilan island was a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf until Filipino troops, backed by US forces, drove them away in 2001. Since then, dozens of Abu Sayyaf militants had been killed and wounded and their supporters arrested in a massive crackdown against terrorism.But the Abu Sayyaf slowly returned over the years after the government failed to address increasing poverty on the island and the military’s failure to carry out a continued campaign against the group.

Local politicians, many of them always out of their office, also failed to help authorities in the campaign to defeat the Abu Sayyaf, blamed for the spate of killings and kidnappings in the southern region. (Mindanao Examiner)

Sep 17 2007

Abu Sayyaf Loses Foreign Funding

BASILAN ISLAND, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 18 Sept) – The Abu Sayyaf group has stopped receiving funding from abroad and its members are on the run as security forces continue hunting down militants in the troubled southern Philippine region.

Abu Kahlid, an Abu Sayyaf militant, in a clandestine interview with Al-Jazeera television in Basilan island, said his group has lost capability in launching large scale attacks similar to the firebombing of a ferry off Manila Bay in February 2004 that killed over 100 people.

Khalid is a cousin of a senior Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, who is wanted both by the Philippines and the United States for the killings of two American citizens kidnapped in 2001.

Al-Jazeera reported Monday that Khalid admitted the Abu Sayyaf now has no more capabilities to launch large scale attacks.

He also said the Abu Sayyaf stopped receiving funding from abroad and that training its fighters have move to other region.

It was unclear who was funding the Abu Sayyaf, but Filipino and U.S. authorities have linked the group to Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda and Indonesian Jemaah Islamiya terror network.

The Abu Sayyaf last month published excerpts of a recruitment film on YouTube where the video is spoken in Arabic and was appealing for funding to Middle Eastern donors so it can carry out jihad in the Philippines.

It was taken out by YouTube after Philippine military officials said the video was promoting terrorism.

During the interview, Khalid, his face covered to hide his identity, warned that: “We will spare no one, whether they are Christians or Muslims.”

However, he said his conscience has bothered him and asked for forgives to those victimized by the Abu Sayyaf atrocities. “My conscience did bother me that why I laid low for a while. I feel bad for those who were victimized so I ask forgiveness for what I have done.”

“I have a family now and swear to God if I die and go to hell; there is nothing more I can do. I am so tired and I don’t want to go hiding anymore, I don’t want to be tired anymore,” he said.

Khalid was with another Abu Sayyaf militant, Abu Karim, said to be involved in attack on government soldiers in Basilan’s Al-Barka town in July 10. Ten Marines were beheaded in that fighting.

“It’s not always an order from Hapilon,” Khalid said, adding, younger men are coming in and acting on their own, like Abu Karim, 25, who rebelled against his parents to prove that he is a man.

Like Khalid, the young militant’s face was also covered.

Al-Jazeera reported that Karim joined the Abu Sayyaf along with young recruits in Basilan island, but wanted to leave the group because of the intense government operation.

“Abu Karim, who also joined the Abu Sayyaf and is said to be among those who decapitated ten Marines in Basilan island’s Al-Barka town, now wanted out of the group,” Al-Jazeera said in its English report now also in the popular video website YouTube.

The Al-Jazeera report ended with this: “For many of the island’s younger generation, it is the Abu Sayyaf not the military that remains the symbol of bravery regardless of leadership in a culture where guns equal power and Abu Sayyaf young recruits are waiting for their next mission to prove themselves, for them that is their only cause it could just be a matter of time before these recruits return.”

The Philippine military on Tuesday said the hunt for the Abu Sayyaf continues in Basilan island. “The operation is going on. Security forces are hunting down the Abu Sayyaf and their supporters,” Army Maj. Eugene Batara, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, told the Mindanao Examiner.

“We are also tracking down Abu Khalid and Abu Karim and we will arrest those who are coddling the two terrorists,” he said.

The Abu Sayyaf is in the U.S. list of international terrorist organizations and Washington offered as much as five million dollars bounties for the capture of Isnilon and other known terror leaders.

Many of the Abu Sayyaf senior leaders, including its chieftain Khadaffy Janjalani have been killed the past years and the group is now in disarray. But despite the government offensive the Abu Sayyaf group remains a top security concern for Manila and Washington.

Just last month, a suspected Abu Sayyaf bombing in Zamboanga City injured at least 16 people.

The Abu Sayyaf is believed to be coddling two of Indonesia’s most wanted terrorists, Jemaah Islamiya militants Dulmatin and Umar Patek in southern Philippines. Jakarta tagged both men as behind the 2002 Bali resort bombings which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians. (Mindanao Examiner)

Sep 15 2007

Indon JI Militant, Hawak Ng Militar Sa Zamboanga City

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 16 Sept) – Hawak ng Western Mindanao Command ngayon ang isang Indonesian Jemaah Islamiya militant na umano’y kasamahan ni Bali bomber Dulmatin.

Ito ang kinumpirma sa Mindanao Examiner ni Maj. Gen. Nelson Allaga, hepe ng Western Mindanao Command, at sinabi nito na kasalukuyang iniimbestigahan ang dayuhan na kasama sa anim na umano’y Abu Sayyaf na nadakip sa lalawigan ng Palawan nitong buwan lamang.

“Iniimbestigahan pa naming ito at may operation kasi eh kaya hindi kami puwedeng magbigay ng anumang impormasyon ukol sa nahuli,” wika nito.

Ngunit sa kabila ng mahigpit na pagbibigay nito ng impormasyon ay kinumpirma naman ni Allaga na may koneksyon kay Dulmatin ang nadakip na dayuhan.

Alarmado naman ngayon ang mga taga-Palawan dahil sa sunod-sunod na huli doon ng mga terorista. Matindi ang operasyon ng militar sa Midnanao at Sulu at maraming mga Abu Sayyaf ang nagsisitakas at hinihinalang nagtatago ang mga ito sa Palawan, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi at Zamboanga.

Nitong buwan lamang ay 3 hinihinalang Abu Sayyaf na siyang nasa likod ng pagpapasabog sa Zamboanga City nuong Aug. 21 ang nahuli at isa pa ang nadakip sa General Santos City.

Si Dulmatin, na isa rin Indonesian, ay kasama sa mga Jemaah Islamiya militants na nagpasabog ng mga bomba sa Baili island resort nuong 2002 na ikinamatay ng 202 katao, kabilang ang 88 Australians.

Bukod kay Dulmatin ay nasa Mindanao rin ang kasamahan nitong sina Umar Patek at Zulkfli bin Hir, na pinuno naman ng Kumpulan Malaysia, isang radical na grupo na kaalyado ng Jemaah Islamiya. (Mindanao Examiner)

Sep 15 2007

Case of LTTE’s Arms Smugglers–In–Chief: Curiouser & Curiouser — Lanka Guardian

Has a similar thing happened in the case of KP? Have the Americans whisked him out of Thailand without his being formally arrested in order to question him on the LTTE’s links with Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda jihadi organisations such as the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) of Pakistan and Abu Sayyaf of the Philippines?

In its official web site, the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry announced on September 11,2007, that the Thai authorities arrested at Bangkok on September 10,2007, the LTTE’s chief arms procurer, Shanmugan Kumaran Tharmalingam, also known as Kumaran Pathmanathan or «KP».However, Mr.Piyira Khempon, a spokesman of the Thai Foreign Ministry ,was quoted as saying that the Government was not aware of any such arrest. Dismissing the report, Thai police spokesman Lt General Narong Yangyern was quoted as saying that a thorough check showed that the last time Thai police arrested any LTTE member was in 2003 and he was extradited on August 15, 2007 to Sri Lanka. In a report datelined Colombo, the «Asia Tribune», an online newspaper, claimed that KP had obtained Thai citizenship and was married to a Thai woman.The denial by the Thai Police of the » arrest» of K.P. did not mean that they had not informally picked up a person with a Thai passport, believed to be identical with KP, for questioning. It is known that the police forces in South and South-East Asia generally avoid formally arresting a terrorist suspect before investigation is complete because a formal arrest means he has to be produced before a court within a certain period of time.The majority of Al Qaeda suspects informally picked up by the Pakistani intelligence and handed over to the US’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were never formally arrested and hence there are no records with the Pakistan Police regarding their arrest.The relatives of these persons have filed habeas corpus petitions before the Pakistan Supreme Court.The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has denied that they were «arrested» and any knowledge of their whereabouts. Some of them are alleged to be in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba.In September,2003, the Thai Police informally picked up Hambali, the then operational chief of Indonesia’s Jemmah Islamiyah, at Ayuthya and handed him over to the FBI, which flew him out to Diego Garcia for questioning. He was then reportedly shifted to Guantanamo Bay.The Thai Police have not so far officially admitted his arrest. The Americans did not confirm for a long time that he was in their custody. They did not allow the Indonesians to join in his interrogation. They did not hand him over to the Indonesian Police.

Has a similar thing happened in the case of KP? Have the Americans whisked him out of Thailand without his being formally arrested in order to question him on the LTTE’s links with Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda jihadi organisations such as the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) of Pakistan and Abu Sayyaf of the Philippines?

In the last two years, two operations of the LTTE to procure and smuggle arms and ammunition, including surface-to-air missiles, from the US have been neutralised by the FBI, which would be interested in questioning KP about them. KP is of interest not only to India and Sri Lanka, but also to the US.(B.Raman/the writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai)

Sep 14 2007

Indon Terror Suspect Arrested In Philippines

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 14 Sept) – Philippine authorities are holding an Indonesian terror suspect who was arrested in the province of Palawan, southwest of Manila, reports said on Friday.

Reports said the man was one of six Abu Sayyaf militants arrested since last week in a crackdown on suspected terrorists in the Philippines.

Authorities were investigating the man whom military interrogators believed is a member of the Indonesian terror group Jemaah Islamiya, blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

Reports said the man is being held by military authorities in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines. Military officials were not immediately available to confirm the reports.

Filipino security forces were tracking down Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya militants, including Dulmatin and Umar Patek and Zulkifli bin Hir, hiding in the southern region. (Mindanao Examiner)

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