Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Troops Rescue 15 Basilan Hostages; Priest, 3 Others Die; 2 Foreigners Dead in Jolo, Say Abu Sayyaf

May 4, 2000, Manila Bulletin, Troops rescue 15 Basilan hostages; priest, 3 others die; 2 foreigners dead in Jolo, say Abu Sayyaf, by Isabel C De Leon, Aris R. Ilagan,

Catholic priest Fr. Roel Gallardo was killed, along with three other hostages, in an encounter between their Abu Sayyaf Group captors and government troops that flushed the rebels out of a school building in Tumahubong, Basilan, Malacanang reported last night.

"This is a deplorable act," Press Secretary Ricardo Puno Jr. said during an emergency press briefing called at 9:15 p.m. at the Kalayaan Hall, adding that the identities of the three other fatalities were still unknown.

Puno said the confirmation that Fr. Gallardo's body had been found at the scene of the battle at Claret School in Tumahubong was received by Malacanang at 9:03 p.m.

He added that a total 15 of the 27 hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf had been freed and are now in the custody of government authorities.

Five of the 15 rescued were wounded in the crossfire and were identified as Robert Ahon, Christy Vergara, Jennifer Imo, Lydia Ahon, and Emelyn Catchuela. They are now being treated at local hospitals.

"Ten are still out there and we hope that they (Abu Sayyaf) will treat them fairly. These are innocent civilians," Puno said.

The 10 other freed hostages were Rodolfo Iran, Maria Christina Francisco, Reynaldo Rubio, Joan Bernardo, Rowena Mendoza, Kristen Diva, Charry Vergara, Criselda Selvana, Ricardo Gregorio, and Marasi Saute.

They are now in the custody of government authorities.

* * *

Officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced yesterday that they have rescued 15 of the 29 civilians in Lantawan, Basilan, who were held hostage by members of theAbu Sayyaf Group in the nearby Sumisip town, reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City said.

In a report to AFP chief of staff Gen. Angelo T. Reyes, Lt. Gen. Diomedio Villanueva, Southern Command (Southcom) chief based in Zamboanga City, said that as of 7:30 p.m., 15 hostages had been rescued by elements of the 1st Infantry Division led by Maj. Gen. Narciso Abaya in a remote barangay in Lantawan town at noon yesterday.

With the 15, however, were the bodies of four persons, believed to be among the hostages held captive in Sumisip, Basilan, by the Abu Sayyaf.

Villanueva assured that the military will contine combing the hinterlands of Lantawan town in search of the remianing hostages

Immediately after the rescue operations, supporting elements from the Philippine Army Special Operations Command (Socom) provided security to the 15 hostages on their way to Basilan Provincial Capitol.

Villanueva said that the 15 hostages, mostly women and children, were in good health condition when rescued by Army troopers.

Villanueva said military operations will continued against the Abu Sayyaf members led by Khaddafi Janjalani until the 15 other kidnap victims have been accounted for by authorities.

Southcom officials expressed belief that the 15 rescued victims were left behind by the escapingAbu Sayyaf members who have been subjected to large-scale military operations from their hideout at Camp Abdujarak in Sumisip, Basilan more than a week ago.

Operating elements from Philippine Marines and Philippine Army have overran Camp Abdujarak but failed to locate the 29 hostages.

Military authorities expressed belief that the terrorists escaped through the tunnels they constructed at Camp Abdujarak.

2 killed?

JOLO (AP) - Two foreign hostages died during a pre-dawn clash Wednesday between military troops and Muslim rebels who are holding 21 people, including 10 foreign tourists, on Jolo island in the southern Philippines, guerrilla leaders said.

Military officials said they had no knowledge of any hostage fatalities, and said the claim may have been propaganda by the extremist Abu Sayyaf rebels.

The clash apparently occurred when the hostages were being transferred to another location, officials said.

Troops seized the bamboo hut where the hostages had been held, but found no one inside. No bloodstains were evident inside the hut, and medicines brought by a doctor on Monday were left behind, police said.

Meanwhile, at least 15 of a separate group of 27 hostages who had been held by other AbuSayyaf rebels in neighboring Basilan province were rescued Wednesday, said Brig. Gen. Narciso Abaya of the military's Southern Command. Five of the hostages were injured, he said.

Military sources said some of the other hostages were killed by the fleeing guerrillas.

Soldiers spotted the rebels fording a stream just five kilometers (three miles) from downtown Isabela, Basilan's capital, officials said. The hostages, who included 22 children, were kidnapped March 20 from two schools.

The rebels offered earlier Wednesday to release all their captives if the military halts its pursuit of them.

Troops overran their mountain stronghold over the weekend but found no hostages.

On Jolo, fighting between soldiers and Abu Sayyaf rebels continued Wednesday after heavily armed guerrillas attempted to escape from an encirclement by the military. At least two soldiers were killed and six injured, officials said.

Commander Robot, an Abu Sayyaf leader, claimed in a telephone interview with the local ABS-CBN radio network that a white foreign man had been accidentally shot in the fighting and a white foreign woman had died of a heart attack.

He apologized to their families and said it was not the rebels' doing.

Another rebel leader, Abu Escobar, later repeated the claim in a call to another radio station and said the rebels would proceed with a previous threat to behead two foreign hostages if the military does not pull back from the rebels' hide-out.

Col. Ernesto de Guzman of the military's Southern Command said the troops would stay put.

"We will not move in and we will not move out," he said.

He said the overnight fighting was very far from where the hostages are believed held.

The 21 hostages were kidnapped April 23 from a Malaysian diving resort and brought to a bamboo hut in the hills of Talipao on Jolo, about one hour away by boat.

The hostages have pleaded to the government to halt military operations in the area.

In announcing their threat Tuesday to behead two of the foreign tourists, Escobar said the troops had moved so close to the rebel hide-out that the kidnappers could see them.

Nur Misuari, the government's hostage negotiator, said the rebels have refused to begin formal talks unless the troops are moved from the area. He also urged a halt to the military operations.

"I want only peaceful means because I believe this is more effective in getting them released safely than military means," said Misuari, a former Muslim rebel leader.

Misuari said he had conflicting reports that the two hostages were dead or merely injured.

Several foreign countries have offered to help negotiate, but the Philippine government said Wednesday it could take care of it alone.

"We've asked them to please give us the opportunity to handle the problem," presidential Press Secretary Ricardo Puno said. If needed, he said, "we will get their advice and we will get whatever assistance they can give us. But the ball is in our court at this time."

The Abu Sayyaf is the smaller of two groups fighting for a separate Islamic state in the Philippines' impoverished Mindanao region, home of the country's Muslim minority.

The other group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, claimed responsibility for a number of bomb explosions in the southern Philippines Wednesday that killed at least four and injured dozens.

The Jolo hostages include tourists from Germany, France, South Africa, Finland and Lebanon as well as resort workers from the Philippines and Malaysia.

Several have written letters to their embassies asking them to pressure the Philippine government to speed up negotiations and remove the troops to prevent further clashes and let the kidnappers obtain food.

Several journalists who accompanied a doctor to the simple bamboo hut Monday were able to interview the hostages, who complained of food shortages, fevers and infections. The doctor later reported that most of the hostages appeared exhausted and dehydrated. She said she told the rebels that two captives need to be hospitalized, but the rebels did not immediately agree.


President Estrada yesterday authorized Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to get the children who have been held as hostages by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and to deliver them back to their families.

The President gave the go signal to Macapagal Arroyo following the ASG's disclosure of their plan to release the 22 minor hostages to the vice president.

Hours later, however, President Estrada withdrew his approval for Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to fly to Jolo, Sulu.

Press Secretary Ricardo Puno Jr., also presidential spokesman, said President Estrada told the vice president not to proceed to Basilan or Sulu at this time when government troops are engaged in battle with the rebels.

"The President clarified that the vice president's mission is not to negotiate but to receive the hostages who will be released by their captors," Secretary Puno said.

Earlier yesterday, the Vice President was contacted by Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Sabaya through a local radio station of Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) to tell her about the hardlinerebel group's intention to "release" to the vice president several children hostages they are holding in the nearby island province of Basilan.

Vice President Macapagal Arroyo, who is concurrent secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), said she immediately contacted President Estrada and asked for his consent, which the President gave, so that she could fly to Sulu to receive the hostages.

In initially granting clearance, according to Macapagal Arroyo, the Chief Executive had expressed his concern over the safety of the vice president, knowing that the security situation in Mindanao has somewhat deteriorated with a series of bombings killing at least three people in General Santos City yesterday.

"There is definitely a personal risk involved here, but I am going to Mindanao as part of my sworn duty to serve the public," said Mrs. Macapagal Arroyo in a press conference at noon yesterday, before the President withdrew his approval of the trip.

In a related development, Press Secretary Ricardo Puno Jr. reassured the international community yesterday that the Philippine government is working to ensure the safe release of some 20 foreign hostages and a Filipino who were kidnaped by the Abu Sayyaf rebel groupin Sabah, Malaysia and later taken to Sulu.

Puno said the government is closely coordinating with governments representing the foreign hostages in providing them with information about the latest series of actions being taken to ensure their safe release.

"We've asked them to please give us the opportunity to handle the problem. We will get their advice and we will get whatever assistance they can give us. But the ball is in our court," Puno said.

NINOY AQUINO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT - Former President Fidel V. Ramos yesterday advocated the involvement of key groups and individuals in dealing with the Abu Sayyaf for the release of both the local and foreign hostages rather than using military solutions.

Ramos made the comment yesterday before boarding a plane for Bangkok where he is guest speaker at the 33rd annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank.

The former president disclosed that during his time as commander-in-chief, he

issued shoot-to-kill order against the Abu Sayyaf who the government treats as mere bandits.

He revealed that the shoot-to-kill order came out in April 1995 after the rebels aided and burned down the town of Ipil, in Zamboanga del Norte.

"I gave the shoot-to-kill order immediately after the Ipil incident before they could take any hostages as they retreated to Zamboanga del Sur," Ramos said.

However, he added that he hesitates to recommend the same solution now or to render judgement on what the present military leaders are doing in the south to deal with the latest atrocities being committed by the rebels.

Ramos however maintains that the solution to the problem in Mindanao is not a military approach but a combined approach that employs expertise, talent, goodwill, compassion and generosity in the community.

"I am not saying that what works for us during our time will work now," Ramos said.

He added that the situation at present in Mindanao is different from what is happening today and must be dealt with in a slight different manner.

"If it is the Abu Sayyaf, you better have preponderance for protective forces. But if it is the MILF, there is a better chance of dealing with them as they are more open to negotiations," Mr. Ramos said. (Anjo Perez)

Spare civilians

Lawmakers yesterday called on protagonists in the Mindanao conflict to spare innocent civilians from the on-going war.

Led by House Speaker Manuel Villar, House members said civilians have become helpless victims as both warring forces intensified their attacks after the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) decided to break a ceasefire agreement with the government.

"Pity those who have nothing to do this war who may get hurt in the cross-fire," Villar said.

He described as "cowards" combatants who use civilians as shield in winning the war.

52 dead as MNLF men attack Army outposts in Sulu, by A. R. Ilagan, F. Wakefield & N. E. Lacson,

November 20, 2001, Manila Bulletin, 52 dead as MNLF men attack Army outposts in Sulu, by A. R. Ilagan, F. Wakefield & N. E. Lacson, Tuesday,

At least 52 people were killed and more than 50 others wounded as followers of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari attacked Army outposts in Jolo, Sulu, officials said.

President Arroyo immediately ordered the military to employ the "full force" of its resources against armed followers of Misuari, presidential spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao said.

Arroyo, who is on a week-long working visit to the United States, sees "no need" to cut short her trip, Tiglao said.

But she ordered the defense department and the armed forces to "use the full force of the military against whatever group this is, which launched the attack," Tiglao told Manila reporters by telephone from Washington.

Asked what action the government was planning against Misuari, Tiglao said: "We have to verify the information, first, if he really led the attacks, and secondly, get information from him."

However, Misuari could not be located, he added.

The shelling of the army's 104th Infantry Brigade headquarters near the airport in Jolo began early Monday and continued sporadically until around noon. The fighting subsided by midafternoon, said Lt. Gen. Roy Cimatu, chief of the military's Southern Command.

"It's a deliberate plan to show to the government that the MNLF still has teeth," said military spokesman Brig. Gen. Adilberto Adan.

Cimatu said four soldiers were killed and 27 others, including an army colonel, were wounded. Members of a faction of the MNLF suffered 48 dead and 13 wounded after a military counter-attack, including air strikes on guerrilla positions and their stronghold in nearby Parang town, he said.

Suod Tan, mayor of Jolo, said more than 10 civilians also were injured in the crossfire and hundreds of people fled their homes near areas occupied by MNLF fighters trying to close in on the army camp.

Residents fleeing the scene said they saw MNLF guerrillas occupying a school about 50 meters from the camp perimeter and firing mortars and M-79 grenade launchers. Cimatu denied rumors of mass defection by former MNLF guerrillas who have been integrated into the military, saying only one officer facing charges of misconduct rejoined his former comrades.

Cimatu said about 200 guerrillas involved in the attack belong to a faction of the MNLF headed by Misuari, governor of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) who has opposed a scheduled election next Monday.

The resumption of hostilities between the government and the faction of the MNLF loyal to Misuari has triggered a division among Moslem lawmakers.

Representatives Benasing Macarambon Jr. (NPA, Lanao del Sur), Hussin Amin (LDP, Sulu), and Didagen Dilangalen (Independent, Maguindanao) asked the Arroyo government to keep off the intramural among MNLF leaders.

Macarambon and Amin are also calling for the cancellation of the ARMM polls.

However, fellow Moslem Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo, chairman of the House Committee on Muslim Affairs, said Misuari's alleged tantrums should not stop government from holding the ARMM polls.

Dimaporo also expressed confidence on the military's capability to restore peace and order in Mindanao.

The MNLF has been factionalized since early this year after several senior leaders ousted Misuari as MNLF chairman. Misuari claims the election violates the peace agreement he signed with Manila in 1996.

MNLF spokesman Abdulrahman Jamasali said the Organization of Islamic Conference, the global association of Moslem states, has called on the Philippine government not to hold any election or plebiscite to give time for implementing the peace accord.

The peace accord formally ended more than 30 years of the minority Moslems struggle for self-rule that killed more than 120,000 people. However, sporadic clashes have continued between troops and the MNLF.

The government is holding separate talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which broke away from the MNLF in the 1980s.

5 outposts

Elements of the Philippine Army y repulsed yesterday a large number of heavily armed Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels who initiated simultaneous attacks on five Army detachments in Jolo and its neighboring towns in Sulu which resulted to the killing of 48 MNLF guerrillas and three soldiers, reports reaching Fort Bonifacio in Makati City said.

Lt. Gen. Roy Cimatu, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Command (Southcom) based in Zamboanga City, said in his report to Lt. Gen. Jaime de los Santos, Philippine Army chief, said that 27 soldiers were also wounded in the attack.

According to Cimatu, the heavily armed MNLF rebels identified with former MNLF chairman Nur Misuari stormed the Headquarters of the 104th Infantry Brigade insitio Busbus, Jolo, at about 8 a.m.

Initial reports identified the first batch of wounded soldiers in the attacks as Lt. Dominador Macalintal, Technical Sgt. Isidro Ilustico, and Staff Sgt. Armando Calibubo.

The 104th Infantry Brigade was under the command of Col. Romeo Tolentino, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1974, when the attack was staged by the rebels.

Almost simultaneously, another band of armed MNLF rebels bombarded the headquarters of the Second Scout Ranger Battalion located in the neighboring town of Talipao.

The Scout Rangers led by Lt. Col. Arnulfo Marcos, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1983, took their defensive position and prevented the MLF rebels from occupying their headquarters.

Cimatu also said that a camp located at Sitio Tanjung also in Jolo being manned by former MNLF rebels who have been integrated to the AFP was also attacked by the rebels.

The MLNF integrees proved their loyalty to the government by fighting their former comrades, Cimatu added.

Two other Army camps were subjected to attacks and harassed by MNLF forces as Philippine Army troopers engaged them in fierce firefight .

The Southcom has deployed several helicopter gunships and OV-10 Bronco Fighters to conduct bombing raids on several MNLF positions.

The Southcom also sent additional troops from Zamboanga peninsula to Sulu Island to neutralize the MNLF's forces.

"We have anticipated this. We have prepared for their attacks," Lt. Col. Jose Mabanta, Philippine Army spokesman, said in an interview at Fort Bonifacio.

Mabanta said that they also monitored a re-grouping of heavily armed MNLF fighters in Sitio Kabatangan in Zamboanga City which prompted them to double their security measures to prevent another attack from the rebel group.

Elements of Task Force Zambaonga led by Col. Alexander Yano have positioned themselves in strategic areas to prevent the MNLF to strike anew on government targets in Zamboanga City and its adjacent areas. (ARI)

Indanan raid

ZAMBOANGA CITY - Southcom Command spokesman Col. Danilo Servando said yesterday former MNLF rebels loyal to former MNLF chairman Nur Misuari attacked the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion based in Indanan, Sulu.

Southcom said government troops recovered 23 bodies of rebels, including three bodies of soldiers at the encounter site.

Colonel Servando clarified that the rebels only took control of Ajid detachment in barangay Silangkan, Indanan.

Report said the rebels is now controlling the entire town of Indanan after they were able to capture the military in barangay Silangkan.

The detachment is being manned by a 21-man Army soldiers. He said there was no firefight between the soldiers and the rebels.

"Our soldiers had just abandoned the detachment. There were no firefight between government troops and the rebels identified with Misuari," Servando said.

Commercial establishments in Jolo, Sulu, were closed the whole day yesterday.

Several residents fled the town.

Classes in all levels were cancelled while public utility transport slowed down their trip outside the town yesterday. (NEL)

The resumption of hostilities between government forces and a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front allied with Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Gov. Nur Misuari has triggered division among Muslim lawmakers who usually are solid over issues affecting the South.

Reps. Benasing Macarambon Jr. (NPC, Lanao del Sur), Hussin Amin (LDP, Sulu), and Didagen Dilangalen (Independent, Maguindanao) asked the Arroyo government to keep off the intramurals among MNLF leaders.

Macarambon and Amin are also calling for the cancellation of the ARMM polls that would be held next week.

However, fellow Muslim Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo, chairman of the House committee on Muslim affairs, said Misuari's "tantrums" should not stop government from holding the polls. He stressed that posponing the elections has nothing to do with the internal problems of the MNLF.

"He (Misuari) is merely showing that he wants to hold on to power. If he really is a man of peace, he should exert all effors to find peaceful ways to get what he wants instead of declaring war against the government he served," Dimaporo of Lanao del Norte said.

Dimaporo expressed confidence in the military's capability to restore peace and order in Mindanao, particularly in ARMM territories.

Misuari has reportedly declared that the MNLF would resume its war against the government whom he accused of interfering in internal squabbles in his organization in a bid to dismantle his leadership.

Macarambon blamed both military and political advisers of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for attempting to "marginalize" Misuari without realizing that the MNLF chieftain remains a strong force to reckon with in the organization.

Despite his call for the immediate postponement of ARMM elections, Macarambon believes such move cannot placate Misuari's "wounded pride."

The Lanao del Sur solon said that canceling the elections could give way to a ceasefire and thus, force peace negotiations in Mindanao.

Meanwhile, Amin withdrew his candidacy for ARMM governor to serve the "greater interest of the people" of the ARMM.

"I withdraw my candidacy because I believe that it is for the greater interest of the people of the ARMM that in this election, the governor will be elected by the majority of the electorate, which may not possible with the present number of candidates for the position," Amin said. (Ben R. Rosario)

Lost respect

Administration Sen. Ramon B. Magsaysay Jr., chairman of the Senate national defense and security committee, said yesterday Nur Misuari, ousted chairman of the secessionist Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), has lost the respect and dignity that he has maintained as head of two government agencies.

Opposition Sen. Rodolfo G. Biazon, committee vice chairman, said the Misuari problem should be dealt with immediately with the government declaring the former University of the Philippines (UP) professor as a terrorist.

Although the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is responding adequately to Misuari rebellion, Biazon said the problem needs a political solution by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Misuari, ousted as MNLF chief by an executive committee of the MNLF itself, had been successful in delaying three times in a three-year period scheduled elections to widen the political boundaries of the ARMM and election of new set of ARMM officials. He had claimed that the ARMM election on Nov. 26 violates the terms of the Tripoli (Libya) agreement forged during the Marcos regime.

"It is a great setback to our country, particularly the Filipino Muslim population. But it is more of a setback to the person himself (Misuari) owing to the trust bestowed him by former President Ramos," Magsaysay said.

ARMM polls

ZAMBOANGA CITY - The military has beefed up its forces in Zamboanga City and in provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) after outgoing chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front Nur Misuari threatened to disrupt the forthcoming ARMM elections.

Reports received by the Army's 104th Bridgade based in Busbus, Jolo, disclosed that Misuari has held a series of meetings with leaders of the Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf asking for full support to carry out terror acts during the elections.

Sulu Gov. Yusop Jikiri, who is a former chief of staff of the MNLF sacked by Misuari, has said that he is going to defend Sulu with thousands of his MNLF followers.

Col. Romeo Tolentino, commander of the 104th Brigade, said his command has maximized deployment of troops in all areas of Sulu, especially in the capital town of Jolo, anticipating moves from the group of Misuari.

In his report to the Southern Command, Tolentino said intelligence operatives have confirmed reports that Nur Misuari had held meetings with Abu Sayyaf leaders like Ghalib Andang alias "Commander Robot," Mujib Susukan, and Murphy Imbang in Mt. Pianan, Silangkan, Sulu.

Tolentino said the last meeting was conducted by Misuari last Nov. 8 where the latter allegedly discussed his plans to disrupt the Nov. 26 ARMM polls.

Three months ago, Misuari organized the so-called "Mutalla Forces," a group of new recruits, after the main MNLF group threw their support to the newly organized Committee of 15.

Two weeks ago, Misuari met with the remaining MNLF leaders who are loyal to him during a congress at Silankan, Parang, Sulu where a 15-point resolution was passed calling for the full implementation of the provision of the 1996 peace agreement. (Vic P. Arevalo)

From MNLF to Abu Sayyaf

From MNLF to Abu Sayyaf

The Radicalization of Islam in the Philippines

Christos Iacovou
Research Associate
Institute of Defense Analysis, Greece
Historical background 

Just as Islam spread from the Middle East to Inner Asia and from Afghanistan to India, so it spread from various parts of India to the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian archipelago in the late thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries. Islam was introduced into maritime Southeast Asia and flourished in conditions rather different from those of the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. While Islam was established in other regions by Arab or Turkish conquests, it was introduced into Southeastern Asia by traveling merchants and Sufis. Whereas in the Middle East and India, Muslim regimes were consolidated by new elites, in Southeastern Asia existing regimes were consolidated by conversion to Islam. The continuity of elites gave strong expression to the pre-Islamic components of Southeast Asian-Islamic civilization. In the regions of Indonesia and Malaysia an overwhelming majority of the population eventually accepted an Islamic identity while Muslims remained a minority in the Philippines.[1]

Muslims in the Philippines, also called Moros constitute 5% of the Philippines’ population,[2] and are concentrated in the southern part of the country. These Muslims are Sunnis who generally adhere to the Shafii School of Islamic law (madhhab). For centuries, the Muslims in the southern Philippines constituted independent sultanates.[3] Successfully avoiding Spanish conquest, they gradually fell under U.S. sovereignty. The U.S. made them become part of an independent Philippines in 1946, a move the Muslims viewed as a betrayal of a trust. Prior to independence, the vast majority did not consider themselves Filipinos and retained their identity as a separate people.[4]

This identity was essentially religious and cultural in nature. Most of the Muslim leaders had wished to separate from the rest of the Philippines to form an independent state. For decades, the Muslims had vainly resisted the encroachment of Christian settlers (under government assistance) on their traditional lands. Years of economic neglect and political discrimination had reduced them to the lowest national literacy and economic levels. Unemployment was endemic; law and order had deteriorated in some areas. That Filipino national leaders in Manila viewed Muslims and their lands in much the same way as Spanish and American colonial authorities had done before them was met with deep suspicion and fierce resentment. Significantly, government programs to integrate Muslims into body politic were paralleled by growth of Islamic revivalism.[5]

After the establishment of the Philippine Republic in 1946, some members of the Muslim political elite aligned themselves with the policies of the new state, including state sponsorship of large-scale Christian migration to the Muslim South.[6] The principal leaders of the nationalist separatist movement that began taking concrete form in the late 1960’s were young men from non-elite Muslim families who had attended universities in Manila on government scholarships expressly intended to integrate Muslims into the Philippine nation. In the Muslim South, those separatist leaders were eventually able to attract popular support because established Muslim leaders failed to effectively prevent the massive Christian migration.

When the separatist movement seemed likely to achieve some success, certain of the established elites, who had opposed the separatist rebellion and collaborated with the state in 1960’s, now joined the rebel leaders in overseas exile and attempted to gain control of the movement. At the same time the Philippine government followed the policy of integrating some of the prominent rebel commanders into the state bureaucracy. It simply offered them official positions allowing them to govern large numbers of Muslims on the condition of defecting from the separatist cause and activities. From their new positions, some of the defectors protected Muslim civilians from the attacks of the Philippine army. As a result they were viewed as heroes by many ordinary Muslims who remained nonetheless committed to the separatist struggle.[7]

Events in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s further alienated the Muslims and forced them to arm themselves. Examples include the massacre of Muslim trainees by the Philippine military in March 1968, communal clashes between Muslims and Christians (in which the constabulary and police often sided with the Christians), the gradual loss of Muslim communal lands to settlers. Added to this were the effects of the November 1971 elections, which led Christian politicians, with the help of Marcos and the ruling party, to capture many provincial and municipal offices in traditional Muslim areas, as well as the rise of well-armed Christian paramilitary forces. Beginning in 1969, scores of Muslim youth were trained abroad in the Malaysian State of Sabah in guerilla warfare. Their return has helped secure the defense of their communities.[8]

The Moro National Liberation Front 

When martial law was declared in September 1972 by the authoritarian regime of President Ferdinand Marcos, government attempts to disarm Muslims, who feared Christian armed groups as well as military retaliation provoked open rebellion. Foremost in this struggle was the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF),[9] whose founders were among those Muslim youth trained abroad.

A central committee whose original members crossed regional and linguistic lines guided the MNLF. Its chairman, Nur Misuary, was a faculty member at the University of Philippines. Even before his training abroad, Misuary had argued that only through a free and independent state could the Muslims free themselves from corrupt leaders and fully implement Islamic institutions. To him, the Moros constituted a separate people—the Bangsamoro people. Misuary’s concept had a nationalistic connotation such that non-Muslims who cast their lot with Muslims were also to be called “Moros” and therefore as members of the future Bangsamoro Republic. Ever since the nationalist movement took concrete form it has been a movement directed toward self-determination and independence, defined as a prerequisite for the unhindered implementation and enhancement of Islamic institutions among the Muslim in the Philippines.

The war in the southern Philippines resulted in the death of thousands of soldiers and civilians and the flight of several hundred thousand refugees. Charges of genocide gained for the Moros the sympathy and concern of the international Muslim community. Libya provided sanctuary for some of the top MNLF leaders and did not deny that it had provided various forms of aid.[10] The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and other Muslim international organizations continually exerted pressure on the Philippine government to negotiate for a peaceful settlement with the leaders of the Muslim armed struggle, particularly the MNLF.[11]

The Tripoli Agreement 

In December 1976, with the aid of Libyan intervention, and under the auspices of the OIC, Philippine government officials and MNLF leaders were able to negotiate a settlement in Tripoli, Libya. Called the Tripoli Agreement, the settlement called the cease-fire and the granting of autonomy to thirteen provinces where the majority of Muslims lived.[12] Marcos then set out in early 1977 to provide a form of autonomy in accordance with his government’s own definition. Meanwhile, the Bangsa Moro Liberation Organization (BMLO) was formally organized by two traditional leaders living as expatriates in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: Rashid Lucman, a former congressman and sultan among his people in Lanao Province, and Salipada Pendatum, an ex-congressman and member of the Maguindanao nobility of Cotabato Province. They proclaimed the BMLO to be the leader of the Muslim struggle in the Philippines.[13]

Rashid Lucman felt that he should have full control of the MNLF because of his claimed traditional prerogatives. This was not possible as long as Nur Misuary, who belonged to another ethno-linguistic group and a different social class, was chairman. Consequently, the BMLO conspired with Salamat Hashim, vice-chairman of the MNLF Central Committee, to claim or seize leadership of the MNLF on the grounds that Misuary had leftist leanings and had abandoned the collegial character of the committee. Salamat Hashim was a nephew of Salipada Pendatum and related to the Maguindanao nobility; he had received extensive religious training at al-Azhar University, in Egypt.

In December 1977, Salamat issued a declaration of takeover and informed the OIC accordingly. But Misuary with the aid of his loyal followers held fast to his position and expelled Salamat Hashim. In response, Salamat asserted his independence and transferred his base of operations to Cairo. Because the BMLO had failed to control the MNLF, by 1978 there were three groups claiming to head the Muslim movement in the Philippines: the MNLF-Misuary faction, the MNLF-Salamat faction (later renamed MILF – Moro Islamic Liberation Front)[14], and the BMLO.[15]

The influence of Iran 

When Iran’s revolutionary government took power in 1979, both leaders of the MNLF-Misuary faction and the BMLO praised the revolution as a reassertion of Islamic principles.[16] The MNLF-Salamat faction avoided any statement since it was under the Egyptian influence. Rashid Lucman, as well as Nur Misuary visited Teheran in 1979. The case of the MNLF-Misuary faction attracted much attention. After the Misuary’s visit, the Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the Iranian Revolution prayed openly for the success of the Muslim revolutionary struggle in the Philippines. He assured Misuary that “the victory of the Islamic Revolution of Iran would not be complete until the oppressed Bangsamoro Muslims in the southern Philippines won their victory.”

The Iran visit was a serious morale booster for Misuary and his aides, particularly after what they had had to endure from BMLO intrigues, Salamat Hashim’s breakaway, and the surrender of several top MNLF commanders to the Philippine government. One can speculate that officials of Iran’s new regime might have been wary about dealing with the BMLO, whose leadership represented dynastic and vested interests in traditional Moro society.[17] Misuary and his delegation members, who were relatively young men, must have appeared as sincere and dedicated. At any rate, compared with the other factions, Misuary commanded the largest fighting group. This relationship eventually resulted in an Iranian oil embargo against the Philippines (about 4.16% of the annual oil import) in November 1979 in response to the continuing massacre of the Muslims by the Marcos regime and the refusal of the Philippine government to implement the Tripoli Agreement of 1976.[18]

The Iranian oil embargo represented a victory for the MNLF. It was the first international Muslim intervention in Philippines domestic politics. This provided the MNLF with greater confidence and led Misuary to revert to his original demand, as set forth in the Tripoli Agreement, for secession instead of autonomy. Meanwhile, the BMLO continued its agitation for full implementation of the Tripoli Agreement. Marcos denied all accusations by announcing to the world that the Agreement was in fact being implemented. Failing to convince the OIC, he countered with the argument that since there were three organizations claiming leadership of the Muslims, he did not know with whom to negotiate, in spite of the fact the OIC had recognized the MNLF with Misuary as its chairman.[19]

In November 1980, the MNLF office in Teheran was given official recognition by the Iranian government. A reception hosted by the director of the office to mark the occasion was attended by representatives of at least six embassies of Muslim countries affiliated with Iran. It was around this time that Iranian officials tried to bring about a reconciliation between Salamat Hashim and Nur Misuary. The former was invited to Teheran, but considering the strained relations between Iran and Egypt, Salamat’s host country, he found it prudent not to accept.[20]

Separatism after the cease-fire 

Following the cease-fire agreement in 1976 the separatist struggle in the Philippines Muslim South gradually transformed itself into a popular-based, mostly unarmed movement. This was accompanied by an ideological shift away from traditionalism and toward Islamic renewal. That cultural project, however, received a mixed reception from ordinary Muslims, who resisted many of the social and ritual modifications promoted by movement leaders.

When strong antagonisms between the Philippine State and Muslim nationalists erupted into armed rebellion in the late 1960’s, rebels rallied to the separatist cause, and the nationalist movement eventually received broad popular support. Muslim subordinates nevertheless evaluated the pronouncements of movement leaders based on their separate shared experience. Those evaluations were made independently of authorized discourse and led at times to actions that not only deviated from the official aims of the separatist movement but effectively thwarted them. Ordinary Muslims were equally skeptical of the hegemonic project of the State and its Muslim collaborators, measuring the ideological pronouncements against their own life experience.[21]

The peace agreement, which called for the establishment of a “Muslim Autonomous Region” in the southern Philippines, was never genuinely implemented by the Marcos administration. As a consequence, fighting broke out once more before the end of 1977, but did not again approach the level of intensity experienced prior to the cease-fire. The Muslim separatist movement entered a period of disarray marked by factional infighting and a weakening of popular support. By the early 1980s it had refashioned itself in the South into a mass-based and self-declared Islamic movement guided by Islamic clerics. With the fall of the Marcos regime in 1985, movement leaders (with the now-modified aim of genuine political autonomy for Philippine Muslims) fully adopted the practices of popular politics. They organized mass demonstrations to petition the government for political autonomy and formed an Islamic political party to contest provincial elections. In most of those endeavors they received substantial support from ordinary Muslims.[22]

The emergence of Abu Sayyaf 

In 1991, a radical group, which disagreed with the peace process between the Muslims and the State, left the MNLF and formed the Abu Sayyaf Group (Bearer of the Sword). Its main purpose is to establish an Islamic state, based on the Islamic law (Shariah) in the southern Philippines. The emergence of Abu Sayyaf is indicative of an important shift within the Muslim Nationalist movement of the Philippines. It represents a process towards the Islamization of the Moro identity and the formalization of the already existing Islamic trend within the MNLF. The nationalist essence of the MNLF was incorporated into the Abu Sayyaf’s protracted struggle for Islamization of the Moro community, entailing operational transformation of the movement.

The founder of Abu Sayyaf was Abduragak Abubakar Janjalani, who led the group until December 1998, when was killed by the police in the Lamitan village in Basilan Island.[23] Janjalani was a veteran of the Afghan war and during his participation in the war he developed close ties with other Islamic radical groups. He strongly opposed the peace process between the government of the Philippines and the MNLF, and demanded an independent Islamic state. After his death, his brother, Khaddafy Janjalani, emerged as the new leader.

Abu Sayyaf rejects the practice of the complementary non-violent mobilization (Dawa) since violent struggle (Jihad) corresponds to the group’s ideological strategy, while moderation of the struggle constitutes an inevitable acceptance of the MNLF’s “concessions” to the State. Since its inception, Abu Sayyaf has competed with the MNLF for the leadership of the Moros’ national struggle. During the 1970’s and 1980’s, the Moros nationalist main-stream political force did not take any measures against the Islamists’ increasing role in the arena of the armed struggle, acknowledging their contribution to the overall effort to drive the Philippines’ government to make political and territorial concessions. During those years, therefore, the Islamists faced only pressures imposed by the state authorities to their course of action.

Abu Sayyaf at a crossroads 

Now however, both the state and the mainstream MNLF operate to limit the scope of Abu Sayyaf’s growing influence. Under the changing atmosphere and circumstances in the Southern Philippines through the peace process, Abu Sayyaf’s sensational terrorist activities may consolidate the basis for the continuation of Jihad, and turn the movement into an alternative political force to the mainstream MNLF. The resort to violence, through the conduct of the armed struggle against the State may entail Abu Sayyaf’s increasing political influence among the Moros. Such a development would pose a serious threat for the Muslim nationalist movement, since criticism and opposition threaten to weaken it from within if the peace process fails once again to meet the expectations of the Muslim community of the Philippines.

Alternately, should Abu Sayyaf choose to conduct a non-violent struggle against the State, the group could find itself on a track of decline since such developments could be perceived as a diversion from the Islamic aim of its struggle. Therefore, the group’s options are clear-cut.

Abu Sayyaf’s Islamic ideology has guided the articulation of radical objectives and strategy. The group’s choices of action have primarily reflected the search for policy shifts among those radical Muslims who perceive the ongoing peace process as a threat. Furthermore, the choice of sensational terrorist actions, like bombings and kidnappings of foreigners placed Abu Sayyaf’s struggle on the international agenda. Against the backdrop of the evolving—albeit problematic and shaky—peace process between the MNLF and the government, threading this fine line is a challenge to Abu Sayyaf’s survival.


1 Ira M. Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies (Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 467-470.
2 Out of total population of about 57 million, at least 5 million Philippinos are Muslims. Ten ethnoliguistic groups are identified as Muslim, the largest of these being the Maguindanao, the Marano, the Tansung, the Samal, and the Yakan. By comparison, 85 percent of the total population is Catholic.
3 Cesar A. Majul, The Contemporary Muslim Movement in the Philippines (Berkeley: Mizan Press, 1985) p. 33.
4 ibid. pp. 132-141.
5 ibid, pp. 150-155.
6 Thomas M. McKenna, Muslim Rulers and Rebels: Everyday Politics and Armed Separatism in the Southern Philippines (University of California Press, 1998), p. 6.
7 ibid, pp. 138-170.
8 Cesar A. Majul, op. cit. pp. 149-160.
9 For background information on the armed rebellion and emergence of the MNLF, see T.J.S. George, Revolt in Mindanao: The Rise of Islam in Philippine Politics (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1980); Peter G. Growing, op. cit.; and Cesar A. Majul, op. cit.
10 Cesar A. Majul, op.cit. p. 172.
11 ibid, p. 122.
12 Moro National Liberation Front: MNLF Newsbriefs (Diplomatic Circulations, Office of the Director, Tripoli, Libya), no. 2, May 6, 1983.
13 See The Supreme Council of the Bangsa Moro Liberation Organization (BMLO), “The Bangsa Moro Struggle” (Paper submitted to the Tenth Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, Fez, Morocco, 8 May 1979) pp. 15-17.
14. For more information on MILF see “MILF Leader to Nida’ul Islam”, (, April – May 1998)
15 Cesar A. Majul, op. cit. p. 180; also Husain Haqqani, “Factionalism Stalks the Moro Camp”, Arabia: The Islamic World Review, June 1983: pp. 37-38.
16 Nur Misuary, “The Bangsamoro Right to Self-Determination” (Address given at the International Conference on the Prophet Muhammad and His Message sponsored by the Organization of the Islamic Conference and organized by the Islamic Council of Europe, London, 11-15 April 1980, Pamphlet); also The Supreme Council of the Bangsa Moro Liberation Organization (BMLO), op.cit.
17 Cesar A. Majul, “The Iranian Revolution and the Muslims in the Philippines”, in John L. Esposito (ed.), The Iranian Revolution: Its Global Impact (Florida International University Press: 1990), pp. 262-263.
18 During that period of time, the Philippines received 75 percent of its oil from the Middle East, principally Saudi Arabia. Although the Saudis did not follow the Iranian example, they did cancel some contracts granting additional oil in response to Marcos’ obstructionism to fully implement the Tripoli Agreement. Saudis tried to exert pressure on Marcos in order to negotiate with Misuary.
19 Cesar A. Majul, “The Iranian Revolution and the Muslims in the Philippines” op. cit. p. 265
20 ibid, p. 266.
21 Thomas M. McKenna, op.cit. pp. 197-234.
22 ibid, pp. 234-269.
23 Reuters, December 19, 1998.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Treasonous Handling of the Abu Sayyaf


[Privilege speech of Sen. Aquilino Pimentel at the Senate, July 31, 2000]

Long before the tourists of Sipadan were kidnapped on April 23 of this year, the Abu Sayyaf had already been blazing a bloody trail of murders, abductions, rapes, mutilations, arsons, and other heinous crimes that is impossible to match in terms of callous cruelty by any armed band of hooligans locally or even internationally.

To respond to the problem posed by the Abu Sayyaf, it may be helpful if we recalled the circumstances of its creation.

CIA recruits

In the early 1980s, the CIA actively recruited, "armed and supported" moujahideens or volunteer Muslim warriors to fight the CIA sponsored-US proxy war in Afghanistan against the Russians who had invaded the country in 1979 and had put up a puppet regime there.1

Thousands of Muslim fighters from many parts of the world, including many young men from the Muslim-dominated areas in Mindanao, enlisted to fight in Afghanistan. After all, the dollar-denominated monthly pay plus incentives of $100 to $300 a month2  was certainly attractive enough for the jobless and impoverished Muslim youths.

These young warriors were, then, trained to – and many did - fight in Afghanistan supported with funds and equipment by the CIA and its network of friendly foreign funders which at that time included Osama bin Ladin, a highly successful Arab business man in the construction industry. Bin Ladin subsequently fell out of grace with the CIA which has since been trying to get him either literally or extradited to the US for his complicity in the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York in 1993.

Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, supposedly a colleague of bin Ladin, was directly implicated as one of the bombers of the World Trade Center. Ramzi becomes immediately relevant to our discussion not only because of his supposed connections with bin Laden but more so because soon after the kidnapping of the Sipadan tourists, the kidnappers who had proclaimed themselves as members of the Abu Sayyaf announced that one of their demands was the release of Ramzi from US prisons.

Training as Moujahideens

The training of the moujahideens for guerilla warfare was undertaken by the CIA with the active collaboration of secret, usually, intelligence, services of the armed forces or select military officers in various countries, including our own.

Now, when the Russians had pulled out of Afghanistan in 1989, the Moujahideens either returned to their home countries or proceeded to other countries and put their Afghan war military experience at the service of certain fundamentalist causes of Islam.

Birth of Abu Sayyaf

In the case of the Filipino Muslim Moujahideens, most came back to various parts of Mindanao from their base in Peshawar, Pakistan. 

In the words of John K. Cooley in his book, Unholy Wars, "This group (of Filipino Muslim Moujahideens) was the core of an armed guerilla band of several hundred men who xxx moved from its Peshawar, Pakistan base to the southern Philippine Islands after the end of the Afghan war. Under the name of the Abu Sayyaf group, it operated on the fringe of the Moros Muslim insurgency." 

Thus was the Abu Sayyaf born.

The Abu Sayyaf took its name from Professor Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, an Afghan intellectual, who had preached an ultra-conservative Islamic ideology called Wahabi. 

Cooley calls the Abu Sayyaf in the 1990s as "the most violent and radical Islamist group in the Far East, using its CIA and ISI (Pakistan’s intra-military directorate for intelligence services) training to harass, attack and murder Christian priests, wealthy non-Muslim plantation-owners and merchants and local government in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao." [p. 63]

Military coddlers

Because the Abu Sayyaf was operating on the fringe of the Muslim insurgency in the country, its partisans were enticed by certain officers of the armed forces to serve as informers on the activities of the Muslim insurgents in Southern Mindanao.

Marites D. Vitug and Glenda M. Gloria name, at least, three military and police officers as coddlers or handlers of the Abu Sayyaf in their book, Under the Crescent Moon: Rebellion in Mindanao. One was the commanding general of the Marines at that time, Brig. Gen. Guillermo Ruiz; the other two were police officers, Chief Supt. Leandro Mendoza and Chief Supt. Rodolfo Mendoza. 

In the case of Ruiz’s involvement with the Abu Sayyaf, Vitug and Gloria theorize that "The Marines – led by then Brig. Gen. Guillermo Ruiz – apparently flirted with the Abu Sayyaf because they controlled the mountains and (he) wanted to keep his business." [page 218]

The business of Gen. Ruiz reportedly had to do with illegal logging which led the Catholic Church of Basilan led by Bishop Romeo de la Cruz to demand that the Marines be pulled out of the island. As Vitug and Gloria put it, "By 1994, the Marines were out of Basilan." This episode has tarnished the otherwise unblemished record of the Marines, who had been held in high esteem by the people in troubled areas where they had been assigned.

Perks from the intelligence services

My information is that the Abu Sayyaf partisans were given military intelligence services IDs, safe-houses, safe-conduct passes, firearms, cell phones and various sorts of financial support. 

Edwin Angeles, a leader of the Abu Sayaff in Basilan, told me after the elections of 1995, that it was the Abu Sayaff that was responsible for the raid and the razing down of the town of Ipil, Zamboanga del Sur in early 1995. In that raid, Angeles told me that the Abu Sayyaf raiders were reportedly provided with military vehicles, mortars and assorted firearms. All this time, Angeles was "handled" by police officer, now chief superintendent, Rodolfo Mendoza.

Angeles, if you will recall, was summarily executed, salvaged, if you will, by up to now unidentified persons in 1999. He was killed a month after the principal organizer of the Abu Sayyaf, Abdurajak Janjalani, was shot dead in a reported encounter with police officers.

But even as Abdurajak Janjalani and Edwin Angeles are dead, the Abu Sayyaf up to this very day continues to defy the law, spill blood and cause havoc in the country. In short, the Abu Sayyaf has become a horrifying menace to our people.

A CIA-Monster

For what the Abu Sayyaf has become, the CIA must merit our people’s condemnation. The CIA has sired a monster that has caused a lot problems for the country and is giving the country a horrible reputation in the international community.
The CIA, however, is a tool of American foreign policy. It will do what advances the cause of the US even at the expense of other countries like ours.

Inexcusable involvement

What looks inexcusable to me is the involvement of a few officers of the armed forces – handlers of the Abu Sayyaf, my informants call them - in the training of the Abu Sayyaf partisans, the very same group of hooligans who are responsible for the kidnapping of foreigners and locals alike and the atrocities they had committed for several years now.

The best that can be said of these officers is that they had been acting, like Col. Oliver North in the infamous Iran-Contra arms deal controversy in the US, outside the loop of the regular command. Their mission, most likely, was to get the Abu Sayyaf partisans as their sources of information on the movements of the Muslim insurgents and probably of their allies from other Muslim countries and as friendly pawns in the game of divide and rule as far as the Muslim insurgency is concerned.

To that end, these officers did not only "handle" the Abu Sayyaf, they cuddled them, trained them, protected them, passed on military equipment and funds from the CIA and its support network, and probably even from the intelligence funds of the armed forces to them.

It is also quite possible that these officers pursued their own self-interests when they dealt with the Abu Sayyaf.

Butch Fernandez of Today tells me that Gen. Alexander Aguirre was present at a meeting – perhaps organizational – of the Abu Sayyaf. Whatever the nature of Gen. Aguirre’s involvement with the Abu Sayyaf has to be explained. 

A retired military officer, brigadier general Ruiz, whom Vitug and Gloria had tagged in their book as responsible for the Marines’ flirtation with the Abu Sayyaf, figured recently in the rescue of an Abu Sayyaf hostage in Sulu. He had his picture prominently taken in the company of Sec. Robert Aventajado, chief negotiator of the government for the release of the Abu Sayyaf hostages. In all likelihood, Gen. Ruiz got involved in the Abu Sayyaf hostage release negotiations because he is supposedly trusted by Abu Sayyaf partisans having been a "coddler" of theirs in the not-too-distant past.

Gen. Ruiz should be called to account for his involvement with the Abu Sayyaf. So should Chief Supt. Leandro Mendoza and Chief Supt. Rodolfo Mendoza.

De Villa and Ramos, too

Naturally, the then chief of staff of the armed forces in the 1990s, Gen. Renato de Villa, should likewise tell the people what he knows of the involvement of the CIA and our own military officers in the creation, handling and supervision of the Abu Sayyaf.

It goes without saying that the commander-in-chief of the armed forces from 1992 to 1998, namely, former president Fidel V. Ramos should likewise tell the people what he knows of his administration’s involvement with the creation, handling, and supervision of the Abu Sayyaf.

In our search for the truth regarding the creation, training, funding, supervision and operation of the Abu Sayyaf, the best evidence would be the testimony of people who possess first hand information on these matters.

My witness, Edwin Angeles, is dead. There is or was a file of video-taped testimony of Angeles with ABS-CBN that should be made available to the Senate in connection with its investigation of the Abu Sayyaf.

Arlene de la Cruz, the lady journalist who had first brought Angeles’ exploits to light as an Abu Sayyaf officer told me recently that the file still exists in the vaults of the ABS-CBN.

It was she who had accompanied Angeles to see me in 1995 to explore my providing Angeles with legal assistance. Angeles’ predicament, then, was that he was reportedly being hunted down by the then Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Rafael Alunan.

Corroborative evidence

Ms. de la Cruz would be a good source of corroborative evidence on many aspects of the operations of the Abu Sayyaf.
A body-guard of Angeles is likewise still alive. Some weeks ago, he told me the names of some other officers of the armed forces who "handled" Abu Sayaff matters. He is, however, deathly afraid of coming out into the open.

Circumstantial evidence

If we are unable to ascertain the truth about the responsibility of the CIA and some of our own military officers in the creation, training and supervision of Abu Sayyaf activities from direct evidence of the persons in the know, materials abound that weave an incontrovertible tale of their involvement through circumstantial evidence.

Among the authors who have written about the Abu Sayyaf, to my knowledge, it is Cooley who makes the most direct statement regarding the training and funding of the Abu Sayyaf by the CIA.

Cooley supports his allegations not only with documents obtained from CIA and Russian sources but with interviews that he had conducted with persons in the know of the secret operations of the CIA in connection with the Afghan war.
Today we are faced with a difficult problem of trying to contain, if not eradicate, the curse of the Abu Sayyaf in parts of Southern Mindanao.

Unassailable evidence

The evidence is now overwhelming – unassailable in my mind - that the CIA was the procreator of the Abu Sayyaf and that some of our own military officers acted as midwives at its delivery and who have nursed the hooligans under illegal, if not, at least, questionable circumstances that enabled the latter to pursue their criminal activities to this very day. 

We probably cannot do anything about the CIA’s responsibility in the creation of the Abu Sayyaf and the funding, training and equipping of its members by the agency. That is a thing of the past.

But we can and ought to do something about the involvement of our military officers who were active participants or conduits of the CIA in the creation, funding, training and equipping of the Abu Sayyaf.

Preventing a treasonous recurrence

We have to find out what we can do as legislators to prevent a recurrence of the situation where certain military officers of our armed forces became willing tools of the CIA in the creation, funding, training and equipping of this bandit group that has brought so much harm to the national interest in the last several years and opprobrium to our name in the last several months.

The officers who have been identified as coddlers or handlers of the Abu Sayaff in various studies and documents must be called to account.

While the paternal bonds of the CIA with the Abu Sayyaf may already have been cut off, I am not too sure that the filial connections of the Abu Sayyaf with certain officers of our armed forces have already been severed.

Investigate treasonous acts

Thus, it behooves the senate to instruct its appropriate committees to dig deeply into the circumstances under which the Abu Sayyaf was created, the handling of its funds, and the training of its partisans.

It is only fitting that any Filipino who had a hand in the creation, training and equipping of the Abu Sayyaf should be held to account for high treason and other crimes.

I urge the senate to do what needs to be done to vindicate the national honor and the rights of the people who have been savaged and brutalized by the Abu Sayyaf.

  1. Chalmers Johnson, Blowback, p. 13 et seq
  2. John K. Cooley, Unholy Wars, p. 107

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Al Qaeda, Abu Sayyaf & The CIA's Terror Incubator in the Philippines, by Alex Constantine,

Al Qaeda, Abu Sayyaf & The CIA's Terror Incubator in the Philippines, by Alex Constantine,

Alex Constantine

An apartment is bombed in the Philippines, and a CIA agent's legs are blown off by the explosion. The bombing was an American covert operation. Yet the American press reported that Abu Sayyef, a division of Al Qaeda, set off the explosion. The story makes clear that the leaders of Abu Sayyef are provocateurs in league with American intelligence, the true culprits behind the bombing. The contradiction sheds light on Black Tuesday and the international "war on terrorism." - AC ------------

By Alex Constantine,

It's generally agreed that the same arm of Al Qaeda responsible for the 1993 WTC bombing returned on September 11, 2001 to finish the job. Therefore, it's a reasonable assumption that the first attempt to level the towers, and the subsequent paths of blind cleric Rahman's fellow conspirators, should provide some answers to questions left in the wake of 9/11 concerning its history and sponsorship.

Newspaper histories of al-Qaeda trace its roots to Saudi Arabia. Founder Osama Bin Laden pushed early funding through the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), as arranged in meetings between al Qaeda's inner-circle and the charity's directors. (The Saudi government funded terrorist attacks on Israel in secrecy throughout most of the 1990's via similar charities in Virginia and Florida.1) Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's lieutenant, was employed by the IIRO in Albania. The Philippine branch office was run by Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Osama's brother-in-law (1986-94), who made a lateral hand-off of cash to the Abu Sayyaf, an al Qaeda offshoot.2

The DoD, CIA and other opaque branches of government (and the Mafia), drawn by the lure of Japanese and German gold, maintained a particularly busy presence in the Philippines as the Marcos kleptocracy declined and fell. Khashoggi's Iran-contra ally, Oliver North, oversaw "back door" shipments of the recovered gold, much of it to Arab governments, some of it to Middle Eastern terrorists trading on the black market. North met with Osama Bin Laden's money men often to negotiate exchange of the gold.3

The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), like Al Qaeda, owed its existence to the intelligence establishment. The ASG was co-founded by Edwin Angeles, an undercover agent for the Defense Intelligence Group at the Department of National Defense, Republic of the Philippines. His Muslim handle was "Ibrahim Yakub" and as the organization's operations officer and chief recruiter, he was largely responsible for the spread -- and criminalization -- of the Abu Sayyaf.

Filipino television news reporter Arlyn de la Cruz, in her history of the ASG, writes that Angeles/Yokub "holds the key to the deep intricacies of how some government agencies manipulated the rawness of the Abu Sayyaf during its early years." This observation still applies, and can be said of al Qaeda, the CIA-bred Taliban mutation, as well.

It was Angeles "who actually introduced the idea of kidnapping as part of the fund-raising activities of the Abu Sayyaf," de la Cruz reports -- this would be the abduction of a wealthy woman in Davao. "Edwin planned the abduction and even initiated the plan himself." The victim was held not far from the Brigade Headquarters of the Philippine Marines in Tabuk. She was released after her family paid the million-pesos ransom to Abu Sayyaf.

The next to be kidnapped was Luis "Ton-Ton" Biel, a five year-old child, and his grandfather ... then Claretian priest Bernardo Blanco. Soon, the media were requesting interviews, and "Yokub" stepped before the cameras to act the role of lethal but well-spoken religious lunatic. Angeles was a "good speaker, a good actor. He spoke like a Leftist leader espousing Fundamentalist principles."
An accidental blast at the Evergreen Hotel in Davao in May 2004 was a clear statement that the "Al Qaeda" offshoot still functions as an intelligence front, a proxy army of the National Security Council that exists to justify intervention in the Philippines.

The explosion, publicized in the States as the work of the dread Abu Sayyaf, was set off by a store of dynamite traced to Michael Meiring, an African-born, naturalized, proverbially Ugly American citizen. Meiring claimed that Abu Sayyaf's mad dogs had lobbed a grenade into his hotel room, an alibi proven to be fabricated upon examination of the scene by local police. Meiring was so badly injured that both of his legs had to be amputated at the knees.

The dynamite, the Manila Times reported, also tore off his "mantle of obscurity," exposing the accident-prone American "and his numerous American and Filipino partners, to the public limelight." From the rubble at the Evergreen Hotel emerged the story of "a complex man, whose trail leads back to South Africa and boxes supposedly containing US Federal Reserve notes and bonds obtained from the Abu Sayyaf." The Times reported that employees of the hotel "claimed that while they were cleaning Meiring's room before the explosion, he warned them not to touch two metal boxes, which he said contained important documents. Police investigators said they recovered blasting caps and ammonium nitrate from the room, where Meiring had stayed since Dec. 14 2001."

Meiring refused to talk to Philippine police. Bloodied and burned by the explosion, he was whisked out of the country on a chartered plane, according Col. Lino Calingasan, a local immigration official, by agents of the FBI and NSC. "American David Hawthorn, a close friend of Meiring, claimed the blast victim had confessed passing to Mandela's government the proceeds of a box of old US federal notes." That box was one in a set of twelve, containing an estimated $500-million in counterfeit American notes.

Hawthorn had been shown a letter from the South African government and a US Treasury permit to support his claims. Hawthorn also saw a "packing list" that had "a cover sheet printed with the words "US ARMY," some numbers and a group of upper case letters.

"Meiring, he said, claimed the list represented the serial numbers of the missing notes, dating back to 1937. Similar "boxes" were recovered by United States Secret Service and the Philippine Central Bank late last year. Other counterfeit bonds and currency were also recovered from a hotel in Davao a few months ago. It has been reported that these were to be ... shipped to Las Vegas, Nevada."4

Philippine police discovered that Meiring, the NSC amputee, had run with neo-nazis and Islamic radicals alike, including the ASG and other radical fronts. His key contact in Nevada was financier James Rowe, an executive producer for Wild Rose Productions, an independent documentary production company in New Green Valley, near Vegas. Rowe, in turn, ran with white supremacists and tax rebels, also neo-nazis, in the United States and Germany. Another of Meiring'sn contacts back home was Chuck Ager, an ultracon mining engineer in Colorado. Another was Nina North (possibly an alias), a CIA operative who took over "back door" financial transactions in black market gold formerly conducted by the ubiquitous Oliver North. Another was Filipino-American Bob Gould, a tax protester from Hayward, California in league with Fred Obado, leader of the Kodar Kiram terrorist cell, son of Sultan Jumalul Kiram.

Meiring operated a shell company called PAROUSIA, a term used by right-wing Christian evangelicals, a reference to the second coming of Christ. But Meiers wasn't the only home-grown terrorist running loose in the Philippines: "Three Vietnamese terrorists arrested last year for plotting to blow up the Vietnamese Embassy here were assets of the US intelligence community," the Times reported.5

KAHANA Robert J. Freidman, a journalist for the Village Voice, wrote one of the most signally important articles of the last decade, "The CIA and the Sheikh."6 The feature was an inventory of critical leads, eroded over time, sadly, opportunities lost. If the killers allied with Rabbi Meir Kahana, the vitriolic leader of the Jewish Defense League, had been captured and sentenced, Freidman contends, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing -- and by extension, 9/11 -- would never have occurred.

On November 5, 1990, Freidman wrote, El Sayyid Nosair, a "pudgy, bearded 34-year-old Egyptian American and a core member of the El Salaam Mosque," casually strolled up to the podium of a conference room in the Manhattan's Halloran House, after Kahane wrapped up a one-hour speech. "Moments later, Kahane was shot once in the throat at point-blank range with a .357 magnum, and Nosair bolted outside. During a running gun battle down Lexington Avenue, Nosair was wounded by an off-duty postal inspector and finally captured by New York City police."

An FBI informant told Freidman that Nosair frequented the El Salaam Mosque in Jersey City. Nosair was close to Sheikh Abdel Rahman. "I told them that, four days before, I saw with my own eyes the Sheikh meeting with Nosair at a Lebanese restaurant on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. It was 7 p.m. There was Nosair, the Sheikh, a person escorting the Sheikh, and another person I don't know. They were deep in conversation."

After the arrest of Kahane's assailant, police found evidence that the murder "was just the first in a planned spree. Scrawled on a bank calendar in Nosair's home was a "hit list" that included the names of a U.S. representative, two federal judges, and a former assistant U.S. Attorney."

The secretive cell of extremists from the Mosque often met with Nosair to discuss means of destroying symbols of the Israeli-loving Babylon they despised, "the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty."

The World Trade Center.

"Many are wondering why there wasn't a comprehensive, wide-ranging investigation of Meir Kahane's murder," Friedman reported. "What investigators would have found if they had done their job thoroughly is that Sheikh Abdel Rahman and El Sayyid Nosair were at the heart of a far-flung terrorist conspiracy."7


1) John Loftus, "What Congress does not know about Enron and 9/11," May 31, 2002,

2) Dore Gold, "The Suicide Bombing Attacks in Saudi Arabia: A Preliminary Assessment," Jerusalem Issue Brief, Institute for Contemporary Affairs, Vol. 2, No. 28, May 13, 2003,

3) See Thompson and Kanigher. Also, Edith Regalado, "CIA whisks away Brit-Am blast victim; now in US," Philippine Star, July 9, 2002.

4) Anon., "Edwin Angeles: The spy who came in from the cold,",

5) See, for a summary of the Manila Times series written by Dorian Zumel-Sicat and Jeannette Andrade, May 29, 2002 through May 31, 2002. Also see, Manila Times' reports to June 19, 2002.

6) Robert J. Freidman, "The CIA and the Sheikh," Village Voice, March 30, 1993.

7) Ibid.

Also see...
Hayden - 9/11 ties hookergate
Cocaine - Gambling and the GOP
Richard Armitage - Valerie Plame
Micheal Jackson - Cedars cult - Mohamed Fayed - CIA - Raytheon
Iran Contra - 9-11
ADNAN KHASHOGGI - Moscow - 9-11