Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Always On Watch Blog

The following blog posting would have had more power as a polemic if the name in its title had been spelled correctly. "Guillermo Sobrero" does return 1,330 results on Google, but those represent some sort of alternate universe. The correct spelling of the Philippine beheading victim is "Guillermo Sobero", which returns a healthy 37,900 results on Google. (The third paragraph, quoting the Washington Post, incongruously gets the name spelled right.)

But the writer and all of his commentators are a savage example of the effort expended at the demonization of Islam, with "Islamofascism" being the sudden new scare ideology to replace Vietnam's and the Cold War's "red menace." The premise of Saddam the secularist from impoverished Iraq financially supporting the millionaire bandits publicized as the Abu Sayyaf is laughable.

May 2, 2006, Always On Watch Archives, Guillermo Sobrero And Abu Sayyaf,

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Tuesday, May 2, 2006

(All emphases by Always On Watch)

Do the names in the title of this blog article mean anything to you? Ring any bells?

The following brief item appeared in the Sunday, April 30, 2006, Washington Post:

"MANILA -- Military intelligence agents captured a second militant allegedly involved in the abduction of three Americans, including a missionary couple, from a resort five years ago. Abdasil Malangka Dima, an alleged member of Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim extremist group linked to al-Qaeda, was captured in Basilan province, the military said.

"Dima allegedly was involved in the abduction of Martin and Gracia Burnham, from Wichita, Kan., tourist Guillermo Sobero of Corona, Calif., and 17 Filipinos in 2001. Sobero was beheaded and Martin Burnham was killed during an army rescue mission."I didn't wake up until September 11, 2001, and did not recognize the names in the above news item, though I vaguely recalled the names Martin and Gracia Burnham.

A quick Internet search of the name "Guillermo Sobrero" yielded a June 12, 2001 report of his beheading. Excerpt from the June 12, 2001 article about the beheading of Sobrero:

“'Look for his head in Tuburan,' spokesman Abu Sabaya said.... "

"Sabaya told the radio station: 'As an independence day gift we released an amigo, Guillermo Sobrero, but he doesn't have a head now.'

"Today is the 103rd anniversary of the Philippines' declaration of independence from Spain.

"Sabaya said there would be no more negotiations.

"'There is no reason why we should not behead the others,' he said...."My Internet search also yielded the following 2003 blog article which contained an excerpt from Gracia Burnham's book In the Presence of My Enemies:

"'… I was watching a group of the remaining captors as they horsed around with each other, just having fun. Somebody pushed a pleasant young man named Jaafar, who was probably no more than eighteen. In a slightly mocking tone, he retorted “Oooh, oooh, don’t kill me! I want to see my sons!” … In the days ahead we heard that line repeated more than once; in fact it became kind of an "in" joke among the captors. We gradually admitted to ourselves the awful truth: Guillermo's decapitated body was lying back there somewhere on a hillside, marked only by his head raised up on a bamboo pole like a trophy.'" Consider the following excerpt from the March 27, 2006 Weekly Standard article "Saddam's Philippines Terror Connection: And other revelations from the Iraqi regime files":

"SADDAM HUSSEIN'S REGIME PROVIDED FINANCIAL support to Abu Sayyaf, the al Qaeda-linked jihadist group founded by Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law in the Philippines in the late 1990s, according to documents captured in postwar Iraq. An eight-page fax dated June 6, 2001, and sent from the Iraqi ambassador in Manila to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Baghdad, provides an update on Abu Sayyaf kidnappings and indicates that the Iraqi regime was providing the group with money to purchase weapons. The Iraqi regime suspended its support--temporarily, it seems--after high-profile kidnappings, including of Americans, focused international attention on the terrorist group...."Read it all. Note the apparent connection among Saddam Hussein, al-Qaeda, and Abu Sayyaf. Often, what we Westerners think of as different groups of Islamic terrorists have ties, usually financial. According to Dr. Walid Phares, one of the speakers I heard at the Pre-Symposium event on Friday, April 28, 2006, different Islamic terrorist-organizations are branches of the same tree.

More information about Abu Sayyaf can be found here, in this April 2005 report from the State Department. Excerpt:
"The ASG [Abu Sayyaf Group] engages in kidnappings for ransom, bombings,beheadings, assassinations, and extortion. The group’s stated goal is to promote an independent Islamic state in western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago (areas in the southern Philippines heavily populated by Muslims) but the ASG has primarily used terror for financial profit. Recent bombings may herald a return to a more radical, politicized agenda, at least among certain factions. The group’s first large-scale action was a raid on the town of Ipil in Mindanao in April 1995. In April of 2000, an ASG faction kidnapped 21 persons, including 10 Western tourists, from a resort in Malaysia. On May 27, 2001, the ASG kidnapped three US citizens and 17 Filipinos from a tourist resort in Palawan, Philippines. Several of the hostages, including US citizen Guillermo Sobero, were murdered. During a Philippine military hostage rescue operation on June 7, 2002, US hostage Gracia Burnham was rescued, but her husband Martin Burnham and Filipina Deborah Yap were killed. Philippine authorities say that the ASG had a role in the bombing near a Philippine military base in Zamboanga in October 2002 that killed a US serviceman. In February 2004, Khadaffy Janjalani's faction bombed SuperFerry 14 in Manila Bay, killing approximately 132, and in March, Philippine authorities arrested an ASG cell whose bombing targets included the US Embassy in Manila."

So, what got me curious about Guillermo Sobrero and Abu Sayyaf? The Washington Post's mention of a beheading, of course. Just how many beheadings don't make the front page of our newspapers so as not to promote Islamophobia? And how many more reports of Islamic terrorism are buried or not published at all?

posted by Always On Watch @5/02/2006 06:40:00 AM 112 comments links to this post 

112 Comments:At 5/02/2006 7:24 AM LASunsett said...

"SADDAM HUSSEIN'S REGIME PROVIDED FINANCIAL support to Abu Sayyaf, the al Qaeda-linked jihadist group founded by Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law in the Philippines in the late 1990s, according to documents captured in postwar Iraq.

What gets me is, the left will still say that there was no evidence that Saddam had any connection to 9-11 and that he was not a threat to the US. But as we continue to uncover information, we find out differently. Even still, the left refuses, not fails to, but refuses to see the evidence in any form of an objective light.

They do love darkness, don't they? At 5/02/2006 8:26 AM Let Non Arab - Muslims Live! said...

Anything that typifies Islamofascism is automatically sensored, it starts at the language, includes why Islamofacsists' genocide in Sudan is a mere "conflict" by mainstream media, or how they "insugen"-ized the terrorists in Iraq, then has "sectarian-ized" the fascists attacks between Sunni & Shiite Muslims there. At 5/02/2006 8:41 AM the merry widow said...

AoW- If you haven't read Gracia Burnham's book, do so. She is bluntly honest about her fears and doubts during this time. It is a hard read in places, I cried at parts. But well worth the time! May we prove as faithful if we go through tough times. Her testimony of how she handled sudden widowhood helped me, though mine I saw coming for 11 months and her's was sudden!

tmw At 5/02/2006 8:46 AM Mussolini said...

Lasunsett - Yes, they refuse. But it's not because they're stupid. It's not because they can't make the connection.

I guarantee you if Kerry was in office, they would see the connection. They're playing the partisan playbook andhave to be on the opposing side no matter the truth.

To them, AND to most conservatives, it's just part of the game. The truth is the football we fling back and forth is part of the play. The truth doesn't matter - its getting perception to either goal-line.

Even if you do get a principled democrat and republican to sit and objectively discuss the truth, the "yeah, buts" start flying.

We are creatures to the gamebook the two parties give us. We fight each other while they do what they want to enslave us. At 5/02/2006 9:04 AM nanc said...

gracia burnham is everything her first name implies - graceful. although i've not read her book have seen her in several interviews in the last couple of years. one tough cookie.

as for islam - not a tree aow - more like a poisonous weed that goes unchecked until it takes everything you have to eradicate it. i wonder if we have what it takes.

iran threatening our eternal home - AGAIN - this morning.

as you all know, my favorite t.v. pastor/teacher, zola levitt, died this previous month and i received the last news letter he was a part of before he left this world. it is a MUST read:


just go to levitt letter - it's pdf, but well worth the time. NOW IS THE TIME. At 5/02/2006 9:33 AM Always On Watch said...

TMW and Nanc,

I read some excerpts from that book quite a while back. I might have heard of it through Voice of the Martyrs. At 5/02/2006 9:34 AM Always On Watch said...


The tentacles are spread throughout the world. That is not to say that we shouldn't hold accountable the pc msm and the universities which spout the propaganda "religion of peace." We must also not let up on our elected representatives; the enemy is well organized with regard to the political game. At 5/02/2006 9:45 AM Always On Watch said...


If the doings of the Islamofascists were told in full, the alarm would be sounded.

"Conflict," "insurgents," "rebels" are all euphemisms designed to mask the truth.

Furthermore, as long as all Muslims read and literally believe the Koran, Islamofascism will proliferate. At 5/02/2006 9:55 AM Mr. Ducky said...

"According to this source, the documents had been examined by the U.S. intelligence community and judged "consistent with authentic documents"--the professionals' way of saying that these items cannot definitively be certified but seem to be the real thing."

So they are a little better than the Niger yellowcake forgeries.

Interesting that a reputable journal like Foreign Affairs didn't mention this nonsense.

Why would Hussein bother supporting a bunch of kidnap for hire thugs who couldn't make the 'A" team. Hussein apparently was a small time thinker unlike bin Laden. At 5/02/2006 10:01 AM Mr. Ducky said...

AOW, your readers may be interested in the lead from a responsible journal like Foreign Affairs when covering a topic.

"Conflict has plagued the southern islands of the Philippines since 1566, when Spanish forces, fresh from centuries of war against Muslims in their homeland, found their traditional enemies in their new colony. Muslim ferocity and Spanish torpor combined to leave Mindanao unconquered, but the reflexive Spanish hostility toward Muslims was passed on to Christian Filipinos, and Muslims responded in kind."

They do go on to mention Qadaffi in the 70's but Hussein is absent.

At any rate I would suggest familiarizing yourself with periodicals thhat can take a wider view than your current news sources. At 5/02/2006 10:34 AM nancsaid...

coming to a neighborhood near you, plucky - will you go softly into dhimmitude? will you renounce everything you believe and go quietly? what is it exactly you don't see regarding this threat called islam? there is no moderate islam - only those muslims like lazy christians who have not read their instruction manuals.

when they see with their own eyes what is required of them, only then do they move from the moderate stance to the radical stance - and that is so plain, so simple - CONVERT OR KILL! At 5/02/2006 10:36 AM Mr. Ducky said...


I'd take a look at recent releases from the grand jury and give them some weight rather than wasting time with loony conspiracy theories. At 5/02/2006 10:37 AM Always On Watch said...

I am aware of the long-standing conflict between Muslims and Filipinos. But what's going on there now, the battle with the "new Islamofascism," dates back to 1978 or so.

the reflexive Spanish hostility toward Muslims

Historical basis for that portion of your comment. Spain lived under the boot of the Moor from 711-1492. It is a myth that all the caliphs were tolerant and, in truth, the rules of dhimmitude prevailed.

BTW, I am a Spanish major and have read loads of medieval literature from Spain, in the original Spanish. And some of the methods of the Inquistion derived from the techniques used upon the Iberians when those Iberians would not submit to Islam.

Off to work now! At 5/02/2006 11:33 AM Mr. Ducky said...

Well nanc, maybe my rationale is something like this...there is a threat from Wahabist wackjobs.

In order to counter a threat you must think clearly and use the appropriate level of force.

This is a police and intelligence matter. Full scale military force (ineffective since World War II and a pox on all nations of the world) is not effective action. Failing to recognize the enemy and assuming it is all muslims is ineffective and wrong and allowing yourself to be led by the nose rather than giving this matter as level headed an analysis as you can is also foolish.

My own belief is that when evangelical Christians get involved they are acting from a postition of eschatology (i.e. nonsense) and a natural distaste for anything that claims to be a "truer" religion than thumper Protestantism.

I consider both parties to be threats . At 5/02/2006 11:49 AM beakerkin said...


Has it ever crossed your mind that this is about more then Israel ?

The goal of Islam like that of Communism is global hegemony. At 5/02/2006 12:16 PM Iran Watch said...

Can you believe that there are still people who don't believe that we are in a Global War against terrorism. Look around at all the hot spots (fighting/genocide/murdering) and in 90% of them, Islamic terrorist are at the core. At 5/02/2006 12:22 PM Iran Watch said...

Ducky..you don't like yellow cake?

I wouldn't call Saddam Hussein a small thinker, he had a country to suppress occupying a lot of his time. At 5/02/2006 12:32 PM Mr. Ducky said...

Beak, why did you bring up Israel? Why the fixation?

I have told you several times that I don't particularly care about israel. It's population is no more or less worthy of concern than the millions we are harming in iraq. At 5/02/2006 12:58 PM American Crusader said...

"The millions we are harming in Iraq"

Now there's an overstatement. Most of the civilian casualties are the result of indiscriminate attacks made by insurgents not from the occasional bombing of a wrong target.

Don't get carried away by last night's game. Sox fans never seem to understand that the division isn't decided in May. At 5/02/2006 1:15 PM the merry widow said...

Ah yes, Ducky attacks the "thumpers" again. As if there is an equivalency between mohammahdens and Christians. As there are several "thumpers" who hang out at this site, have any threatened you with beheading? Don't go back to the Inquisition now, we are discussing the present! When was the last time a Christian threatened to behead anyone? When is the last time Christians threatened or did burn down an embassy? Or threatened to roll some other nation into the sea? Hmmm? I can't hear you! When have the lives of cartoonists or artists been threatened with death? Well?


At 5/02/2006 1:16 PM Mussolini said...

For those that don't know, the "Foreign Affairs" journal that Ducky talks about can be found here.

"Foreign Affairs" is the official website of the Council on Foreign Relations. These are the guys that excused communism, have striven to kill nationalism in all forms, and pursue an "America is the welfare provider of the world" strategy.

They support open borders, LAUGH at the millions of job losses due to manufacturing moves to foreign countries as "a few weeks of job gains in other areas," deride France (France!) for retaining too much nationalism to assimilate into the EU, and positively CROW when Israel gives up territory and shows signs of weakness.

All of the greatest leaders of our country, both democrat and republican are members of this disgusting institution. This is why I keep saying there's no damned difference in the two parties. Both bastard parties laugh at us while they steer the country further and further from the liberties the founding fathers gave us.

I DO suggest reading the CFR site. It is illustrative of the total contempt that the politicians have for the American voter. At 5/02/2006 1:17 PM Mussolini said...

Ducky and his "thumpers" is just using the democratic playbook of blaming a core constituency of the opposing side.

Even he doesn't believe it. At 5/02/2006 1:29 PM Mussolini said...

In fact, I'm rather surprised Ducky is adhering to "Foreign Affairs" so well. He always struck me as more independent minded - not a kool-aid drinker. At 5/02/2006 1:34 PM Mr. Ducky said...

merry widow, the two Syrian families up the street haven't threatened to behead me either. They have offered Arabic lessons to my niece in exchange for help with English. Nice people, good neighbors.

I am aware of potential threats...a legitimate terrorist lived two streets over from me and was executed in Jordan.

I will reiterate that your delusional paranoia regarding islam is centered on a need for the extremes of Protestantism and Islam to present themselves as the one true way. Both are extremely dangerous. At 5/02/2006 1:36 PM Mr. Ducky said...

mussolini, I try to read a spectrum of periodicals. I admit that Foreign Affairs peeved me when they were regularly publishing noted fascist Max Boot but they do a fairly good job of presenting engaging articles. At 5/02/2006 1:52 PM Mr. Ducky said...

American Crusader, two on in the eighth and you don't have anyone who can pitch to Big Poppy? Could be a long season.

Please note that the classy fenway Faithful were throwing money at Joyhnny "Douchebag" Damon not batteries. Although I must admit that in my many trips down the cross Bronx I have never been hit with anything except food products at the stadium. At 5/02/2006 1:56 PM Mussolini said...

Ducky, I can't help but be fascinated with Foreign Affairs, but much like I would be facinated over an extremely large, and digsuting insect.

Does it bother you that they intend to use America, through NAFTA, GATT, CAFTA, and eventually AFTA for the purposes of social welfare at OUR expense?

I see this as distinctly anti-American, and of course they are very anti-nationalist, but what happened to our leaders "defending the constitution"? The damn rotted paper is dead! At 5/02/2006 2:08 PM Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...


I'm not certain of the equivalence you place upon the Democratic and Republican Parties. The Democratic Party has, since its inception in the early 1800s, been an organization solely dedicated to the twin goals of destroying the US Constitution and putting large numbers of dark-skinned people to death. Republicans don't have such starkly ignoble origins.

Although if 2008 comes down to a Hillary Clinton vs. John McCain contest for President, I'm probably going to stay home from the polls. I'm not anti-Hillary enough to vote for John McCain, and vice versa. At 5/02/2006 2:10 PM Mr. Ducky said...

Well mussolini, their last couple issues have had iraq front and center.

Please remember that I am a socialist and do not get upset with the idea of social welfare. I do support a complete epeal of NAFTA and I feel it is the source of a lot of the illegal immigrant problem.

I don't not believe that nationalism has anything to do with defending the Constitution. I consider laissez-faire capitalism (the kind Jason Pappas loves, the kind that shows we haven't learned anything since 1880) to be contrary to basic rights.

Hell, iranians are nationalists. That's a good part of the problem. We blocked a democratic movement by letting Chucklenuts talk tough and stir up their nationalism. Yes, i believe nationalism is driving the bus there, not Islam. You have a population that's average age is under 35 and they aren't to keen on wahabism. At 5/02/2006 2:26 PMMussolini said...

Ducky: I regretted hitting "publish" because I was a bit vague.

I know you're a socialist. I know you hold to social welfare. But do you like the idea that America is being used as social welfare for OTHER countries and WE as American citizens are forced to bear the cost?

Beamish: Lincoln was the first republican president, in name, and pursued the abrogation of our constitutional rights. From the very beginning.

I hold both in equal contempt. Slight shades of domestic degree, a few taxes and abortion, do not make a difference in my book. Both republicans and democrats are growing this country as fast as they can. Even the 94 republicans, long dead, were proponents of federal government.

We have not had anyone interested in returning this country to the intent of the constitution and/or the restoration of states rights.

They're both complicit and both playing a "game" of rhetoric. With a dominant republican majority in congress and the executive, where is this country headed? Solid, accelerating federal growth.

Deny it.

Saddam's Philippines Terror Connection, by Stephen F. Hayes,

March 27, 2006, Vol. 11, No. 26, The Weekly Standard, Saddam's Philippines Terror Connection, by Stephen F. Hayes,

And other revelations from the Iraqi regime files.

SADDAM HUSSEIN'S REGIME PROVIDED FINANCIAL support to Abu Sayyaf, the al Qaeda-linked jihadist group founded by Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law in the Philippines in the late 1990s, according to documents captured in postwar Iraq. An eight-page fax dated June 6, 2001, and sent from the Iraqi ambassador in Manila to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Baghdad, provides an update on Abu Sayyaf kidnappings and indicates that the Iraqi regime was providing the group with money to purchase weapons. The Iraqi regime suspended its support--temporarily, it seems--after high-profile kidnappings, including of Americans, focused international attention on the terrorist group.

The fax comes from the vast collection of documents recovered in postwar Afghanistan and Iraq. Up to this point, those materials have been kept from the American public. Now the proverbial dam has broken. On March 16, the U.S. government posted on the web 9 documents captured in Iraq, as well as 28 al Qaeda documents that had been released in February. Earlier last week, Foreign Affairs magazine published a lengthy article based on a review of 700 Iraqi documents by analysts with the Institute for Defense Analysis and the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia. Plans for the release of many more documents have been announced. And if the contents of the recently released materials and other documents obtained by The Weekly Standard are any indication, the discussion of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq is about to get more interesting.

Several months ago, The Weekly Standard received a set of English-language documents from a senior U.S. government official. The official represented this material as U.S. government translations of three captured Iraqi documents. According to this source, the documents had been examined by the U.S. intelligence community and judged "consistent with authentic documents"--the professionals' way of saying that these items cannot definitively be certified but seem to be the real thing.

The Weekly Standard checked its English-language documents with officials serving elsewhere in the federal government to make sure they were consistent with the versions these officials had seen. With what one person characterized as "minor discrepancies," they are. One of the three documents has been posted in the original Arabic on the website of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. A subsequent translation of that document is nearly identical to the English-language text that we were given.

These documents add to the growing body of evidence confirming the Iraqi regime's longtime support for terrorism abroad. The first of them, a series of memos from the spring of 2001, shows that the Iraqi Intelligence Service funded Abu Sayyaf, despite the reservations of some IIS officials. The second, an internal Iraqi Intelligence memo on the relationships between the IIS and Saudi opposition groups, records that Osama bin Laden requested Iraqi cooperation on terrorism and propaganda and that in January 1997 the Iraqi regime was eager to continue its relationship with bin Laden. The third, a September 15, 2001, report from an Iraqi Intelligence source in Afghanistan, contains speculation about the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda and the likely U.S. response to it.

ON JUNE 6, 2001, the Iraqi ambassador to the Philippines sent an eight-page fax to Baghdad. Ambassador Salah Samarmad's dispatch to the Secondary Policy Directorate of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry concerned an Abu Sayyaf kidnapping a week earlier that had garnered international attention. Twenty civilians--including three Americans--had been taken from Dos Palmas Resort on Palawan Island in the southern Philippines. There had been fighting between the kidnappers and the Filipino military, Samarmad reported. Several hostages had escaped, and others were released.

"After the release of nine of the hostages, an announcement from the FBI appeared in newspapers announcing their desire to interview the escaped Filipinos in order to make a decision on the status of the three American hostages," the Iraqi ambassador wrote to his superiors in Baghdad. "The embassy stated what was mentioned above. The three American hostages were a missionary husband and wife who had lived in the Philippines for a while, Martin and Gracia Burnham, from Kansas City, and Guillermo Sobrero, from California. They are still in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers from a total of 20 people who were kidnapped from (Dos Palmas) resort on Palawan Island." (Except where noted, parentheses, brackets, and ellipses appear in the documents quoted.)

The report notes that the Iraqis were now trying to be seen as helpful and keep a safe distance from Abu Sayyaf. "We have all cooperated in the field of intelligence information with some of our friends to encourage the tourists and the investors in the Philippines." But Samarmad's report seems to confirm that this is a change. "The kidnappers were formerly (from the previous year) receiving money and purchasing combat weapons. From now on we (IIS) are not giving them this opportunity and are not on speaking terms with them."

Samarmad's dispatch appears to be the final installment in a series of internal Iraqi regime memos from March through June 2001. (The U.S. government translated some of these documents in full and summarized others.) The memos contain a lengthy discussion among Iraqi officials--from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Iraqi Intelligence Service--about the wisdom of using a Libyan intelligence front as a way to channel Iraqi support for Abu Sayyaf without the risks of dealing directly with the group. (The Libyan regime had intervened in an Abu Sayyaf kidnapping in 2000, securing the release of several hostages by paying several million dollars in ransom. Some observers saw this as an effort by Muammar Qaddafi to improve his image; others saw it as an effort to provide support to Abu Sayyaf by paying the ransom demanded by the group. Both were probably right.)

One Iraqi memo, from the "Republican Presidency, Intelligence Apparatus" to someone identified only as D4/4, makes the case for supporting the work of the Qaddafi Charity Establishment to help Abu Sayyaf. The memo is dated March 18, 2001.
1. There are connections between the Qaddafi Charity Establishment and the Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines; meanwhile, this establishment is providing material support to them.

2. This establishment is one of the Libyan Intelligence fronts.

3. The Tripoli post has indicated that there is a possibility to form what connections are available with this establishment as it can offer the premise of providing food supplies to [Ed: word missing] in the scope of the agreement statement.

Please review . . . it appears of intelligence value to proceed into connections with this establishment and its intelligence investments in the Abu Sayyaf group.
The short response, two days later:
Mr. Dept. 3:

Study this idea, the pros and the cons, the relative reactions, and any other remarks regarding this.
That exchange above was fully translated by U.S. government translators. The two pages of correspondence that follow it in the Iraqi files were not, but a summary of those pages informs readers that the Iraqi response "discourages the supporting of connections with the Abu Sayyaf group, as the group works against the Philippine government and relies on several methods for material gain, such as kidnapping foreigners, demanding ransoms, as well as being accused by the Philippine government of terrorist acts and drug smuggling."

These accusations were, of course, well founded. On June 12, 2001, six days after Samarmad's dispatch, authorities found the beheaded body of Guillermo Sobrero near the Abu Sayyaf camp. Martin Burnham was killed a year later during the rescue attempt that freed his wife.

A thorough understanding of the relationship between Iraq and Abu Sayyaf (the name, honoring Afghan jihadi Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, means "Father of the Sword") will not come from an analysis of three months' correspondence between Manila and Baghdad in 2001. While it is certainly significant to read in internal Iraqi documents that the regime was at one time funding Abu Sayyaf, we do not now have a complete picture of that relationship. Why did the Iraqis begin funding Abu Sayyaf, which had long been considered a regional terrorist group concerned mainly with making money? Why did they suspend their support in 2001? And why did the Iraqis resume this relationship and, according to the congressional testimony of one State Department regional specialist, intensify it?

ON MARCH 26, 2003, as war raged in Iraq, the State Department's Matthew Daley testified before Congress. Daley, the deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told a subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee that he was worried about Abu Sayyaf.

"We're concerned that they have what I would call operational links to Iraqi intelligence services. And they're a danger, they're an enemy of the Philippines, they're an enemy of the United States, and we want very much to help the government in Manila deal with this challenge," Daley told the panel. Responding to a question, Daley elaborated. "There is good reason to believe that a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group who has been involved in terrorist activities was in direct contact with an IIS officer in the Iraqi Embassy in Manila. This individual was subsequently expelled from the Philippines for engaging in activities that were incompatible with his diplomatic status."

This individual was Hisham Hussein, the second secretary of the Iraqi Embassy in Manila. And Daley was right to be concerned.

Eighteen months before his testimony, a young Filipino man rode his Honda motorcycle up a dusty road to a shanty strip mall just outside Camp Enrile Malagutay in Zamboanga City, Philippines. The camp was host to American troops stationed in the south of the country to train with Filipino soldiers fighting terrorists. The man parked his bike and began to examine its gas tank. Seconds later, the tank exploded, sending nails in all directions and killing the rider almost instantly.

The blast damaged six nearby stores and ripped the front off of a café that doubled as a karaoke bar. The café was popular with American soldiers. And on this day, October 2, 2002, SFC Mark Wayne Jackson was killed there and a fellow soldier was severely wounded. Eyewitnesses almost immediately identified the bomber as an Abu Sayyaf terrorist.

One week before the attack, Abu Sayyaf leaders had promised a campaign of terror directed at the "enemies of Islam"--Westerners and the non-Muslim Filipino majority. And one week after the attack, Abu Sayyaf attempted to strike again, this time with a bomb placed on the playground of the San Roque Elementary School. It did not detonate. Authorities recovered the cell phone that was to have set it off and analyzed incoming and outgoing calls.

As they might have expected, they discovered several calls to and from Abu Sayyaf leaders. But another call got their attention. Seventeen hours after the attack that took the life of SFC Jackson, the cell phone was used to place a call to the second secretary of the Iraqi embassy in Manila, Hisham Hussein. It was not Hussein's only contact with Abu Sayyaf.

"He was surveilled, and we found out he was in contact with Abu Sayyaf and also pro-Iraqi demonstrators," says a Philippine government source, who continued, "[Philippine intelligence] was able to monitor their cell phone calls. [Abu Sayyaf leaders] called him right after the bombing. They were always talking."

An analysis of Iraqi embassy phone records by Philippine authorities showed that Hussein had been in regular contact with Abu Sayyaf leaders both before and after the attack that killed SFC Jackson. Andrea Domingo, immigration commissioner for the Philippines, said Hussein ran an "established network" of terrorists in the country. Hussein had also met with members of the New People's Army, a Communist opposition group on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist groups, in his office at the embassy. According to a Philippine government official, the Philippine National Police uncovered documents in a New People's Army compound that indicate the Iraqi embassy had provided funding for the group. Hisham Hussein and two other Iraqi embassy employees were ordered out of the Philippines on February 14, 2003.

Interestingly, an Abu Sayyaf leader named Hamsiraji Sali at least twice publicly boasted that his group received funding from Iraq. For instance, on March 2, 2003, he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the Iraqi regime had provided the terrorist group with 1-million pesos--about $20,000--each year since 2000.

ANOTHER ITEM from the Iraq-Philippines files is a "security report" prepared by the Iraqi embassy's third secretary, Ahmad Mahmud Ghalib, and sent to Baghdad by Ambassador Samarmad. The report provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the Iraqi Intelligence operation in the Philippines. A cover memo from the ambassador, dated April 12, 2001, gives an overview: "The report contain[s] a variety of issues including intelligence issues and how the Philippines, American and Zionist intelligence operate in the Philippines, especially the movements of the American intelligence in their efforts to fight terrorism and recruiting a variety of nationalities, particularly Arabs."

Ghalib's report is a rambling account of a phone conversation he had with an Iraqi intelligence informer named Muhammad al-Zanki, an Iraqi citizen living in the Philippines, who is referred to throughout the document as Abu Ahmad. The embassy official is looking for information on a third person, an informer named Omar Ghazal, and believes that Abu Ahmad might have some. (To review: Salah Samarmad is the Iraqi ambassador; Ahmad Mahmud Ghalib is the embassy's third secretary, most likely an Iraqi intelligence officer and author of the "security report"; Abu Ahmad is an Iraqi intelligence informer; and Omar Ghazal is another Iraqi intelligence informer.)

As the conversation begins, Abu Ahmad tells his embassy contact that he doesn't know where Omar Ghazal is and would have told the embassy if he did. He then tells the embassy contact that when he called Omar Ghazal's aunt to check on his whereabouts, she used a word in Tagalog--walana--which means "not here." But Abu Ahmad says its connotations are not good. "That word is used when you target one of the personnel who are assigned to complete everything (full mission). Then they announce that he is traveling and so on, and that's what I'm afraid of." The Iraqi embassy contact asks him to elaborate. "I have been exposed to that same phrase before, when I asked about an individual, and later on I found out that he was physically eliminated and no one knows anything about him."

The embassy official assures Abu Ahmad that Iraqi intelligence has also lost track of Ghazal, and became alarmed when he abruptly stopped attending soccer practice at a local college. Abu Ahmad fears the worst. "I'm afraid they might have killed him and I'm very worried about him," he says, according to the report. "The method that those people use is terrible and that's why I refuse to work with them."

The Iraqi embassy official interrupts Abu Ahmad. "Who are they? I would like to know who they are."

"Didn't I tell you before who they are?"


"The office group," says Abu Ahmad.

"Which office?" asks his Iraqi embassy handler.

"A long time ago the American FBI opened up an office in the Philippines, under American supervision and that there are Philippine Intelligence groups that work there. The goal of the office is to fight international terrorism (in the Philippines of course) and they have employees from various nationalities that speak of peace and international terrorism and how important it is to put an end to terrorism. The office also has other espionage affairs involving Arab citizens to work with them in order to provide them with information on the Arabs who are living in the Philippines and also for other spying purposes."

Abu Ahmad continues: "They also monitor diplomacy, and after I tried to lessen my amount of office work, I became aware that the office group was trying to get in contact with the person who is in charge of temporary work, Malik al-Athir, when he was alone."

Abu Ahmad tells his Iraqi embassy contact, Ghalib, that "the office" was trying to recruit an Arab to monitor Arab citizens in the Philippines. The Iraqi embassy contact suggests that Abu Ahmad volunteer for the job. Abu Ahmad says he had other plans. "I am leaving after I finish selling my house and properties and will move to Peshawar [Pakistan]. There I will be supplied with materials, weapons, explosives, and get married and then move to America. Do you know that there are more than one thousand Iraqi extremists who perform heroism jobs?" The speaker presumably means martyrdom operations.

The Iraqi embassy contact asks Abu Ahmad how he knows that those people are not "Saudis, Kuwaitis, Iranians."

Abu Ahmad replies: "They are bin Laden's people and all of them are extremists and they are heroes. Do you want me to give you their names?"

"Why not? Yes, I want them," says the Iraqi embassy contact.

"I will supply you with the names very soon. I will write some for you because I am in touch with them," says Abu Ahmad.

This report raises more questions than it answers. Who is Omar Ghazal and why did he disappear? What is the "office group" and how is it connected to Americans? What happened to Abu Ahmad? Were his stated plans--moving to Peshawar to obtain weapons and explosives and then moving to the United States--just bluster to impress his Iraqi embassy handler? A way to discontinue his work for the Iraqi regime? Or was he serious? Is he here now?

A SECOND internal Iraqi file obtained by The Weekly Standard concerns relations between Iraqi Intelligence and Saudi opposition groups. The document was apparently compiled at some point after January 1997, judging by the most recent date in the text, and discusses four Saudi opposition groups: the Committee for Defense of Legitimate Rights, the Reform and Advice Committee (Osama bin Laden), People of al Jazeera Union Organization, and the Saudi Hezbollah.

The New York Times first reported on the existence of this file on June 25, 2004. "American officials described the document as an internal report by the Iraqi intelligence service detailing efforts to seek cooperation with several Saudi opposition groups, including Mr. bin Laden's organization, before al Qaeda had become a full-fledged terrorist organization." According to the Times, a Pentagon task force "concluded that the document 'appeared authentic,' and that it 'corroborates and expands on previous reporting' about contacts between Iraqi intelligence and Mr. bin Laden in Sudan, according to the task force's analysis."

The most provocative aspect of the document is the discussion of efforts to seek cooperation between Iraqi Intelligence and the Saudi opposition group run by bin Laden, known to the Iraqis as the "Reform and Advice Committee." The translation of that section appears below.
We moved towards the committee by doing the following:

A. During the visit of the Sudanese Dr. Ibrahim al-Sanusi to Iraq and his meeting with Mr. Uday Saddam Hussein, on December 13, 1994, in the presence of the respectable, Mr. Director of the Intelligence Service, he [Dr. al-Sanusi] pointed out that the opposing Osama bin Laden, residing in Sudan, is reserved and afraid to be depicted by his enemies as an agent of Iraq. We prepared to meet him in Sudan (The Honorable Presidency was informed of the results of the meeting in our letter 782 on December 17, 1994).

B. An approval to meet with opposer Osama bin Laden by the Intelligence Services was given by the Honorable Presidency in its letter 138, dated January 11, 1995 (attachment 6). He [bin Laden] was met by the previous general director of M4 in Sudan and in the presence of the Sudanese, Ibrahim al-Sanusi, on February 19, 1995. We discussed with him his organization. He requested the broadcast of the speeches of Sheikh Sulayman al-Uda (who has influence within Saudi Arabia and outside due to being a well known religious and influential personality) and to designate a program for them through the broadcast directed inside Iraq, and to perform joint operations against the foreign forces in the land of Hijaz. (The Honorable Presidency was informed of the details of the meeting in our letter 370 on March 4, 1995, attachment 7.)

C. The approval was received from the Leader, Mr. President, may God keep him, to designate a program for them through the directed broadcast. We were left to develop the relationship and the cooperation between the two sides to see what other doors of cooperation and agreement open up. The Sudanese side was informed of the Honorable Presidency's agreement above, through the representative of the Respectable Director of Intelligence Services, our Ambassador in Khartoum.

D. Due to the recent situation of Sudan and being accused of supporting and embracing of terrorism, an agreement with the opposing Saudi Osama bin Laden was reached. The agreement required him to leave Sudan to another area. He left Khartoum in July 1996. The information we have indicates that he is currently in Afghanistan. The relationship with him is ongoing through the Sudanese side. Currently we are working to invigorate this relationship through a new channel in light of his present location.

(It should be noted that the documents given to The Weekly Standard did not include the attachments, letters to and from Saddam Hussein about the status of the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship. And the last sentence differs slightly from the version provided to the New York Times. In the Weekly Standard document, Iraq is seeking to "invigorate" its relationship with al Qaeda; in the Times translation, Iraq is seeking to "continue" that relationship.)

Another passage of the Iraq-Saudi opposition memo details the relationship between the Iraqi regime and the Committee for Defense of Legitimate Rights (CDLR), founded by Dr. Muhammad Abdallah al-Massari. Once again, Dr. Ibrahim al-Sanusi, the senior Sudanese government official, was a key liaison between the two sides. Al-Massari is widely regarded as an ideological mouthpiece for al Qaeda, a designation he does little to dispute. His radio station broadcasts al Qaeda propaganda, and his website features the rantings of prominent jihadists. He has lived in London for more than a decade. The Iraqi Intelligence memo recounts two meetings involving Dr. al-Sanusi and CDLR representatives in 1994 and reports that al-Massari requested assistance from the Iraqi regime for a trip to Iraq.

In 1995, the Iraqis turned to another Saudi to facilitate their relationship with al-Massari. According to the Iraqi memo, Ahmid Khudir al-Zahrani was a diplomat at the Saudi embassy in Washington who applied for political asylum in the United States. His application was denied, and al-Zahrani contacted the Iraqi embassy in London, seeking asylum in Iraq. His timing was good. Al-Zahrani's request came just as Iraqis were stepping up efforts to establish better relations with the Saudi opposition. According to the Iraqi Intelligence memo:
A complete plan was put in place to bring the aforementioned [al-Zahrani] to Iraq in coordination with the Foreign Ministry and our [intelligence] station in Khartoum [Sudan]. He and his family were issued Iraqi passports with pseudonyms by our embassy in Khartoum. He arrived to Iraq on April 21, 1995, and multiple meetings were held with him to obtain information about the Saudi opposition.

These contacts were not, contrary to the speculation of some Middle East experts, simply an effort to keep tabs on an enemy. The memo continues, summarizing Iraqi Intelligence activities:
We are in the process of following up on the subject, to try and establish a nucleus of Saudi opposition in Iraq, and use our relationship with [al-Massari] to serve our intelligence goals.

The final document provided to The Weekly Standard is a translation of a memo from the "Republican Command, Intelligence Division," dated September 15, 2001. It is addressed to "Mr. M.A.M.5."
Our Afghani source number 11002 (his biographic information in attachment #1) has provided us information that the Afghani consul Ahmed Dahestani (his biographic information attachment #2) has talked in front of him about the following:

1. That Osama bin Laden and the Taliban group in Afghanistan are in communication with Iraq and that previously a group of Taliban and Osama bin Laden have visited Iraq.

2. That America has evidence that the Iraqi government and the group of Osama bin Laden have cooperated to attack targets inside America.

3. In the event that it has been proven that the group of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban planning such operations, it is possible that America will attack Iraq and Afghanistan.

4. That the Afghani consul heard of the relation between Iraq and the group of Osama bin Laden while he was in Iran.

5. In the light of what has been presented, we suggest to write to the committee of information.

This document is speculative in parts, and the information it contains is third-hand at best. Its value depends on the credibility of "source number 11002" and of Ahmed Dahestani and of the sources Dahestani relied on, all of which are unknown.

We are left, then, with three small pieces to add to a large and elaborate puzzle. We will never have a complete picture of the Iraqi regime's support for global terrorism, but the coming release of a flood of captured documents should get us closer.

A new and highly illuminating article in Foreign Affairs draws on hundreds of Iraqi documents to provide a look at the Iraq war from the Iraqi perspective. The picture that emerges is that of an Iraqi regime built on a foundation of paranoia and lies and eager to attack its perceived enemies, internal and external. This paragraph is notable:
The Saddam Fedayeen also took part in the regime's domestic terrorism operations and planned for attacks throughout Europe and the Middle East. In a document dated May 1999, Saddam's older son, Uday, ordered preparations for "special operations, assassinations, and bombings, for the centers and traitor symbols in London, Iran and the self-ruled areas [Kurdistan]." Preparations for "Blessed July," a regime-directed wave of "martyrdom" operations against targets in the West, were well under way at the time of the coalition invasion.

Think about that last sentence.

Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Lacson Behind Plot to Bomb Metropolis?

January 1, 2002, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Op-Ed, Lacson behind plot to bomb metropolis? by Ramon Tulfo,

WHEW! We should thank our lucky stars alert military intelligence agents seized 100 blocks of plastic C-4 explosives before they could be used to maim or kill people and destroy property.

The seized explosives, of the very handy C-4 type, were capable of blowing up big buildings. They were confiscated from members of the Navy commando team that used to be assigned with the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Forces (PAOCTF).

Being held for investigation are Lt. (jg) Anthony Miraflor and eight of his men from the disbanded Special Reaction Unit, an elite unit within the elite Special Warfare Group (SWAG) of the Navy. SWAG is the local counterpart of the US Navy Seals. Miraflor and his men are in the custody of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Isafp).

If the name Miraflor sounds familiar to you, he and his men were pinpointed as being involved in recovering illegal drugs dumped into the sea from ocean-going ships entering the country. Miraflor and his men, who were expert divers, did it for PAOCTF which reportedly was heavily involved in the traffic of illegal drugs.

The notorious PAOCTF, whose members were implicated in the abduction and murder of publicist Salvador "Bubby" Dacer, was headed in a concurrent capacity by then Philippine National Police chief Panfilo Lacson.

And surprise! Surprise! Who do you think interceded for the release of Miraflor and his men after they were arrested by Isafp agents? Their former boss, Sen. Panfilo Lacson!

Lacson wrote a strong letter to Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes asking for the immediate release of Miraflor and his men.

Why was Lacson very interested in the immediate release of Miraflor?

Before that question can be answered, here's a piece of important information about the C-4 explosives seized by the Isafp agents from Miraflor and his men:

According to Isafp sources, they were of the same type used in the bombings of public places in Metro Manila on Dec. 31, 2000.

The explosives seized recently by Isafp agents were issued to Miraflor and his men in Sept., 2000, three months before the terrorist bombings that killed at least 17 persons.

What did that mean? That the explosives were already in the custody of Miraflor and his men before the Dec. 31, 2000 bombings. Could they have planted and exploded those terrorist bombs?

Was Miraflor's group planning to explode more bombs exactly one year after the bombings in public places? They could have if they were not arrested and the explosives confiscated on Dec. 28 by Isafp agents, according to my sources.

After the Dec. 31, 2000 attacks, then PNP and PAOCTF chief Panfilo Lacson arrested some alleged members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Lacson said the MILF wanted to avenge its defeat at the hands of the military earlier that year.

The Moro suspects were later released because there was no evidence against them.

My sources in the military and police intelligence say that Lacson could have masterminded the Dec. 31 bombings.

The terrorist attacks, the sources said, were meant to divert public attention from Erap's impeachment trial.

The second most powerful man in the Erap administration (second only to Erap himself), Lacson had everything to lose if his boss got booted out of office as a result of being found guilty in the impeachment trial. He was looking forward to the 2004 presidential election. Erap had to remain in office at any cost.

But as in all the other cases against him, Lacson could not be pinned down on the bombings. He was very good at covering his tracks.

Diverting public attention from important issues by terrorist bombings is not new. The Marcos government did that so he could justify the imposition of martial law on Sept. 21, 1972. At the time, Marcos had become very unpopular because he wanted to hold on to power even after his second term would have expired.

But Marcos was a "benevolent" terrorist compared to Erap and Lacson, according to my intelligence sources. In the bombings that led to martial law declaration, there were no fatalities. In the Dec. 31 bombings, 17 people lost their lives and scores of others were badly wounded.

Lacson, a confessed fan of Marcos, outdid his idol because he is more ruthless.

This is only speculation, but it was to Lacson's best interests that he interceded for the release of Miraflor and his men who were caught in possession of the powerful explosives.

Under intense questioning, who knows what Miraflor and his men might tell their interrogators at Isafp.

Lacson probably wanted Miraflor and his men to know that he was not leaving them to the dogs. That way, he still would get their loyalty and they would keep mum.

When he was still a young Constabulary lieutenant assigned at the Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group (MISG), Lacson learned that loyalty was a two-way traffic.

If you showed concern for your men, so the military mindset goes, they would not squeal on you if they were caught carrying out "dirty missions."

If Lacson would not show concern for Miraflor and his men they might implicate him in the destabilization plot.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Top Abu Sayyaf Leader Slain in Southern Philippines,

June 22, 2002, The China Post, Top Abu Sayyaf leader slain in southern Philippines,

A senior leader of a group of al-Qaida linked Muslim rebels who kidnapped three Americans was killed Friday during a high seas shootout, the Philippines military said.

Abu Sabaya, spokesman of the notorious Abu Sayyaf Muslim kidnapping group, was slain along with two of his men in a clash with an elite Navy Special Warfare Group (SWAG) unit before dawn, military officials said.

Four other gunmen were arrested after the navy sunk their boat off the coastal town of Sibuco on Mindanao island, the military added.

Officials, however, backtracked on earlier statements that they had already recovered Sabaya’s body from the sea after the vessel sank during the gunbattle.

But regional military chief Major General Ernesto Carolina said that one of the SWAG members confirmed that he shot Sabaya dead from a few meters away after Sabaya fell into the water during the clash.

President Gloria Arroyo said Carolina had informed her of Sabaya’s death and hailed the military “for their continuing determination and tenacity to finish off the Abu Sayyaf.”

Arroyo said the news of Sabaya’s death was relayed to US President George W. Bush and stressed that he was pleased at the progress being made in the fight against the Abu Sayyaf.

She added that the operation to finish off the kidnap-for-ransom group would continue, adding, the Philippine’s campaign against terror was not yet over.

“Terrorists will be hunted down relentlessly wherever they are, in the fastness of the jungle or on the high seas. They will be given no room to maneuver, to hide or to rest. We will not stop until they are all accounted for.”

Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes said that US technical surveillance had been key in pinpointing Sabaya’s group and that the clash was “a planned operation” and not a chance encounter.

The death of Abu Sabaya — born Aldam Tilao — could prove a major blow to the Muslim rebels who have terrorized the Philippines and a swathe of the South China Sea since mid-2000 with their kidnap-for ransom campaign.

The clash marked a fiery end for the 40 year-old Abu Sabaya, the highest-profile leader and spokesman of the gang which has defied a manhunt by 5,000 Filipino troops, many of them trained by US military advisers who arrived in January.

Officials said they recovered Sabaya’s backpack, his signature dark glasses and the satellite phone he used make calls to local radio stations where he taunted the government and boasted of his killings.

Hours after the fatal clash US aircraft airdropped leaflets over Abu Sayyaf strongholds, repeating offers of as much as five million dollars for information leading to the capture of other senior Abu Sayyaf leaders, said Major Richard Sater, spokesman for the US military contingent in the south.

Two weeks ago a military task force rescued U.S. hostage Gracia Burnham near Sibuco town, but her American husband and fellow Christian missionary, Martin Burnham, and a Filipina captive, nurse Ediborah Yap, were slain in the fighting on June 7.

The Burnhams were among a group of tourists captured from a Philippine resort in May 2001. A third American tourist, Peru-born Guillermo Sobero, was later beheaded by the kidnappers along with about a dozen other captives.

$5-M US bounty for Sayyaf still up for grabs,

June 9, 2002, Philippine Star, $5-M US bounty for Sayyaf still up for grabs, by Katherine Adraneda,

With no more hostages who may be caught in the crossfire, the troops will launch an all-out search and destroy operations against the Abu Sayyaf bandits, with the $5-million bounty offered by Washington still up for grabs.

"Without the hostages, the rules of the game have changed drastically," said National Security Adviser Roilo Golez. "Before, there were restrictions because lives maybe endangered."

"We can go all out against them, but still subject to the rules of engagement, within the bounds of the law," he stressed.

He appealed to the people to be vigilant against possible attempts by the Abu Sayyaf bandits to seize new hostages to be used as human shields against military attacks.

He also called on the people to immediately report to the authorities any suspicious movements of strangers in their localities.

"I ask the civilians to stand by the soldiers," Golez said, adding the military operations were still going on.

He said the $5 million offered by the US government stands since top Abu Sayyaf leaders are still on the loose.

Golez revealed that among the bodies recovered from Friday's scene of encounter between the Abu Sayyaf terrorists and the troops was that of a mid-level Abu Sayyaf leader.

The bounty, made possible through the US' Rewards for Justice Program being administered by the defense department, was offered for information leading to the capture of the five highest Abu Sayyaf leaders — Abdurajak Janjalani, Aldam Tilao alias Abu Sabaya, Isnilon Hapilon, Hamsiraji Sali and Abu Sulaiman.

The five led last year's raid on the posh Dos Palmas resort in Palawan where they rounded up 20 guests and staff members, including American missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham of Wichita, Kansas and fellow American Guillermo Sobero of Corona, California.

The Abu Sayyaf beheaded Sobero on June 12 as an Independence Day "gift" to President Arroyo.

The $5 million was apart from the P5-million bounty placed by the Philippine government on the heads of the top Abu Sayyaf leaders.

Golez also noted that the US government and the Burnham family did not blame Philippine authorities for the tragic rescue operation.

"There is no reason to believe that (Martin) Burnham was killed by friendly fire. Anyway, the US government said it does not matter whose bullet killed Martin because the full responsibility is with the ASG (Abu Sayyaf group)," Golez said.

He said Gracia Burnham, who has been confined in an undisclosed hospital in Metro Manila, has been declared out of danger, but still traumatized by her horrifying experience.

He clarified that the wound in Gracia's leg was caused by a sharp object, not by a bullet, and that a big mass of flesh was taken out from her leg.

Gracia will be subjected to a debriefing after she has fully recuperated, Golez said.

Golez also revealed that the troops retrieved from the scene of encounter a "farewell letter" written by Martin to his children.

Meanwhile, Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon expressed sympathies for the family of Martin Burnham and Deborah Yap who were slain during the rescue operation in Siraway, Zamboanga del Norte, as well as to the families of soldiers "who paid the supreme sacrifice" to secure the freedom of the hostages.

"They will be well remembered by a people who value freedom with their lives, in sharp contrast to the band of Godless brigands who showed neither mercy nor compassion," Gordon said in a statement.

He called on the people to rally behind President Arroyo and the troops involved in the operations against the Abu Sayyaf.

"We must not stop until justice triumphs, and the terrorists are expunged from the face of the earth," he said.

Monday, November 19, 2012

17 Sayyaf men get death for 2001 Lamitan hospital siege,

August 14, 2004, Philippine Star, 17 Sayyaf men get death for 2001 Lamitan hospital siege, Roel Pareno,

ISABELA, Basilan Seventeen members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group were sentenced to death yesterday for kidnapping nurses from a hospital in Lamitan, Basilan three years ago.

It was the first mass conviction of members of the Abu Sayyaf who have been kidnapping and killing Christians and foreigners in Mindanao for a decade.

Only 13 convicts, however, were present in a heavily guarded courthouse on Basilan island, where a clerk read the 41-page ruling that included a narration of a kidnapping spree that began with the mass abduction of more than 50 pupils, teachers and a priest in 2000, as well as three Americans and 17 Filipino tourists a year later.

Some of the convicted men sobbed when the verdict was read out while crowds outside the building shouted curses at the defendants.

About 200 police and soldiers, backed by two armored cars, secured the entire street where the courthouse was situated. They frisked pedestrians and shooed away those on motorcycles.

Among those sentenced to death was prominent Abu Sayyaf leader Mubin Ibba, alias Abu Black, who led the jailbreak on Black Saturday. Ibba and three others - Toting Hanoh, Jaid Awalan, and Anik Abbas - remain at large after they escaped from the Lamitan jail last April and were sentenced in absentia.

The convicts who were present during the reading of the sentence were

Urban Salceda,

Abdurahman Ismael Dialogia,

Abdulajid Ngaya,

Haber Asari,

Adzmar Aluk,

Bashir Abdul,

Markani Hapilon Iblong,

Lidjalon Sakandal,

Imran Hakimin,

Nadzmer Isnani Mandangan,

Kamar Jaafar,

Sonny Asali and

Bashir Ordon.

"They have accepted it (the sentence) and showed no remorse during the handing down of the decision,"Basilan information chief Cris Puno said.

As they were led out of the courtroom, some of the defendants shouted defiantly,"Allahu Akbar (God is Great)!"

One of the convicted men, Mandangan, said: "It's okay, even if you kill me 10 times, I am still happy. Tell that to your government."

Puno said the bandits were positively identified by their former hostages Reyna Malonzo, Reyna Tabunyag and Joel Guillo.

The Abu Sayyaf guerrillas raided the Jose Torres Hospital in Lamitan on June 2, 2001 to get medicines for their wounded comrades. The bandits brought along with them hostages from Dos Palmas, Palawan, including American missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham, and Guillermo Sobero.

Soldiers surrounded the building and the rebels took three female nurses and a male hospital clerk hostage to aid their escape.

Two of the nurses and the clerk later escaped. Another nurse, Edibora Yap, was killed more than a year later during a military rescue operation in Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte that also killed Martin Burnham.

Gracia, meanwhile, was recovered alive and last month she returned to the Philippines to testify against other accused Abu Sayyaf members in a separate trial in Manila.

Many Filipino hostages were recovered or freed after ransoms were paid.

Prosecutor Ricardo Cabaron said each member of the group received three death penalties for kidnapping the women. They were additionally sentenced to life imprisonment for kidnapping the male clerk.

"They will also be tried in other cases where they also participated," he said, referring to other kidnappings and killings including the beheading of Sobero several days after the escape from the Lamitan hospital. With AFP

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Timothy McVeigh and the Abu Sayyaf

April 26, 2002, The Manila Times, RP cops aware of long-term rightwing, Muslim connection, by Dorian Zumel-Sicat,

DAVAO CITY — The lawyer of executed Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh has provided victims of the tragedy with a report on an interrogation linking an American trader with rightwing Americans, agents of Iraq, Osama bin Laden and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

However, the most striking thing about the transcript is that it shows Philippine police have long been aware of operational ties between local Islamic radicals and rightwing foreigners.

Why the strange alliance exists remains a puzzle to police and military intelligence agents. A senior counter-terrorist expert says commerce and short-term goals could account for the unusual ties. "Eventually, they'll be killing each other. But for now, they seem to be working together."

New case

US Federal agents ignored evidence of these rightwing/Islamic links in the aftermath of the April 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. In the end, they succeeded in pinning the blame solely on McVeigh and his pal, Terry Nichols, who was married to Filipino women, one of them the daughter of Cebuano cop Eduardo Torres.

The suit filed by the Washington DC-based Judicial Watch on behalf of the victims of the 1995 blast has unearthed evidence earlier disallowed in the McVeigh trial. The victims also allege a federal cover-up of Iraqi involvement though the reason remains unclear.

McVeigh's lawyer, Stephen Jones, provided the new plaintiffs with a report on the 'soft interrogation' of slain ASG co-founder and government deep cover agent, Edwin Angeles. The Manila Times obtained a copy of the document.

The report names John Lepney, an import/export trader, as among those who met in 1992 and 1993 with Angeles, Ramsey Yousef, McVeigh accomplice Terry Nichols, and some unnamed Iraqis, in a Muslim ghetto in Tibongco, this city. The meeting took place just months prior to the Oklahoma City bombing.

Series of meetings

The Angeles interrogation transcript dates back to 1996. It shows the ASG officer talking with an official of the Philippine National Police and another from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Also present were two lawyers hired by Jones to witness the interrogation. The Manila Times was requested to withhold identities of the two lawyers and the two officials pending the Washington trial.

The report pictured Angeles as eager to talk, almost garrulous, offering information on mail-order brides and terrorists. It was the police officer who showed Angeles a photo album of alleged mail-order bride facilitators.

The Abu Sayyaf leader leafed through and pointed out one of the men. In the vernacular, he said, "This man I know, this is John Lepney." He said the American lived in Davao City and was known to import appliances and electronics. Angeles knew Lepney enough to join him in massage sessions at the Plaza Roman, also in this city.

Other meetings, however, were not so innocent. Among Angeles and Lepney's companions in subsequent gatherings were Nichols and Abdul Basis — who would later be known as Ramzi Yousef, the convicted mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing.

At a meeting in the vicinity of the Del Monte labeling factory here, they were joined by Wali Khan, a Jordanian pilot who would later be arrested in Malaysia, and Abdul Hakim Murad, Yousef's co-accused in the World Trade Center blast.

Angeles did not state in the interrogation what the meeting was about, but mentioned that Nichols had passed himself as a farmer. He also volunteered having stayed for at least eight months in Tibongco.


An intelligence source here told The Manila Times, "It is strange that people like Nichols, and this Lepney would go to that part of Tibongco. At that time it was a stronghold of Muslim separatists. They must have had serious business there for them to take the risk, even if they were accompanied by people like Angeles."

Robert Bickel, senior investigator for the law firm of John Michael Johnston in Oklahoma City, and the representative firm Judicial Watch in Washington, DC, said the reason for the new evidence is that only certain parts of Angeles' statements were allowed as evidence during the McVeigh and Nichols trials.

"Jones filed objections to the motions to allow the statement but to no avail. That is why we're only hearing about Lepney now," Bickel said in a telephone interview.

The Philippine intelligence source told The Times, that cops then were interested in knowing who bankrolled Nichols, a big spender who did not have any clear source of income. It was not clear, however, why no cop had interviewed Lepney if they were really interested in him.


"We have to remember that Nichols had no gainful employment after his 1989 hardship discharge from the US Army. He was nothing but a farm worker who could never afford the trips to the Philippines that he made from 1990 to 1994," the source said.

The same source also noted that Marife Nichols went to the United States supposedly to join her husband in 1994, carrying with her $4,000 in cash, and from between $10,000 to $18,000 in gold coins.

Nichols left his estranged wife, Lana Padilla with at least $20,000 in cash and up to $100,000 in gold and silver before he made his last trip to the Philippines in 1994, just months before the Oklahoma City bombing.

"Lepney appears to be the guy to find. More interesting, is the fact that the prosecution was adamant in keeping the Angeles statement out of evidence. The reason for it was the absence of a warm body. That still doesn't hold water today," Bickel told The Times.

The Times was able to confirm that Lepney did indeed reside and do business in Davao City during 1990 to 1996. "He would come in often. He did enjoy Tanduay and Coke, and he loved kinilaw. When he became drunk he would many times brag about his adventures with Moro rebels, but most of us just ignored him," says a popular bar owner who has asked to remain anonymous.

Lepney's present whereabouts, or where he exactly did business in this city are both unknown at this time


April 19, 2002, Manila Times, "Deathbed" Confession Transcript: Elmina Abdul, by Dorian Zumel, News Correspondent, 

-- World Exclusive

The following interview with ELMINA ABDUL, widow of EDWIN ANGELES, one of the co-founders of the ABU SAYYAF GROUP (ASG), and deep cover agent for the Defense Intelligence Group (DIG) of the Department of National Defense (DND), of the Republic of the Philippines, was taken on March 10, 2002, in the presence of CHRISTOPHER M. PUNO, Information Officer of the Province of Basilan, at BASCOM Hospital, in the general ward.


(After introduction to ELMINA ABDUL by Provincial Information Officer Christopher Puno)

NOTE: I interviewed ELMINA in Tagalog, she answered me in Chavacano and Cebuano, two of the local dialects spoken in Basilan. She did not speak in the indigenous dialect because she knew that I do not speak or understand that dialect.

DZS: Good morning Ms. Angeles

DZS: How are you feeling this morning?

EA: Not very well.

DZS: Do you feel like talking with me?

EA: Yes, but not so long. I am tired.

DZS: I will try to be as short as possible. Did Chris tell you what I am here to talk to you about?

EA: Yes. And I am the one who asked him to look for you after I was told that you are interested in the truth about my husband.

DZS: Good. Okay. You are not Edwin's first wife, is that true?

EA: Yes. I am his third wife. For Muslim men, they can have even four wives, if each of the other ones approve.

DZS: How, when and where did you meet Edwin?

EA: We met when he was in the Provincial Jail here in Isabela, in 1995. I was then working for the government radio station, dxOS (Philippine Information Agency) PIA.

DZS: That was after his capture?

EA: Yes.

DZS: When did you marry him?

EA: In 1997.

DZS: I am going to ask you some very sensitive questions now. Is that all right with you?

EA: Yes. I want to tell the truth of what I know of my late husband.

DZS: Did you know that he was one of those who founded the ASG, along with the late Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, in 1991?

EA: Yes. I know also why he was one of them.

DZS: Can you tell me why?

EA: Yes, I want to tell you why. I want now to tell the truth about my husband. I will die soon. I want you to know the truth. Will you write the truth, Mr. Sicat?

DZS: Yes. I will. I promise.

EA: You are not afraid?

DZS: More than you know, Mrs. Angeles.

EA: Good. Maybe you will stay alive and safe because of your fear. I will tell you that Edwin was ordered to do that.

DZS: Can you explain please.

EA: He was what they call a deep penetration agent or DPA.

DZS: Can you explain please?

EA: As I told you, he was given orders.

DZS: By whom?

EA: Some very powerful men in the DND.

DZS: Did he tell you why?

EA: No. Only that he was ordered to help to organize the ASG and to report all developments.

DZS: Did he tell you who it was?

EA: Not by names. But he told my only at the highest levels.

DZS: Did he ever tell you about his activities in the ASG before he met you?

EA: He told me everything. I do not believe that he would hide anything from me when we were talking alone.

DZS: Please do not be offended, but how do you know that?

EA: Not only because I was his wife, but because he knew that he would soon be killed. He wanted me to know everything so that if anything happened to him I could tell others.

DZS: Do you want to stop now?

EA: No. More water please.

DZS: Can I ask you about some things that happened back in the mid-90s? 1993, 1994?

EA: Yes. I will try to answer what you ask.

DZS: Did he ever talk to you about meetings with Arabs or Americans?

EA: Yes, once he had met with some Arabs and Americans in 1994, in Davao (City), or General Santos (City).

DZS: Did he tell you who they were?

EA: Does the name Ramsey Yousef mean something to you Mr. Sicat?

DZS: Ahmad Hassim. Does that mean something to you?

EA: He had met with them. And an American who he called Terry or the Farmer, and another American whom he did not name.

DZS: Was the American he named as Terry, Terry Nichols?

EA: He did not mention the surname. Only Terry.

DZS: Did he tell you why and how many times they had met?

EA: They met almost every day for one week. They met in an empty bodega (warehouse). They talked about bombings. They mentioned bombing government buildings in San Francisco, Saint Louis and in Oklahoma. The Americans wanted instructions how to make and to explode bombs. He (Edwin) told me that Janjalani was very interested in paying them much money to explode the buildings. The money was coming from Yousef and the other Arab.

DZS: Did he tell you when the bombs would explode; when they exploded?

EA: He told me that the Americans exploded one bomb in Oklahoma in 1995, after he was arrested and after we first met.

DZS: Did he ever tell you who was supplying the money for the bombing of the building, I mean who Yousef was working with or for?

EA: Mr. Sicat, you are the mediaman. Do you not know that Yousef was representing Iraq and Saddam Hussein? Do you not know that?

DZS: Did Edwin tell you that?

EA: Not only Edwin, but others that were close to us, before he was killed. One time, a soldier (Philippine Army) and Edwin were talking secretly. I was there because Edwin demanded. The soldier ordered Edwin never to tell anybody about the Iraqis.

DZS: Did you ever see that soldier before or after that time?

EA: Only two times before. He was the one who would talk to him for information.

DZS: Mrs. Angeles, do you know who killed your husband, Edwin?

EA: The ones who used him and then betrayed him, Mr. Sicat. (She grows visibly weaker). I want to rest now.

DZS: I understand. I'll let you rest now. Thank you so much, Mrs. Angeles. You have told me so much. I will try to see you tomorrow if you are up to it.

NOTE: I was not able to speak with ELMINA again. She became too weak and incoherent the following day. A few days later, the doctors had diagnosed that she was terminal. She needed to be transferred to Davao City to the Regional Hospital (government) for treatment. A few days later, while I was in Davao, arranging for her admission to the Regional Hospital, Chris told me that she could no longer be moved. She would die in transit. Since Muslims require burial within 24 hours of death, I understood the reasoning. The following day, Chris contacted me that ELMINA ABDUL, widow to EDWIN ANGELES (killed by unknown assailants in 1998), died in the pre-dawn hours Saturday March 30. She was the last one to talk with her husband before he was killed. I was the last and only reporter to talk with her about her husband before she died.


News Correspondent
Manila Times /Omega News Service (USA)
Investigative Liaison to Law Office of John Michael Johnston
Robert Bickel, Sr.
Senior Investigator and Legal Analyst

Law offices of John Michael Johnston

Elmina Abdul Angeles Statement