Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Government to Sequester Sayyaf Assets

sequester [sɪˈkwɛstə]
vb (tr)
1. to remove or separate
2. (usually passive) to retire into seclusion
3. (Law) Law to take (property) temporarily out of the possession of its owner, esp until the claims of creditors are satisfied or a court order is complied wit
4. (Law) International law to requisition or appropriate (enemy property)

[from Late Latin sequestrāre to surrender for safekeeping, from Latin sequester a trustee]

I didn't think sequester was the right word for this usage, but lo-and-behold, a fourth definition, specific to international law, is spot on--as in "appropriating enemy property." The Philippine National Police had long been infamous for keeping for their "professional" use any stolen late-model automobiles which they happened to recover, simply by citing a need as their justification. Likewise, Philippine armed forces were travelling on an appropriated high-performance speedboat when they claim to have intercepted and killed the notorious Abu Sayyaf leader and spokesman Abu Sabaya. The Abu Sayyaf had purchased the costly triple-engine vessel with ransom money from the Sipadan hostage taking on Easter, 2000, which the Abu Sayyaf then utilized to effect the Dos Palmas hostage taking in May, 2001---that is, until they ran out of fuel with 20 hostages aboard and had to abandon the boat to authorities.
So it seems a bit incestuous that in June 2002 the AFP (with American SEALS and  Green Berets trailing in inflatable rubber craft, rammed a slower going local "kumpit" carrying Abu Sabaya, and an uncertain number of his underlings (One of whom, in his early twenties, died of a "heart attack" during police interrogations; and we learned much later that two of Sabaya's aide d'camp were deep-penetration agents working for the government.) This encounter caused Abu Sabaya to fall overboard, where he was riddled with gunfire, with his remains then sinking, his corpse never to be recovered. In that way he was like a possibly unspoken motivation for the disposal of Osama bin Laden's remains----ie., unexumable, they both "sleep with the fishes," in Mario Puzo's appropriate gangster euphemism.

November 17, 2000, Sun Star Zamboanga, Gov't to sequester Sayyaf assets, by Bong Garcia Jr.,
The military are studying possible ways of confiscating all housing units and other properties, which prominent leaders of the Abu Sayyaf acquired through the ransom money the bandits had amassed during the hostage-taking in Sulu.

Joint Task Force Trident chief Maj. Gen. Narciso Abaya Thursday said at least eight housing units acquired by the Abu Sayyaf in Indanan town were discovered by the pursuing military troops. Abaya said the government lawyers are now studying what legal process could be applied to sequester the properties acquired by the Abu Sayyaf through the use of the ransom money.

"Obviously these properties are illegally acquired because they have purchased the properties using the ransom money they have amassed from kidnappings and our lawyers are studying the possibilities to confiscate all of these," Abaya said. "We have to teach them a lesson that they will not earn any kingdom out of their kidnappings," he added. The military are also trying to establish the identity of the housing unit owners.

He said most of the villagers are now helping the military and the police to locate all the properties, which were acquired by the Abu Sayyaf during the hostage crisis. The Abu Sayyaf, who seized a total of 42 people mostly foreigners including journalists covering the hostage crisis, has amassed million of pesos from the ransom paid to them.

Each of the foreigners out of the 21 people of the bandits has seized last April 23 in Sipadan, Sabah, Malaysia was freed in exchange of P40-million. Fifteen of the European journalists were divested of their cash, equipments and other personal belongings. Another group of 9 German journalists were allowed to cover the camp a day after the interview by the bandits following payment of U.S. $25,000. The military intelligence disclosed that the bandits managed to amass more than P300-million.
Now I just noticed that the BBC's original reporting, quoting Major-General Ernesto Carolina, (who was the newly installed commander of the Armed Forces' Southern Command,) said that "divers had recovered sunglasses like those worn by Abu Sabaya, a satellite phone and a backpack from the sea."


While in a second BBC article published the same day, June 21, 2002, it states that "[a] pair of Abu Sabaya's trademark wrap-around sunglasses was found broken at the scene. [the scene was the attempted hostage-rescue encounter between the AFP and Abu Sayyaf in the hinterland hills of Mindanao island.] He is known for always wearing black shades and a black bandana."
Although he might have had more than one pair, it became standard reference fact in news articles that Abu Sabaya lost or had left behind in his escape from the attempted hostage rescue his sunglasses, satellite phone and knapsack (in which the CIA had secreted a tracking device! Since tracking his near-constant,"taunting" phone calls via satellite interception would seem to be only the keen of the National Reconnaissance Office. "50 Years of Vigilance From Above!" or so we're told.)

21 June, 2002, BBC News, Abu Sayyaf still a threat,
Friday, 14:57 GMT 15:57 UK

Abu Sabaya (right) is the group's best-known leader

The Philippines military has claimed to have killed a top Abu Sayyaf leader, Abu Sabaya, in what would be a propaganda coup for the authorities.

But even if confirmed, Abu Sabaya's death may not spell the death-knell for the group.

He is the chief spokesman and best-known leader of the Muslim rebel group, which is notorious for kidnapping for ransom.
Abu Sayyaf's top leader Khadafi Janjalani (right) is still at large

But other leaders are still unaccounted for - including four with a $5m American bounty on their heads.
Abu Sayyaf expert Glenda Gloria told BBC News Online that Abu Sabaya's death, if confirmed, would be a "big victory" for the government but would "not solve the whole problem".

"Abu Sabaya is known to be the most ruthless leader of them all, but there are other leaders still in hiding," she said.

The Abu Sayyaf - which says it is fighting for a separate Muslim state - is led by the reclusive Khadafi Janjalani, brother of the group's founder, Abdurajak Janjalani, who was killed by troops in 1998.

He remains a key figure said Ms Gloria, co-author of Under the Crescent Moon: Rebellion in Mindanao. There are also other factions unaccounted for, she said.

"It's a very loose organisation," she said. "That's always been a problem for the military."

Most wanted

Abu Sabaya - who changed his name from Aldam Tilao - was the most prominent name on the US wanted-list, known for using satellite phones to call local radio stations and taunt the authorities.

A former police trainee, he used to be a member of the Muslim separatist group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), before leaving the group when it signed a 1996 peace treaty with the government.

He spent a number of years in Saudi Arabia before joining the Abu Sayyaf in 1999. He went on to lead a series of high-profile kidnappings of foreigners and Filipinos, many of whom were killed or released for ransom.

In June 2001 he announced on radio that the group had beheaded Californian Guillermo Sobero as an "independence day gift" for President Gloria Arroyo. The remains of Mr Sobero were found four months later.

Two weeks ago, two remaining US hostages were shot during a shootout between rebels and Philippine troops. US missionary Martin Burnham and a Filipina nurse were killed, but Mr Burnham's wife Gracia was rescued.

A pair of Abu Sabaya's trademark wrap-around sunglasses was found broken at the scene. He is known for always wearing black shades and a black bandana.

June 8, 2002, CNN World, Rescue raid ends in hostage deaths

A Philippine commando raid meant to free two Americans and a Philippine citizen held hostage by the Islamic rebel group Abu Sayyaf ended with two of the hostages dead Friday.

The hostages were held for more than a year by Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic separatist group in the southern Philippines that U.S. officials say is linked to al Qaeda. President Bush said Friday that Abu Sayyaf would be held accountable for the hostages' deaths.

The rescue attempt early Friday led to a two-hour firefight and the deaths of hostages Martin Burnham, an American missionary from Wichita, Kansas, and Deborah Yap, a Filipina nurse. The third hostage -- Burnham's wife, Gracia Burnham -- was wounded in her right leg and is out of danger, Philippine Marine Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Teodosio said.

Officials said that several Filipino soldiers and rebels also died in the rescue attempt.

Authorities said Gracia Burnham was being brought to Manila to be reunited with her sister, Cheryl Spicer. Martin Burnham's body will be taken to Okinawa for transport to the United States, they said.

In Kansas, Doug Burnham, Martin Burnham's brother, said Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo telephoned the family personally to give them the news.

"Obviously it hasn't turned out the way we were expecting it to turn out," he said from Rose Hill Bible Church. "We are thankful that Gracia is alive, and our faith in the Lord is still the same. It doesn't change, and that's what we're going to hold onto." (Family reaction)

Bush expressed his sympathies to the Burnham family and said he had discussed the raid with Arroyo.

"She assured me that the Philippine government would hold the terrorist group accountable for how they treated these Americans, that justice would be done," Bush said.

The president later phoned Burnham's parents to "personally express his condolences," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

A premonition of violence had led Martin Burnham to write a letter several days ago to his three children, a senior Philippine military official said. That letter was recovered after the rescue. (Full story)

The Burnham children remain with their maternal grandparents, Doug Burnham said. He declined to express an opinion about the rescue attempt, saying there were not enough details available to form one.

"We are grateful for everyone who tried to rescue them," he said. "I'm sure in the future, we'll get more details."

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