Balik Terrorism: The Return of the Abu Sayyaf, by Dr. Zacha

What you are allowed to think and what you do think are two different things, aren't they? That's another way of saying that this forum may be NSFW, if your boss is a Republican. A liberal won't fire you for it, but they'll laugh at you in the break room and you may not get promoted. Unless you're an engineer, of course, in which your obsession with facing reality is not actually a career-disabling disability.

Re: Balik Terrorism: The Return of the Abu Sayyaf, by Dr. Za

Postby admin » Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:17 am


While JI continues to train its members in MILF camps in the Lanao del Sur-Maguindanao region, some evidence suggests that JI members are availing themselves of ASG bases in Tawi Tawi. These reports are unconfirmed, but if true, they would further indicate that there are ties between the two groups.

Clearly JI leaders worry that the MILF sees them as expendable. While some in the MILF see JI as fellow travelers and allies, many in the MILF leadership see the JI as a liability. At best, they see JI as their strongest card to be played in the peace talks. To that end, JI has to hedge its bets and strengthen ties to the ASG.

A true core of hardened JI operatives is now in Mindanao working with the ASG and some members of the MILF. They offer unimpeachable terrorist credentials and cachet, a wealth of terrorist expertise, ideological tutelage, and bomb making skills. Most significantly, they have a neo-Darul Islam orientation, the stated endstate goal of a pan-Southeast Asian Islamic caliphate necessitating provoking radical sectarian conflict. To that end, I have been told hat Laskar Jundullah operatives are now encamped in the region. The ASG has a vast reservoir of recruits and they control pockets of territory, while JI has the technical expertise that the ASG needs to escalate the war against Manila and become an effective fighting force. The implications of this are clear.
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Re: Balik Terrorism: The Return of the Abu Sayyaf, by Dr. Za

Postby admin » Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:18 am


The ASG has reemerged as a terrorist element in Southeast Asia. Though a small group, they are of concern to the United States for three primary reasons. First, they will continue to target Americans and U.S. interests. Second, they have shown a propensity for establishing working ties with transnational terrorist groups like JI and al Qaeda. [162] Third, they seek to spoil the MILF-GRP peace process, which is of great importance to U.S. and regional security, since without access to MILF sanctuaries, JI will have trouble reconstituting its depleted ranks. For those reasons, the United States should take the ASG threat seriously.

Nonetheless, U.S. officials must recognize that neither the ASG nor the MILF pose the largest security threat to the GRP. Indeed, the ASG is a nuisance, though were it to be able to attack Manila on a regular and sustained basis, serious economic repercussions would result. All evidence suggests that these groups will continue to do this. [163] The single greatest threat to the Philippine state continues to come from the CPP /NPA. This has two important implications: First, the GRP should be expected to play up the ASG threat when speaking to a U.S. audience in order to elicit more aid and military assistance; at the same time they may deny the MILF relationship with and training of JI. [164] Second, the GRP will often engage in quick half-measures to deal with the ASG and MILF. For example, though the GRP and the MILF are currently engaged in peace talks, expectations are slight that the GRP has the capacity or will to actually implement any final agreement, thereby sowing the seeds of the next insurgency. Disaffected members of the MILF and ASG will lead this insurgency.

The MILF-GRP peace talks are important and the U.S. Government should support them. With the conclusion of a peace agreement, the MILF will have certain rights, but it will also have obligations, in particular, policing its autonomous region. Both the ASG and JI rely on the MILF as neither control territory or have ready access to guns, materiel, and money. The majority of the MILF can be weaned off of their relationship with terrorist groups.

There has been talk of placing the MILF on the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization list as punishment for its continued support for the ASG and JI. [165] While most bureaucratic entities understand that the MILF is a legitimate entity (certainly their grievances are), patience is wearing thin. Only the State Department continues to resist the designation, and even it is divided on the issue. [166] The MILF believe that links between them and JI are at a low enough level that they have a degree of plausible deniability. What is of significant concern to American and regional intelligence officials is not simply that the training is continuing, but that a cadre of first- generation, Afghan-trained JI members is now based in Mindanao, including Dulmatin and Umar Patek, two of the Bali bombers. Increasingly, Mindanao is seen not just as a rear base of operations, but as a potential center of operations. As Deputy Chief of Mission Joseph Mussomelli said, "The threat remains, and, frankly, on some ways it is growing. The number of JI that are there, the links between JI and MILF factions and ASG may even be increasing." [167]

In a trip to Manila in early April, the newly appointed Commander of U.S. Forces in the Pacific, Admiral William Fallon, raised the issue of designation, [168] causing an outcry from the Philippine government, including President Arroyo. [169] Admiral Fallon's statement reflects U .S. frustration with both the MILF and the Philippine Government. Regarding the former, the intelligence is making it hard for anyone to believe the MILF's denials. Regarding the latter, the Philippine government has shown little seriousness or vision regarding the peace process. President Arroyo has shown little leadership that is needed if she is to succeed in reaching a deal with the MILF that will stabilize Mindanao. The Philippine government does not want the United States to do it, because it will stall the peace process and potentially lead to a resumption of war; [170] something the Philippine government can ill-afford.

While the MILF publicly scoffs at designation, they should not. Designation would delegitimize their movement and hurt their dream of an East Timor styled United Nations (UN)-sponsored referendum. Moreover, the UN Security Council will likely follow suit, and the MILF has no friends on the Security Council. Moreover, it will set back the peace process and give hardliners in the Philippine military the incentive to continue the war.

The recalcitrant wings of the MILF and the ASG must be dealt with militarily. There is nothing to negotiate with these groups. They are too willing to use indiscriminate violence in pursuit of their radical agenda, and they are too willing to form tactical alliances with transnational terrorist organizations, linking themselves with the pan-Islamic Salafi Jihadist agenda.

But to deal with the ASG and radical elements of the MILF militarily is not going to be easy. The AFP does not have the capability or resources to accomplish this mission. And at some level, they do not have the integrity: the AFP is so fraught with corruption that at certain points they have made a mockery out of fighting the war on terror. While individual Filipino soldiers have demonstrated remarkable valor in the field, too many of their leaders have enriched themselves at their subordinates' expense. The AFP has taken well to U.S. training. Units in the field that I have interviewed take great pride in their U.S. training. It is certainly good for morale. U.S. training, especially small unit, special operations training, should continue.

But U.S. policymakers and Pentagon officials have to be concerned about falling into a trap: With roughly $80 million in annual military assistance to Manila and little to show for it, the United States should both reevaluate the aid program as well as establish better auditing mechanisms for the equipment provided. Aid in the current fiscal year is purported to have been cut to $31.76 million. [171] While the training programs have accorded some results, one gets the impression that when U.S. advisors are not with their Philippine trainees, combat operations grind to a halt, and ASG members mysteriously break through cordons.

Since the debacle in early 2003, when the Pentagon announced the plans for Balikitan-03, in which U.S. forces would "conduct or support combat patrols" for an open-ended period, [172] and then had to delay the deployment owing to the political uproar, U.S. officials have been more sensitive to the domestic response in the Philippines. There is considerable public and congressional concern in the Philippines that the United States is simply out to reestablish permanent bases. These concerns seem misguided at a time when the Pentagon is actually consolidating bases, but they still exist. [173]

If U.S. forces continue to be engaged in Mindanao, they should increase their civil action programs. They are exceptionally well-received by the local communities, whose information and intelligence is essential to effective counterinsurgency operations. Road construction, well building, and medical treatment are a low-cost, high-yield investment.

Finally, we need to further assist the Philippine government in its ability to monitor and disrupt terrorist financing. To that end, the U.S. Government must also push the Saudi Arabian government to fulfill its pledge to monitor the activities of their charities. Much of the ASG's funding and support comes through the charities established by Mohammad Jamal Khalifa in the early-1990s that have either remained open to this date, or simply proliferated into a number of smaller charities.
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Re: Balik Terrorism: The Return of the Abu Sayyaf, by Dr. Za

Postby admin » Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:18 am


The ASG remains a very loose coalition of groups. I question the degree of control that Khadaffy Janjalani has over the ASG groups in Jolo, Basilan, and Tawi Tawi. They have neither the discipline nor the command and control that the MILF has over their troops. It remains to be seen whether Khadaffy Janjalani can consolidate his power. It is also not clear how durable either organization would be with the capture or neutralization of Janjalani.

But the ASG has emerged as a serious security threat to Philippine and arguably regional security. They have forged closer relations with hard-line MILF elements, and have proven themselves to be a reliable partner for JI. There is a critical mass now of senior JI operatives, not just young recruits. Many now see Mindanao as a base of operations, rather than a rear training area.

Any surge in terrorist activities will have a devastating impact on the Philippine economy, already beset by an ongoing, serious fiscal crisis. The government, which is calling on its line ministries to accept a 40 percent budget cut this fiscal year, can ill afford either increased security costs or a loss of foreign investment. Already, there is little foreign direct investment (FDI) because the huge public sector debt, which has more than doubled to RP3.36 trillion (US $60.32 billion) since the Asian Economic Crisis in 1997, is not leaving the government money to invest in infrastructure. The national debt rose by 13.6 percent to RP3.8 trillion between 2003-04 (78.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), one of the highest ratios in the developing world). FDI is 19 percent of GDP, and must be increased to 28 percent, to deal with the country's surging unemployment that has increased from 12.2 percent in first quarter of 2003 to 13.7 to the same period in 2004. Of the country's 36.5 million-man labor force, more than five million are unemployed, and countless more are underemployed.

And yet little meaningful government counterterrorism movement or action is in the offing, as it is a very low priority of the public, and hence a poll-driven president. In March 2005 public opinion surveys by both the Social Weather Station and Pulse Asia, the president's performance approval ratings plummeted. Approval of her performance fell to 36 percent, while disapproval was up to 48 percent. [174] The Pulse Asia study found that her public support fell from 55 percent in June 2004 to 38 percent in March 2005. [175] Public perception of the country's direction is plummeting, mainly due to economic issues: 59 percent of Filipinos believe that the country will be worse off in 12 months' time. When asked to list their three most pressing issues, counterterrorism only garnered support from 6 percent of the respondents, while economic issues dominated their concerns: controlling prices (45 percent), poverty reduction (32 percent), national economic recovery (31 percent), low pay (30 percent), and the national deficit (10 percent). [176] While peace rated highly (35 percent), disapproval of the government's peace initiatives rose from 28 to 35 percent. [177] These numbers do not bode well for either counterterror efforts or peace initiatives in the Philippines. For a president concerned with her political standing, most efforts will be focused on core economic issues, and not the threat of terrorism.
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Re: Balik Terrorism: The Return of the Abu Sayyaf, by Dr. Za

Postby admin » Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:18 am



1. Karl B. Kaufman and Johnathan Vicente, "3 Held in Plot to Bomb U.S. Embassy," The Manila Times, October 22, 2004; Jaime Laude, " AFP: J1 Plot to Bomb U.S. Embassy Foiled," The Philippine Star, October 22, 2004.

2. In a radio statement claiming responsibility, Abu Solaiman, the group's spokesman, said, "Our latest operation in GenSan, Davao, and Manila, planned and executed with precision by the gallant warriors of Islam, is our continuing response to the government's atrocities committed against Muslims everywhere." Joel Francis Guinto, "Bomb Blasts Rock Davao, General Santos, Makati," Philippine Daily Inquirer, February 14, 2005.

3. "Cache of Bomb Chemicals Seized in Manila Warehouse," Agence France Presse, May 3, 2005.

4. See ... op3.html.-

5. Marites D. Vitug and Glenda M. Gloria, Under the Crescent Moon: Rebellion in Mindanao, Quezon City: Ataneo Center for Social Policy and Public Affairs and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, 2000, p. 2.

6. For more on the Islamic International Brigade, see Peter Bergen, Holy War Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden, New York: The Free Press, 2002.

7. The Moro National Liberation Front was founded in 1972 by Nur Misuari. It was the largest of the Muslim secessionist movements and in its heyday had considerable state sponsorship from the Libyan and Malaysian governments, in particular from the governor of Sabah, Tun Mustapha. In 1976 the Libyan government brokered a peace accord between the GRP and MNLF, but it was poorly implemented, and fighting quickly resumed. In 1978, a faction led by Salamat Hashim broke away from Misuari, whom they accused of being too secular. The offshoot was formally founded as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 1984.

8. National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), "Briefing on Al Harakat al Islamiya (AHAI)," No date given, p. 6.

9. 9/11 Commission Report, New York: WW Norton, 2004, p. 58.

10. Ramzi Yousef and his uncle, the 9/11 mastermind, were not members of al Qaeda at the time. The 9/11 Commission Report describes them as " ... rootless but experienced operatives who -- though not necessarily formal members of someone else's organization -- were traveling around the world and joining in projects that were supported by or linked to bin Ladin, the Blind Sheikh, or their associates." The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 59. For more on Ramzi Yousef and the Bojinka plot, see Philippines National Police, "After Operations Report," 1995.

11. Edwin Angeles (aka Yusuf Ibrahim) fought the Soviets in Afghanistan. Following his return to the Philippines in 1991, he was captured by PNP/AFP elements, and recruited to serve as a double agent for the government. He was released and rejoined the ASG, but was killed soon after, most likely by the ASG.

12. Donald G. McNeil, Jr., "Belgium Seeks Arms Deals With Suspected Qaeda Ties," New York Times, February 2002, p. 27.

13. NICA, "Briefing on Al Harakat al Islamiya," no date given, p. 3.

14. Ibid.

15. For more on Khalifa's financial network, see Zachary Abuza, Funding Terrorism in Southeast Asia: The Financial Network of al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah, NBR Analysis, Vol. 14, No. 5, Seattle: The National Bureau of Asian Research, December 2003, pp. 26- 28.

16. The IIRO actually was established in 1978, but co-opted in 1979 by Saudi Arabian intelligence in order to serve as a financial conduit for Saudi, U.S., and Gulf-state funding to the Mujiheddin in Afghanistan. Through the 1980s, the IIRO legitimized itself and grew. It now has more than 30 offices, and its activities cover more than 75 countries. In the early 1990s, the IIRO decided to have separate directors for each of the countries, and Khalifa became the IIRO director for the Philippines. The IIRO claims to have begun charitable work in the Philippines in 1988, but according to documents registered at the Philippine Securities Exchange Commission (PSEC), the IIRO was legally incorporated in the Philippines on September 20, 1991, with offices in Makati and in several cities in Mindanao, including Cotabato and Zamboanga. Khalifa was listed as the IIRO's president and chairman of the board of trustees. Based on IIRO documents at the PSEC, Khalifa was one of five incorporators who signed the documents of registration; another was Khalifa's wife, Alice "Jameelah" Yabo. Dr. Adnan Khalil Basha, "Largest Islamic Relief Organization Maligned," Letter to the Editor, Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 2000, p.18; Christine Herrera, "Gemma Linked to Bin Laden Group Funding Sayyaf, MILF," Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 10, 2000.

17. Mark Lander, "US Advisors May Aid Philippine Anti-Terror Effort," New York Times, October 11, 2001, p. B4.

18. Basha, "Largest Islamic Relief Organization Maligned."

19. "Bin Ladin's In-Law Responds to New York Times Report on Terrorist Links," AI Sharq al-Awsat, London, May 2002, p. 4, in Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS)-NES, May 5, 2002, p. 6.

20. Ibid., p. 7

21. Christine Herrera, "Bin Laden Funds Abu Sayyaf Through Muslim Relief Group," Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 9, 2000.

22. Ibid.

23. Ibid.

24. For more on Ramzi Yousef and the Bojinka plot, see The 9/11 Commission Report, p. 147; Philippines National Police, "After Operations Report," 1995.

25. Philippine National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, NICA, "Briefing on AI Harakat al Islamiya," p. 5.

26. "Government Junks Abu Demand to Free Bandit Leader For Americans," Philippine Daily Inquirer, October 2001.

27. See U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) Fact Sheet, "Abu Sayyaf History," March 5, 2002, at

28. For more on the Libyan payment of ransoms, see Seth Maydans, "Libyan Aid Helps to Free Hostages Held in the PhiIippines," The New York Times, October 21, 2001; and Deidre Sheehan, "Buying Trouble," Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), September 2000, p. 7.

29. Carlos Conde, "Muslim Cleric Confirms bin Laden Visit to Mindanao," Philippine Daily Inquirer.

30. Cited in Jose Torres Jr., Into the Mountain: Hostaged by the Abu Sayyaf, Quezon City: Claretian Publications, 2001, p. 41.

31. Interview with Philippine Information Agency journalist, Cotabato, January 9, 2002.

32. USPACOM FactSheet," Abu Sayyaf History," March 5, 2002, at

33. Rajiv Chandrasekaran, "Rebel's Escape Draws Scrutiny," Washington Post, September 1, 2001.

34. See ... rategy.pdf.

35. See

36. For more on U.S. military operations in the Philippines, see Andrew Feickert, "U.S. Military Operations in the Global War on Terrorism: Afghanistan, Africa, the Philippines, and Colombia," CRS report for Congress, February 4, 2005, pp.9-12.

37. The author would like to thank John Dacey for making this point.

38. In 2004, the AFP had 10 functioning helicopters, down from 80 in the 1980s. Of its three C-13 cargo planes, only one was operational, the other two were cannibalized for spare parts. Andrew Spaeth, "Under the Gun," Time-Asian Edition, May 9, 2005.

39. In 2003, an independent commission examining the Oakwood Mutiny drafted the Feliciano Report on the state of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and found that approximately 30 percent of the procurement budget was embezzled. Currently Major General Carlos Garcia, the former logistics comptroller, is on trial for corruption. He allegedly amassed more than $1 million.

40. Marco Garrido, "After Madrid, Manila?" Asia Times, April 24, 2004.

41. The special panel created by the government, the Maniwang Commission, cleared senior MILF leaders of the bombings at the Davao International Airport and Sasa Wharf. The Maniwang Commission issued its findings on March 25, 2004. Government officials have linked several JI members, who were trainers at MILF camps and are now held in custody in Malaysia, to the bombings. "Prosecutor to MILF on Davao Bombings: Face Trial," MindaNews, June 1, 2004.

42. Jainal Antel Sali (aka Abu Sulaiman) first claimed responsibility for the SuperFerry 14 bombing, though it was perpetrated by Redondo Cain Dellosa (aka Arnulfo Alvarado).

43. Four other cell members were arrested that month. The four-man cell claimed it was responsible for the February SuperFerry bombing. They were captured with 36kg of explosives. One of the four was identified as al-Hamsed Manatad Limbong (aka Kosovo), a second cousin of Khadaffy Janajalani, who was implicated in the 2002 Zamboanga bombing that killed a U.S. servicemen and in the beheading of an American tourist, Guillermo Sobero, in 2001. The other three suspects were Redendo Cain Delosa, Abdusaid Lim (aka Abu Khalifa), and Radsamar Sangkula. Juiet Labog-Javellana, et al., "Metro Bomb Plot Foiled; 4 Abu Men Nabbed," Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 30, 2004.

44. Interview with a Philippine NICA officer, Quezon City, September 15, 2004. Further evidence that the ASG was planning more attacks on ferries came on June 1, when Philippine naval intelligence officers arrested Alzhezar Salappudin Jila in Jolo, Sulu, with a cache of various explosives. "The raid [on Jila] was conducted based on a report from an informant saying the [Abu Sayyaf Group] will bomb the fast craft Water Jet of Alleson Shipping Lines, which plies the Zamboanga-Jolo route," said a Navy spokesman. Among the items seized from Jila were an 81-mm rifle, 42 pieces of dynamite, a half-gallon of high explosive powder, and assorted components of improvised explosive devices, along with documents in Arabic writing and electronic equipment. Jila admitted in his interrogation that his group was behind four bombings in Sulu Island since December which left four people dead, and authorities believe that he was also responsible for the 2002 bombing in Zamboanga in which an American soldier was killed.

45. Simon Elegant, "The Return of the Abu Sayyaf," Time-Asian Edition, August 30, 2003.

46. Karl B. Kaufman and Johnathan Vicente, "3 Held in Plot to Bomb U.S. Embassy," Manila Times, October 2004, p. 22; Jaime Laude, " AFP: JI Plot to Bomb U.S. Embassy Foiled," The Philippine Star, Philippine Star, October 2004, p. 22.

47. The three leaders were Nadzmie Sadual (aka Commander Global), Alhamser Manatad Limbong (aka Commander Kosovo), and Ghalib Andang (aka Commander Robot). The standoff took place at Camp Bagong Diwa Prison after the ASG members had weapons smuggled in. Three guards were killed. " Abu Sayyaf, Very Much Alive, Threaten Retaliation for Bloody Prison Assault," Associated Press, AP, March 2005, p. 15.

48. Donna Pazzibugan, "10 Sacks of Explosives Seized," Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 24, 2005.

49. Manny Mogato, "Philippine Army Says Finds Bombs for Easter Attacks," Reuters, March 23, 2005.

50. "Reward Offered for Hinolan's Attacker," The Manila Times Internet Edition, November 16, 2004; "Suspected Abu Sayyaf Gunmen Abduct Doctor in Sulu," Philippine Daily Inquirer, November 22, 2004; "Philippine Government Official Dies in Suspected Abu Sayyaf Attack," Deutsche Presse-Agenteur, December 12, 2004; Julie Alipala, "Sayaff Men Abduct, Execute 3 Salesmen from Pampanga," Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 11, 2005.

51. Cited in Garrido.

52. Interview with a senior Philippine NICA official Quezon City June 28 2004.

53. Khadaffy is roughly 30 years old, the youngest of five children. Khadaffy conducted Islamic studies in Marawi City, Mindanao, before traveling to Pakistan and later an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. He is married to Sherma, his first cousin and the daughter of Ustadz Hussein Manatad, one of the religious directors of the Tabuk Mosque in Isabela, Basilan.

54. "An Update of the Recent Bombing in Mindanao and Metro Manila," November 25, 2002, p. 12.

55. Interview with a Philippines NICA officer, San Juan, Manila, July 1, 2004.

56. Elegant.

57. Interview with Eid Kabalu, MILF spokesman, Cotabato, January 9, 2002.

58. Ibid.

59. "An Update of the Recent Bombing in Mindanao and Metro Manila," November 25, 2002.

60. Philippine NICA, "Summary of Information: Umar Faruq," no date provided.

61. Romesh Ratnesar, "Confessions of an Al Qaida Terrorist," Time, September 16, 2002; BIN Interrogation Report of Omar al-Faruq, June 2002.

62. Edris was the individual who escaped from Camp Crame, Manila with JI member Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi, who was killed in Pigkawayan, North Cotabato. International Crisis Group, p. 22.

63. Important founding members of the MILF-SOG include Muchlas Syafullah Yunos and Basit Usman.

64. "An Update of the Recent Bombing in Mindanao and Metro Manila," November 25, 2002.

65. Abdul Manap Mentang said that the MILF members Rahman Camili (aka Barok) and Rio Manamba (aka Bobot) planted the bombs at the Davao airport and Sasa wharf respectively. The two were arrested in November 2004.

66. The two, along with Mentang's girlfriend, Monawara Usop, were the plotters of the attack on the U.S. Embassy. Marichu Villanueva and Jaime Laude, "Palace Updates 'Order of Battle' Versus Terrorists," Philippine Star, October 24, 2004; AFP, "Australians Warned of Terrorist Threats in the Philippines," October 23, 2004.

67. Ben Tesiorna, "2 More Davao Bombers Nabbed in Davao Norte," Sun-Star, November 19, 2004.

68. Camp Hudaibiyah was the portion of the MILF base, Camp Abu Bakar es Siddique, that was given to al Qaeda trainers and their JI students. Some MILF members were also trained in these classes. This class also included Sammy Abdulghani. Jaime Laude, "AFP: JI Plot to Bomb U.S. Embassy Foiled," Philippine Star, October 2004, p. 22.

69. Interview with a senior NICA official, Quezon City, March 3, 2005.

70. The 103rd Base Command is under the leadership of Abdulaziz Mimbintas, the Vice Chairman for Military Affairs of the MILF.

71. Jaime Laude and Christina Mendez, "2 Abu Suspects Tagged in V-Day Blasts Arrested," Philippine Star, February 23, 2005; Alcuin Papa and Christian Esguerra, "2 Bombing Suspects Fall," Philippine Daily Inquirer, February 23, 2005.

72. He did not know their names, but their aliases were aka Ian and aka Khatan.

73. Statement of Admiral William I. Fallon, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, Before the Senate Armed Services Committee, March 8, 2005, at ... -08-05.pdf.

74. Interview with Major General Raul Reylano, Commander, 6th Infantry Division, Awang, Maguindanao, March 10, 2005. For more on the sorry state of the AFP, see Andrew Spaeth, "Under the Gun," Time-Asian Edition, May 9, 2005.

75. The author would like to thank John Dacey for making this point.

76. Interview with a Philippine NICA officer, San Juan, Manila, July 1, 2004.

77. Bantay Ceasefire, p. 23. Operation THUNDERSTORM was launched in mid-October 2002 after the AFP learned that 600-700 MILF and ASG were massing in Lanao del Norte. Some 200 were from the Zamboanga peninsula.

78. Interview with Ghazali Jafaar, Vice Chairman for Political Affairs, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, June 17, 2004.

79. Interview with a senior AFP commander, 6th Infantry Division, Camp Siongco, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, September 21, 2004.

80. The Malaysian government has exerted considerable pressure on the MILF to "expel ASG in their midst."

81. The author would like to thank John Dacey for making that point.

82. "Abu Sayyaf Warns MILF Against Forging Peace with Gov't," Philippine Daily Inquirer, February 8, 2005.

83. Tondok is reportedly the new head of the 106th Base Command; though some reports suggest that he replaced Umbra Kato as the 109th Base Commander who, in turn, replaced Samir as the 106th Base Commander.

84. Interview with Major General Raul Reylano, Commander 6th Infantry Battalion, Awang, Maguindanao, March 10, 2005.

85. Ibid.

86. Despite AFP claims that Dulmatin was killed, there was neither evidence to prove that, nor verification of his presence. Another JI operative, Rohmat (aka Zaki), who was wounded in the attack stated that Dulmatin was still alive. Isnilon Hapilon and his dozen or so bodyguards/combatants are believed to be based in the Mt. Dagadabi area, between the 104th and 105th Base Commands.

87. Manny Mogato, "Philippine Army Says Finds Bombs for Easter Attacks," Reuters, March 23, 2005.

88. Ibid.

89. Eid Kabalu, the MILF spokesman, asserted that, "There is a policy statement from the MILF leadership for all members to turn their backs on other groups. ... We are categorically denying that we will stage attacks. We are focused on the peace talks." "MILF Denies Terror Plan Anew," AFP, March 24, 2005.

90. "Separatist Rebels Met Arab Pair, Say Former Captives," South China Morning Post, October 15, 2001.

91. Torres, Into the Mountain, p. 34.

92. Philippine National Police, "The Threat of Terrorism and PNP Countermeasures," undated, pp. 6-7.

93. "An Update of the Recent Bombing in Mindanao and Metro Manila," November 25, 2002.

94. Interrogation of Nassir bin Abbas. Nassir claimed to have trained 540 militants a year until early 1998 at MILF camps.

95. Zulkifli was captured in September 2003 while trying to surreptitiously enter Malaysia's Sabah state from the Sulu archipelago in the Philippines. He was captured with five other JI members. Though the Malaysian government announced this arrest, they did not disclose the fact that there were two additional Middle Eastern operatives with them. One is believed to be an al Qaeda operative while the other confessed to being a member of the Tabliqh.

96. ICG, p. 22.

97. Interrogation of Nassir bin Abbas.

98. Rohmat was a senior trainer and one of JI's top liaisons to the ASG in Mindanao. He was implicated in funding bombings in General Santos (2002), Zamboanga (2002), Cotabato (2003), Tucurong (2003), Davao (2003), and Parang (2004). Jim Gomez, "Terror Suspect Details Training, Plots," AP, March 23, 2005.

99. Three suspects, Bernard Balinao, Romy Ksaim, and Bai Hairan Paglala, were arrested in Tacurong City on May 6, 2002. The police asserted that they were "all members of the MNLF and MILF" and that they also were "linked to the ... Abu Sayyaf." See

100. Abdul Jabidi and another operative, Sammy Abdulghani, were believed to be very close to a local MILF commander, Abdul Kitogoi Icow.

101. Jeff Antiporda and Anthony Vargas, "Terrorist Trainer Nabbed," Manila Times, March 23, 2005; Philippine National Police, "The Threat of Terrorism and PNP Countermeasures," undated, p. 7.

102. ABS-CBN News, ... toryId=128.

103. Interrogation Report on Taufiq Riefqi (aka Zammy) stated he arrived in the Philippines sometime in April 2000 and is presently an instructor of religion at Camp Jabal Quba.

104. Philippine National Police, "The Threat of Terrorism and PNP Counter measures," undated, p. 7.

105. Jim Gomez, "Terror Suspect Details Training, Plots," AP, March 23, 2005.

106. Rohmat has confirmed that he was present. Jaime Laude, " AFP: JI Plot to Bomb U.S. Embassy Foiled," Philippine Star, October 22, 2004; Jim Gomez, "Terror Suspect Details Training, Plots," AP, March 23, 2005; Joel Francis Guinto" Abu Sayyaf Planned Bombings in metro, Key Cities JI Member," Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 23, 2005.

107. At first, Ted Yolanda was described as a Malaysian. The other two Indonesians were Mohamed Naasir Hamid and Mohamad Yusuf Karin Faiz (aka Pais). Faiz was a student at Ngruki in Java for 4 years in the early to mid-1990s, though he did not graduate. In 2001 he attended Ibn Saud University in Saudi Arabia. The ASG member, a Balik-Islam convert, was Muhair dela Merced. The group was arrested in Zamboanga, having entered the country through Tawi Tawi. The group was caught with US$7,000, 10 terrorist manuals, al Qaeda VCDs, and other materials. The four were on their way to MILF camps in Mindanao to conduct training. According to head of PNP Intelligence Chief Superintendent Ismael Rafnan, "They were planning to go into car bombs. They have reached that level of sophistication. They are ready to do it." Cited in Joel Francis Guinto, "Car Bomb Attacks Foiled as JI, Abu Terror Suspects Fall," Philippine Daily Inquirer, February 24, 2005.

108. Eva C. Komandjaja, "Police Search for Two JI Members in Philippines," The Jakarta Post, August 16, 2005.

109. Jim Gomez, "Terror Suspect Details Training, Plots," AP, March 23, 2005.

110. I.e., individuals who joined the organization in the mid-1990s, before the JI began their public campaign of bombings in August 2000.

111. On March 4, 2005, the Philippine daily, Malaya, published the names of 21 Indonesian JI members who had entered the country on January 21, 2005, for training in MILF camps in Lanao del Sur. The names were leaked to them by an intelligence official. According to the paper, 26 arrived in two groups, the first on January 21, the second on January 28. They included Anwar Narsid, Sahibon Gulam, Farhan Jiahod, Zia Autad, Gafor Wadood, Omar Amiril, Farnan Dawalis, Ishaq Buday, Zainal Mandaya, Hashim Mufri, Watani Azibul, Farouk Rajab, Burnhan Usungan, Nur Salih, Jazali Mauladie, Hesam Abul Guimadil Mojib, and Habib Taloot. The paper asserts that the group transited Sabah state, where they were provided safe quarters by the MILF representative, Ismael Haraiba. They traveled to Palimbang before transiting to MILF camps in Lanao del Sur. There is no way to validate this list. It is likely drawn from immigration records in Zamboanga. "26 Indons in Lanao for Terrorist Training," Malaya, March 4, 2005.

112. Interview with a Senior NICA official, Quezon City, March 3, 2005.

113. "Al-Qaeda Financier for Abu Sayyaf Arrested in Philippines," Sun-Star, May 14, 2004.

114. Ibid.

115. Alcuin Papa, "Bin Laden Man in RP Captured," Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 15, 2004. There had been a warrant for Mundus' arrest in connection with bombing operations carried out by the Abu Sayyaf, in Kidapawan City on October 10, 2002, and the other in General Santos City on July 8, 2001.

116. Ibid.

117. Interview with an Armed Forces of the Philippines Intelligence Service (AFP-IS) official, Awang, March 4, 2005.

118. He was arrested on January 17, 2005, in Zamboanga and deported on January 18. This reportedly was ordered by President Arroyo herself, who was under pressure from the Saudi Arabian ambassador.

119. For example, of the five people who have now been arrested in conjunction with the Valentine's Day bombing, only Khalil Trinidad was known to the police. He had been arrested previously and charged with possession of explosives, but had skipped bail.

120. Rommel Banlaoi, "Leadership Dynamics in Terrorist Organizations in Southeast Asia: The Abu Sayyaf Case," paper presented to The Leadership and Structure of Terrorist Threats in Southeast Asia, Kuala Lumpur, April 18-20, 2005, p.3.

121. Ibid.

122. Rustico O. Guerrero, "Philippine Terrorism and Insurgency: What to Do about the Abu Sayyaf," Master's Thesis, U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College, 2002.

123. Banlaoi, "Leadership Dynamics in Terrorist Organizations in Southeast Asia: The Abu Sayyaf Case," p. 5.

124. According to Lieutenant Colonel Guerrero, the ASG's "central committee in Basilan, the highest governing body, is under the supervision of Isnilon Hapilon (aka Tuan Isnilon). It has six functional and one special staff. These are Personnel and Operations, Urban Demolitionist and Intelligence, Logistics/Supply/Budget, Finance, Liaison, and Medical. Hector Janjalani heads the special staff." This overstates the group's organization even in its heyday. See "Philippine Terrorism and Insurgency: What to Do about the Abu Sayyaf."

125. Despite Malacanang's call for the AFP and intelligence services to draw up a new "order of battle" in October 2004, nothing has been completed or publicly released. Marichu Villanueva and Jaime Laude, "Palace Updates 'Order of Battle' Versus Terrorists," Philippine Star, October 24, 2004.

126. Interview with a senior Philippine NICA official, Quezon City, March 3, 2005.

127. "An Update of the Recent Bombing in Mindanao and Metro Manila," November 25, 2002.

128. Cited in Joel Francis Guinto, "Car Bomb Attacks Foiled as JI, Abu Terror Suspects Fall," Philippine Daily Inquirer, February 24, 2005.

129. Elegant, "Terror, Visible," Time Asia Edition, March 28, 2005.

130. Prof. Moner M" Bajunaid, "The Concept of Jihad," posted on at ... _jihad.htm.

131. For more, see Zachary Abuza, "Out of the Woodwork: Islamist Militants in Aceh," February 8, 2005. A brief version of the paper can be found in the Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor, Vol. 3, No. 2, January 27, 2005, available at ... id=2369164.

132. Syed Azhar, "Ex-KMM Member to Start Anew," The Star, March 25, 2005.

133. Interview with a Philippine NICA officer, Cotabato, March 7, 2005. The Lakar Jundullah's founder and JI shura member, Agus Dwikarna, is currently imprisoned in the Philippines. Dwikarna was also a leader of Abu bakar Ba'asyir's Mujiheddin Council of Indonesia (MMI), as well as the South Sulawesi branch officer of both the Indonesian charity Kompak and the Saudi Arabian charity, Al Harramain. For more, see International Crisis Group, Indonesia Backgrounder: Jihad in Central Sulawesi, February 3, 2004; Zachary Abuza, Funding Terrorism in Southeast Asia: The Financial Network of al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah, NBR Analysis, Vol. 14, No. 5, Seattle: The National Bureau of Asian Research, December 2003, p. 28-34.

134. See ... le&sid=341.

135. Ibid.

136. "Balik," literally "return." Islamic groups refer to the Muslim concept that all people are born Muslim; and that in their life they might stray, i.e., join another religion. Balik Islam groups are simply missionary organizations. Balik Islam organizations in the Philippines began in Mindanao, especially with hill tribes, but have since spread to Luzon and Manila. Muslim press organs claim that there have been 1 million converts. There are now nearly 10 million Muslims, about 7-8 percent of the total population, making Islam the fastest growing religion in the Philippines. Though many individuals converted while working as overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the Middle East, Balik Islam networks have been proliferating.

137. Luis Q. Lacar, "Balik Islam: Christian Converts to Islam in the Philippines, c. 1970-98," Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Vol. 12, No. 1, January 2001, pp. 39-60, esp. n4, 57.

138. Interview with a PNP-IS official, Makati, June 27, 2002.

139. Banlaoi, "Leadership Dynamics in Terrorist Organizations in Southeast Asia: The Abu Sayyaf Case," p. 9.

140. Ibid.

141. Since February 2, 1998, Humoud Mohammad Abdulaziz al-Lahim was also the IIRO's director. ISCAG was established in the mid- 1990s in Saudi Arabia by a group of primarily Balik Islam converts who were working in the Kingdom. The movement grew considerably when the founders returned home. It established a headquarters in Dasmarinas, Cavite; a 1.6 hectare compound with an elementary school, medical clinic and apartment block. The project was funded in part by Saudi donations and from the Islamic Development Bank. ISCAG is currently headed by Nooh Caparino. It is engaged in both propagation (da'wah) for Balik Islam converts as well as Muslim "backsliders." ISCAG buys blocks of time on local radio stations for its da'wah programming, as well as making prison and house visits. ISCAG claims to have won back some 1,387 reverts between January 2000 to June 2003. The organization clearly maintains its ties to Saudi Arabia. ISCAG's annual budget is approximately P12 million ($240,000), though that does not include funding for schools, hospitals, or mosques. ISCAG has funded the construction of six mosques around the country; at a cost of roughly P4 million each ($80,000). ISCAG also pays for the education of the children of many MILF leaders. Al-Lahim was forced out of the Philippines on April 7, 2002, due to allegations of sponsoring terrorism, and is currently based in Saudi Arabia, where he continues to fundraise for ISCAG. For more see, Marites Dafiguilan Vitug, "The New Believers," Newsbreak, May 27, 2002; Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, "Troubled Return of the Faithful," imagazine, on line, Vol. IX, No. 2, April-June 2003; Johnna Villaviray, "Muslims Identify With 'Terrorist' Ideals," Manila Times, November 192003; and ISCAG's website, ...

142. The Islamic Information Center (IIC) was led by a Jordanian citizen Nedal Falah Awwad al-Dhalain who first came to the Philippines in July 1995. Based in Makati, the IIC is another da'wah group that purports to be a library and resource center that receives "financial and moral support" from "generous brothers." The organization, like ISCAG, divides its operations between Balik Islam efforts and activities geared toward fellow Muslims. They engage in prison visits and distribute massive amounts of literature. For example, in 2000 alone, they "printed 90,000 books and pamphlets, and distributed 4,570 pieces of Islamic literature, 307 copies of the Koran in English, and thousands of cassette tapes in lecture form." There was considerable overlap in membership with Fi Sibilillah. lI- Dhalain was forced out of the country on October 27, 2001, on suspicion of supporting terrorism. The ICC remains open; their website is

143. See ... 3top3.html.

144. Anthony Vargas, "SuperFerry Bomb Suspect Tipped PNP About Attacks," Manila Times, February 17, 2005.

145. Anthony Vargas, "PNP Hunting 40 Balik Islam with Abu Sayyaf Ties," Manila Times, December 24, 2004.

146. This was the name of Jaybe Ofrasio's brother. Kymina Lyall, "Filipino Held in Belfast Wanted for Helping JI," The Australian, February 6, 2004.

147. Donna Pazzibugan, "10 Sacks of Explosives Seized," Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 24, 2005.

148. Interview with a Philippine NICA officer, Quezon City, September 15, 2004.

149. For more on this, see Benny Bacani, "The Mindanao Peace Talks: Another Opportunity to Resolve the Moro Conflict in the Philippines," U.S. Institute of Peace Special Report 131, January 2005,

150. See, Zachary Abuza, "The MILF at 20," unpublished paper, October 2004.

151. Interview with Aboud Syed Lingga, Cotabato, January 2004.

152. See excerpted minutes from the July 30-31 meeting of the Central Committee.

153. Interview with Atty. Michael Mastura, Cotabato, January 7, 2004.

154. Interview with a member of the MILF-CCCH-Secretariat, Cotabato, January 12, 2004.

155. Interview with a MILF political officer, Cotabato, January 16, 2004.

156. Interview with a member of the MILF-CCCH-Secretariat, Cotabato.

157 Elegant.

158. Cited in Ibid.

159. Carlos Conde, "Violence in the Philippines Tangles Terrorism Fight," International Herald Tribulle, February 15, 2005; Anthony Spaeth, "Southern Exposure," Time-Asian Edition, February 21, 2005.

160. "Abu Sayyaf Is Not in Sulu Clashes, MNLF Says,", February 14, 2005, at ... le&sid=295.

161. Already 65-75 percent of Philippine ground troops are based in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago. Yet resources are scarce enough that major offensives in one area often preclude concurrent offensives in other regions.

162. In March 2005, for example, Philippine authorities arrested a Palestinian national for allegedly training ASG members. See Joel Francis Guinto,"Palestinian Held in RP over Links with Abu Sayyaf," Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 31, 2005; "Suspected Palestinian Terror Trainer Arrested in Zambo," AP, March 31, 2005.

163. "Cache of Bomb Chemical Seized in Manila Warehouse," AFP, May 3, 2005.

164. Ma. Theresa Torres, "MILF Not A Terror Group, Says GMA," Manila Times, April 2, 2005; "RP Rejects U.S. Warning on 'New Afghanistan' Tag on Mindanao," AFP, April 11, 2005.

165. Jim Gomez, "Philippines Asks U.S. to Keep Group Off Terror List," AP, March 30, 2005.

166. See, for example, the comments of Joseph Mussomelli in "Mindanao Could Be Next Afghanistan: U.S. Diplomat," AFP, April 11, 2005.

167. Ibid. The expected Philippine rejection of Mussomeli's comments can be found in "RP Rejects U.S. Warning on 'New Afghanistan' Tag on Mindanao," AFP, April 11, 2005.

168. "US: MILF Tied To 2 Al-Qaeda Outfits," AFP, April 1, 2005.

169. Ma. Theresa Torres, "MILF Not A Terror Group, Says GMA," Manila Times, April 2, 2005.

170. "Mindanao Could Be Next Afghanistan: U.S. Diplomat," AFP, April 11, 2005.

171. "US to Back GMA in Fight Versus MILF Renegades," The Philippine Star, January 25, 2005.

172. Eric Schmidt, "U.S. Combat Force of 1,700 is Headed to the Philippines," New York Times, February 22, 2003.

173. For example, the Mindanao People's Causus statement, in which they warned "Various U.S. officials have been harping on this point -- MILF ties with foreign terrorist groups -- since last month. It seems that there is ground laying, testing the waters, getting the public pulse, for greater U.S. interventions in the military sphere." See MindaNews, April 12, 2005, for the full statement,

174. Social Weather Survey,"Ratings of High Officials Tumble: Net Satisfaction with GMA Falls to -12," March 30, 2005, at

175. Pulse Asia, "Media Release on Quality of Life, Urgent Concerns and PGMA Performance," March 30, 2005, p. 2.

176. Ibid., p. 4.

177. Ibid., p. 6.
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