Friday, September 21, 2012

Khaddafi Janjalani.

March 27, 2000, BusinessWorld, Basilan governor, AFP deny part in abductions,
March 28, 2000, BusinessWorld, Gov't backs down on Abu Sayyaf,
March 30, 2000, BusinessWorld, DND downplays foreign aid to Abu Sayyaf, Cathy Rose A. Garcia,
April 4, 2000, Inquirer, p.1, Vigilantes threaten to kill Sayyaf chief's family, [cont. p.7]
April 4, 2000, BusinessWorld, Committee to grant Abu Sayyaf demands on talks,
April 7, 2000, Inquirer, p.1, Janjalani's wife, daughter freed,
April 14, 2000, BusinessWorld, Abu Sayyaf seen to free Basilan hostages, Garcia, Cathy Rose A.
May 17, 2000, BusinessWorld, Government troops relax cordon around Abu Sayyaf Patikul hideout in Jolo,
August 22, 2000, BusinessWorld, Editorial: To Take A Stand: War without end,
August 14, 2001, BusinessWorld, Shifting venue eyed for ASG trial,
January 6, 2002, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Turning another page for Basilan,
January 28, 2002, BBC Reports, Philippines: Sister appeals for US hostages' release
March 10, 2002, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Vigilante justice,
March 21, 2002, BBC Reports, Philippines: Muslim rebel claims to be only negotiator recognized by Abu...
May 31, 2002, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Bandits say $5-M reward boosts their egos,
June 29, 2002, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Gov't takes war to Abu Sayyaf turf.
July 12, 2002, BusinessWorld, Newspoint, by Vergel O. Santos,
July 30, 2002, South China Morning Post, Rebels down to 200 men following US-aided exercises, says...
August 29, 2002, The Philippine Star, "Talks over; AFP launches assault 'with no mercy' in Sulu",
August 30, 2002, Gulf News, Abu Sayyaf leader killed in Basilan. by Barbara Mae Dacanay/Al Jacinto,
October 4, 2002, South China Morning Post, Abu Sayyaf bomber killed US soldier, says Philippine military,
October 9, 2002, BusinessWorld, Abu Sayyaf shifting to urban terrorism - SouthCom chief.
October 12, 2002, Manila Standard, Schilling tags Janjalani, Sabaya in kidnap,
Nov. 15, 2002, China Morning Post, Bereaved coroner is on a personal crusade to avenge his son's murder,
November 25, 2002, Philippine Inquirer, Navy intelligence says 2 Sayyaf leaders want to acquire passports,
May 10, 2003, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Kabalu confirms hostages' stay in MILF camp,
July 12, 2003, Borneo Bulletin, Brunei: Arroyo audience with investment groups cancelled,
July 27, 2003, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Military, police deny Al-Ghozi in their hands,
October 14, 2003, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 'We walked out casually as if we were policemen',
November 25, 2003, BBC Reports, Philippines: Wanted Abu Sayyaf leader wounded - military official,
March 8, 2004, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Janjalani: From ASG to BCJ, by Christian Esguerra,
March 13, 2004, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Ferry fire witness says it was like New Year,
April 7, 2004, South China Morning Post, Payback time for Abu Sayyaf kidnap victim, by Raissa Robles,
April 7, 2004, Philippine Daily Inquirer, US wants Abu suspect extradited for kidnap-slay,
April 17, 2004, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Give the mayors power over police,
November 8, 2004, BusinessWorld, Foreign national kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf dead - MILF,
November 22, 2004, Gulf News, More join hunt for the elusive Abu Sayyaf chief,
February 12, 2005, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Abu Sayyaf chief's aide falls,
February 18, 2005, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Religious scholar, actor-to-be lead rebels,
April 23, 2006, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Abu chieftain ordered Jolo co-op bombing,
April 29, 2006, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Cops deny they're scaring protesters,
August 29, 2006, BBC Reports, Abu Sayyaf chief, Jemaah Islamiyah militants avoid Philippine military.
August 29, 2006, The Philippine Star, Janjalani, JI suspects escape to Basilan,
September 20, 2006, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Breeding new fighters in Sulu,
October 20, 2006, The Philippine Star, Philippine president orders deployment of more troops to Sulu.
June 3, 2009, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Top AFP execs pocketing bulk of rewards, says prof,
June 7, 2009, Philippine Daily Inquirer, US to look into fund messes Kenney,
July 16, 2009, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Devt key to end conflict, says MNLF exec,
July 23, 2009, Philippine Daily Inquirer, GMAs roller-coaster ride with 4 insurgencies,

March 27, 2000, BusinessWorld, Basilan governor, AFP deny part in abductions, by Manolette C. Payumo, And Cathy Rose A. Garcia, 700+ words

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as well as the Basilan provincial government denied yesterday any involvement in the abduction of the relatives of Abu Sayyaf leader Khaddafi Janjalani.

Basilan governor Ustadz Wahab M. Akbar told a radio interview he has nothing to do with the abduction of Mr. Janjalani's mother and other relatives on March 24.

He said he will not resort to such just to put a stop to the Abu Sayyaf's terrorist activities in Mindanao, particularly in Basilan. On March 20, Abu Sayyaf members abducted more than 40 school teachers and students in two Basilan towns.

"I will not resort to that kind of dirty tactic just to get even with the Abu Sayyaf Group," he told a radio interview.

The Abu Sayyaf reportedly believes Mr. Akbar is behind the abduction of 10 Janjalani relatives.

Meanwhile, AFP chief of staff General Angelo T. Reyes also denied military involvement in the Janjalani abductions. He also said that once the military confirms reports on the incident, it will immediately act on it.

The multi-sectoral Basilan Crisis Management Committee, which was created on Saturday to resolve the Abu Sayyaf's abductions of teachers and students, has said it will also take action against the abductors of Mr. Janjalani's relatives.

The crisis committee is composed of Basilan provincial officials and representatives from the AFP, Philippine National Police, Department of Justice, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and Department of Education Culture and Sports.

The Abu Sayyaf reportedly does not have any leads on who might have abducted Mr. Janjalani's family members. Also, it reportedly wants to settle that matter before it releases its remaining hostages.

The police reported that six unidentified armed men forcibly entered the Janjalani residence in Bgy. Tabuk, Isabela, Basilan, and then abducted them.

Those abducted were Vilma Janjalani, Suraida Hanasin, Narina Lain, Celma Manatad, Casam Manatad, Atica Abdurasid, Akmad Abdurasid, Akamtiar Abdurasid, Kanima Jalmarani and Tasnin Jalmarani.

The police also reported that prior to the abduction, some relatives of Abu Sayyaf hostages "were monitored planning to retaliate in a form of abduction of Abu Sayyaf relatives and then conduct a bargaining of captives."

Mr. Janjalani reportedly believes the Abu Sayyaf's release of 18 hostages-nine children, eight teachers and one parent-the day before yesterday would result in the release of his relatives.

The Abu Sayyaf is reportedly holding 33 more students and teachers. On March 20, it abducted 13 teachers and at least 50 students from Claret High School and East Elementary School in Sumisip, Basilan.

Later that day, it abducted 11 public school teachers from Sinangkapan National High School and Sinangkapan Elementary School in Bgy. Sinangkapan, Tuburan, Basilan.

Meanwhile, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said an "independent party" of negotiators with no affiliation with the government and the MILF must be formed for the government and the MILF to reach some form of understanding.

"We hope to have one independent panel to help in the peace process to have an understanding with the government because as of now we are confused as to what they really want," MILF vice-chairman for military affairs Al Haj Murad told a radio interview.

He added that MILF got all the more confused after President Estrada ordered an all-out war against Moro rebels in the midst of ongoing peace negotiations.

"The President's declaration of an all-out war against us was unexpected. They wanted to have a peace talk but they are doing otherwise. What do they expect us to do?" he said.

Mr. Murad claims the government is violating the cease-fire. This prompts him to question the government's sincerity in talking peace.

"They criticize us of violating the cease-fire when in fact we are the ones on the defensive side," he added.

Meanwhile, government troops killed 10 MILF rebels in separate encounters in Lanao del Norte on March 24, a military report shows.

The Armed Forces Southern Command based in Zamboanga City, in its report, said soldiers clashed with about 200 MILF fighters while pursuing Moro rebels which occupied the Kauswagan town hall on March 16. The clash lasted for almost two hours, after which Moro rebels withdrew, the report states.

Meanwhile, troops belonging to the 4th Scout Ranger Company killed three MILF rebels during a raid on their hideout in Baloi, Lanao del Norte on March 23. Those slain were Lumir Sumangka, Osing Sumangka, and a certain Tahir.

At the same time, two platoons of soldiers under the 1st Division Reconnaissance Company clashed with MILF rebels at Tagoloan, Lanao del Norte.

In Manila, Malacanang said the military will continue to conduct patrol activities in Mindanao. In a statement, the Palace said military patrols will protect residents from possible abuses by Moro rebels.

Meanwhile, the military assured that Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) communities in Lanao del Norte "will be protected from terroristic acts" by the MILF. This was after MNLF leaders and representatives from the United Nations Development Program, which funds development projects in MNLF communities, expressed fear that hostilites in the province may disrupt projects and jeopardize the safety of MNLF members.

A ranking military official said "MNLF communities in Lanao del Norte will be spared from the fighting."

March 28, 2000, BusinessWorld, Gov't backs down on Abu Sayyaf, 444 words

The military has temporarily stopped its operations against members of the extremist Abu Sayyaf Group to pave the way for the release of the rebels' remaining 36 hostages.

Press Secretary Rodolfo T. Reyes yesterday told reporters in Malacanang the Basilan "crisis management committee" formed by the government to negotiate for the release of the remaining hostages is working hard to ensure the safe and early release of hostages, mostly children and school teachers.

"The military, on the other hand, is cooperating with the local crisis management committee to ensure a smooth negotiation for the release of the remaining kidnap victims," Mr. Reyes said.

He added although efforts to rescue the hostages are being pursued, the military has temporarily stopped its offensive operations.

"The military, while closely coordinating with the crisis management committee, momentarily stopped its search-and-rescue operations to pave the way for the release of the remaining hostages."

The Basilan crisis management committee was created by the provincial peace and order council, and is composed of Basilan vice-governor Abdulaziz Balamo chairman; Bishop Romulo Dela Cruz and Ustadz Said Balahim as co-chairmen.

His statement was echoed by National Security Adviser Alexander P. Aguirre who, in a Palace statement, said the military is taking precaution to ensure the safety of the hostages.

"We continue to operate against the Abu Sayyaf. But in this case, we cannot afford to undertake offensive operations because of the possible harm to the hostages," Mr. Aguirre said.

He said the government is doing everything to solve the kidnapping of the relatives of slain Abu Sayyaf leader Khadaffy Janjalani.

"Any kind of kidnapping has to be acted upon by the government and that is another problem. So we are doing almost the same action as we are doing with respect to the case of kidnapped teachers," Mr. Aguirre added.

April 4, 2000, BusinessWorld, Committee to grant Abu Sayyaf demands on talks, 317 words

The Basilan provincial crisis committee is ready to give in to the Abu Sayyaf's demand that a member of the Basilan Ulama council, a Claretian priest, and film actor Robin Padilla negotiate for its release of 32 hostages. Committee spokesman Chris Puno said yesterday the committee will finalize today the members of the negotiating panel, as per the demands of the Abu Sayyaf. "In a previous meeting, the Abu Sayyaf negotiator said the group wants an Ustadz of Basilan, a Claretian priest, and Robin Padilla for negotiations. We said we will be choosing who among the Ulama council would be able to go and negotiate. The same with the priest," Mr. Puno told radio interview. The Abu Sayyaf continues to hold 32 hostages, including a priest, in Sumisip, Basilan. Mr. Puno also said Mr. Padilla would be advised to negotiate with the Abu Sayyaf through telephone or through the media. Meanwhile, a Moro vigilante group threatened to kill the relatives of Abu Sayyaf leader Khadafy Janjalani if the hostages are not released by April 15. In a radio interview, the vigilante group leader Abdul Mijal said he would not hesitate to kill Mr. Janjalani's pregnant wife if the kidnap victims are not released.

March 30, 2000, BusinessWorld, DND downplays foreign aid to Abu Sayyaf, Cathy Rose A. Garcia, Leotes Marie T. 700+ words

The Department of National Defense (DND) downplayed yesterday the Abu Sayyaf's claim that it is receiving technical and financial support from foreign terrorists.

Defense Secretary Orlando S. Mercado said the Moro extremist rebels' claim, is part of the tactic to bolster its position in negotiations for the release of its 35 hostages in Basilan.

"While we take these things very seriously, we also have to understand that the Abu Sayyaf is also... trying to scare us, so that they can exact some concessions for the release of those they have kidnapped," Mr. Mercado told reporters at the DND office in Camp Aguinaldo.

"This is part of an effort to appear bigger and stronger than they are," he added.

Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Ahmad Salayuddin told a television interview yesterday that the group has been receiving financial support from Afghan terrorist groups as well as wealthy Saudi Arabia businessman Osama bin Laden.

Bin Laden is reportedly behind the terrorist group which bombed the World Trade Center in New York City several years ago.

"Nakakatanggap kami ng supporta galing kay Bin Laden dahil naniniwala ito sa adhikaing ipinaglalaban namin. (We are receiving support from Bin Laden because he believes in the cause we are fighting for)," Mr. Salayuddin told the interview. But he failed to mention how much funding Abu Sayyaf is receiving from abroad.

Mr. Salayuddin also confirmed reports that several Afghanistan nationals have been training Abu Sayyaf troops in Camp Abdurajak, Sumisip, Basilan.

He said the Afghans even recruited 20 Abu Sayyaf rebels to train abroad.

But Mr. Mercado said the Abu Sayyaf's admission only proves it is nothing more than a fundamentalist extremist terrorist group.

"These reports have to be checked out carefully. We have earlier received intelligence reports of their connection with groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We are aware also that this support may not be state-sponsored but it may be extremist organizations not sanctioned by the government," Mr. Mercado said.

At the same time, Mr. Mercado said Senator Juan Ponce Enrile has been tapped as member of the negotiating team for the release of the 35 hostages in Sumisip, Basilan.

He said various sectors in Zamboanga City have asked that Mr. Enrile participate in the ongoing negotiations.

The Defense secretary also said the Cabinet Cluster on national security is seriously considering the Abu Sayyaf's request for film actor Robin Padilla to negotiate for the hostages' release.

"If the Abu Sayyaf is insistent, then maybe we can consider including Mr. Padilla, but only as part of the larger negotiating team... We welcome the contributions of various political leaders and personalities, even movie actors, because our main concern really here is the safety of the teachers and children," Mr. Mercado said.

The terrorists have demanded 200 sacks of rice, food and medicine, in exchange for the release of hostages. The hostages, mostly teachers and students as well as a Catholic priest, were abducted in two barangays in Sumisip, Basilan on March 20.

Meanwhile, President Joseph Estrada said the government is willing to tap anybody who can help diffuse the tension in Basilan

"Kung makakatulong, kung sino man ang makakatulong ay papayagan natin...Ang atin lang naman hanap ay magkaroon ng mapayapang pag-uusap. (Anybody who can help is welcome... My only concern is for us to have a peaceful negotiation)," Mr. Estrada told a radio interview.

He also said the government is waiting for Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor Nur Misuari to volunteer to help resolve conflicts in Mindanao. Basilan is part of ARMM.

August 22, 2000, BusinessWorld, Editorial: To Take A Stand: War without end,

In a matter of days we will know if the Abu Sayyaf will reap the whirlwind or disappear into the night. We will know if all of the Basilan and Sipadan hostages would have been safely released or, Heaven forbid, whether Murphy's law or the law of unintended consequences will prevail.

On the other hand, more weeks of waiting could be in store as the Abu Sayyaf assess, and try to improve on, their chances of survival.

They are highly paranoid and on hair trigger's edge, expecting the government to strike after the Sipadan hostages are freed. Government forces may even move in beforehand out of exasperation as new hostages are abducted to replace old ones, like Almeda and his 12 disciples, the three French journalists and, if true, 16 foreign fishermen. Let's not forget the two Basilan women teachers still in their hands.

The question in everyone's mind is whether the government is competent enough to put an end to the Abu Sayyaf's brand of insurgency that has reduced the country's image to rubble.

The Abu Sayyaf's days have been numbered for some time now. Mil-pol units are straining in their leashes, ready to pounce on their quarry once the order is given and, more important, impatient to recover lost pride and prestige. But they face formidable odds. Sympathetic armed groups - e.g., MNLF renegades, the MILF, the Islamic Command Council, some of the Magic 8's private armies, marauding upstarts, and relatives - have reinforced the Abu Sayyaf. The rough estimate is that at least 5,000 assorted fighters, in Sulu alone, are toady to tangle with the AFP-PNP who, like the local governments, are infiltrated by Trojan horses.

But this will depend on how the Abu Sayyaf cuts its "escape and evasion" deals with government negotiators, or their tactical allies. They may be spirited away to a safe haven in exchange for the hostages' safe release; or they may successfully escape, as they almost always do, to their lairs in Basilan, Tawi-Tawi or the Zamboanga Peninsula; maybe even Sabah. It is not unthinkable that the hundreds of millions they've forcibly taken, thus far, have been shared with their allies and sympathizers in exchange for their safe passage and protection, apart from additional fire-power acquisition.

If the leaders escape to parts unknown, others will take their place to wreak more havoc on unsuspecting civilians, careless grunts and cops, the economy and the national psyche. Their disappearance will shame the government all the more. Grandstanding charlatans and pseudo-analysts will probably blame the previous administration once again to mask another glaring failure to deliver results. I doubt if the public will approve of such senseless scapegoating.

If the Abu Sayyaf are unable to scram and are cornered eventually, a bloodbath is certain with high casualty counts on both sides, and civilians getting the brunt of it. The government better have the money for refugee relief and rehabilitation throughout, in contrast to the rolling fiasco in central Mindanao. If government wants to curb its penchant for shooting itself in both feet, increasing the opponents mass base, and stretching the war horizon, then it should listen carefully to the inter-faith network working double time for peace and development nationwide.

Unlike their mainland counterparts, the Tausugs are more cohesive and have a proud warrior history that no less than Blackjack Pershing learned to respect the hard way almost a century ago. Pretenses about enemy degradation in Sulu will be quickly unmasked similar to the foolish propaganda being peddled like toothpaste of the MILF's diminished strength in central Mindanao.

If so, why are soldiers and civilians dying by the score today after the government's much publicized "victory?" Half-assed acts produce half-baked results, what else?

The Abu Sayyaf, otherwise known as the Al Harakatul al-Islamiya, are Islamic extremists who were organized in 1991 by Abdurajak Janjalani. Janjalani was a religious scholar and a mujahideen who returned from Afghanistan in the '80s to wage war against the Philippine government in the name of Allah, after soldiers allegedly raped the daughter of an imam. The group was small and agile, roughly a company-sized unit, during my time as DILG head from 1992-96.

It operated in Basilan, Sulu and the Zambo Peninsula, but not with the freedom it has had in the last two years where they hit the big time.

Amb. Rajab Azzarouq had, in fact, assisted the government as early as 1993 to safely secure kidnap victims in Basilan and Sulu, above and beyond the call of duty. But I'll reserve his story for another time. For now, he has the Philippines' eternal gratitude and my admiration.

In 1997, its ranks began to swell with disgruntled MNLF fighters who did not support Nur Misuari's negotiated peace settlement with the government, despite OIC sponsorship. Today, they reportedly exceed a thousand so-called mujahideen, many of them plain bandits trying to cloak themselves with political legitimacy as Islamic secessionists.

Their admirers have grown by leaps and bounds, awed by their ability to hold the military at bay; gain global publicity; extort millions of dollars; and humiliate government negotiators at will, who, from the pictures and film footage, seem to suffer from a bad case of the Stockholm Syndrome.

To be fair, Sec. Robert Aventajado, Amb. Azzarouq, Asst. Sec. Farouk Hussin and Gov. Sakur Tan have been trying to make the best out of a very bad situation. Since Day One. They have been deftly maneuvering around formidable obstacles and dealing with crisis management blunders.

First, the lack of cogency and teamwork within the government wasted precious time and weakened their leverage. Second, the choice of Nur Misuari as the government's chief negotiator at the outset despite his rejection long ago by these hardcore secessionists. Third, media's mindless ways, in the name of the "public's right to know," strengthened the Abu Sayyaf's hand and propelled them to stardom.

All these enabled them to consolidate their defenses in Patikul and Talipao that ruled out a military rescue operation, and maximize their extortive capacity.

When military operations commence against the Abu Sayyaf I expect the "degraded" MILF and the NPA to intensify diversionary attacks in Mindanao and elsewhere. The so-called war that was waged against the MILF will pale in comparison.

Will our boys have what it takes to bring the Abu Sayyaf before the bar of justice? Will the war theater extend beyond Mindanao? Who will be held accountable for the blood of dead and wounded Filipinos and the country's unending dislocation?

As the war escalates, there will be more unemployment, less purchasing power, more unrest and less patience. The national economy will spiral down, as with public safety and order, in spite of the rhetoric about Mindanao's reconstruction and development.

Even with government's sincere intentions, it is doubtful that it has the efficacy to envision and carry out a sustainable program of growth and renewal for all.

The government has created its own Vietnam. We all know how that story ended.

May 17, 2000, BusinessWorld, Government troops relax cordon around Abu Sayyaf Patikul hideout in Jolo, 700+ words

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday said it has pulled back its troops surrounding the Abu Sayyaf hideout in Patikul town in Jolo, Sulu where the Moro rebels are holding 21 mostly foreign hostages.

AFP's public affairs chief Colonel Jaime L. Canatoy said the military eased its cordon around the area to give way for the start of negotiations between the govenment panel and the Abu Sayyaf rebels today.

The Abu Sayyaf earlier demanded for the pullout of government troops which formed a military cordon around Patikul before it negotiates with the government for the release of the foreign hostages, now on their fourth week of captivity.

Mr. Canatoy said AFP received the instruction to pull out its troops from Patikul the other day from the government's negotiating panel, after the proposal was approved by the Cabinet Cluster E, which is tasked to go over policies concerning national security and international affairs.

"We have relaxed the cordon around the (Patikul) area ... I think it's the decision agreed upon by the government negotiating panel and the Cluster E - The military will only follow decisions made by our political leaders regarding the matter," Mr. Canatoy told BusinessWorld in an interview.

In place of the cordon, Mr. Canatoy said the military has organized mobile patrols in possible exit points "to prevent the exfiltration of the hostages" from Patikul.

Meanwhile, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Nur Misuari has been removed from the formal negotiations, scheduled to start today, with terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.

President Estrada has appointed presidential committee on flagships projects chairman Robert Aventajado as the chief negotiator of a new panel formed to negotiate with the terrorist group in Sulu.

In Memorandum Order no. 102-A dated May 15, Mr. Estrada appointed as panel members, Sulu governor Abdusakar M. Tan, Assistant Secretary for education for peace program Dr. Parouk Hussein and Ustadz Ibrahim Ghazali.

The formation of a new panel comes in the heels of the Abu Sayyaf's refusal to negotiate with Mr. Misuari and former Libyan Ambassador to the Philippines Rajab Azzarouq.

However, Malacanang insisted the memorandum should not be seen as giving in to the Abu Sayyaf demands.

In a press briefing, National Security Adviser Alexander P. Aguirre announced Mr. Misuari will act as an "adviser" to the negotiations, while Mr. Azzarouq "will remain involved in the peace negotiations" as a representative of the Khadafi International Charitable Foundation.

Press assistant secretary Michael Toledo said the government had decided to form a new panel, without the prodding of the Abu Sayyaf.

"It is best that we reiterate that the composition of the new panel of negotiators is not in any way an adherence or compliance of any demands of the Abu Sayyaf. This was unilateral on the part of the government to form a team," he said in a press briefing.

Mr. Toledo said there has been prior indication the Abu Sayyaf has accepted the composition of the new panel.

At the same time, Mr. Aguirre admitted Mr. Misuari may have not been an acceptable negotiator for the Abu Sayyaf. "I would say he tried his best situation, since you are negotiating with another party, you have to consider the acceptability of the emissaries with the other parties so that there will be good flow of communication. He tried his best but let us say there was no progress so we have to take some action to see to it that there will be some movement forward," he said.

He expressed confidence the new panel would be "more effective" than the previous panels, in working for the release of the hostages.

In his memo, Mr. Estrada acknowledged there is an "urgent" need to form a new panel to work for the release of the 21 hostages in Sulu. "The hostage-taking problem in Sulu has taken an international dimensions owing to the nationalities of the hostages taken. There is a urgent need to create a new panel to address the situation and hasten the release of the hostages," he said.

Earlier, Mr. Aventajado said the Abu Sayyaf would provide an official written set of demands in exchange for the release of the hostages during negotiations today. The government refused to reveal the venue of the negotiations.

April 14, 2000, BusinessWorld, Abu Sayyaf seen to free Basilan hostages, Garcia, Cathy Rose A.

Moro terrorists were expected to release last night two of their 31 hostages in Basilan, after a government negotiating panel promised to send 185 sacks of palay to the terrorists' camp.

In a radio interview yesterday, Basilan crisis management committee spokesman Christopher Puno said the terrorists - members of the Abu Sayyaf - promised to free two schoolchildren in exchange for the palay.

The crisis committee is the body tasked by the government to deal with the Abu Sayyaf to ensure the release of the 31 remaining hostages.

"Nag-usap na kami ng Abu Sayyaf... Yung isang truck ang magdadala ng 185 sacks of rice ngayon... Puwede na siguro silang magsimula ng talks. (I already talked to the Abu Sayyaf... A truck will bring the 100 sacks of rice today... Maybe they (hostage negotiators) could start the talks already)," Mr. Puno said.

As of press time, hostages are still to be released. Also, it could not be confirmed if the sacks of palay have been brought to the Abu Sayyaf's Camp Abdurjak in Basilan.

On Wednesday evening, Abu Sayyaf members refused to start negotiations with a government panel, led by film actor Robin Padilla, until their demand for palay was heeded.

At the time, the crisis management committee managed to send only 15 sacks of palay.

Mr. Puno said the terrorists would start negotiations for the hostages' release only after they receive the 200 sacks of palay. The palay delivery was expected to reach Camp Abdurajak late last night.

"Pero mayroon pa silang demands para kay President Estrada na sasabihin lang nila pagkatapos nilang makuha ang mga 200 sacks of rice. (But they have other demands from President Estrada which they will disclose only after getting the 200 sacks of rice)," he added.

On March 20, Abu Sayyaf members abducted 54 persons - mostly schoolteachers and schoolchildren, including a Catholic priest - in Sumisip and Sinangkapan towns in Basilan.

Some of those abducted have been released already, in exchange for food and medicine.

Defense Secretary Orlando S. Mercado, meanwhile, said the government is confident the negotiating team led by Mr Padilla will secure the release of the 31 hostages in the next few days.

Earlier, Abu Sayyaf threatened to start beheading male hostages unless Mr. Padilla goes to Basilan personally.

At the Senate, Senator Rodolfo G. Biazon said the government should now expect more abductions by terrorist groups.

"Even if Robin Padilla has arrived there in Basilan, it doesn't mean that the hostages will be freed. The government must concurrently study a change of manner in dealing with the Abu Sayyaf," he said.

"The government must not rest but pursue the Abu Sayyaf until it is demolished," he added.

Meanwhile, at least 21,850 families have left their homes in Lanao del Norte to avoid continued clashes between government and Moro rebel troops.

But, Mr. Mercado said, the government is doing everything to provide adequate relief assistance to these displaced families.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) reported yesterday that fighting in Lanao del Norte has so far displaced 102,627 persons.

Of these, 76,295 are now in 14 evacuation centers in the province. Another 26,332 are in evacuation centers in Lanao del Sur.

Those who fled are mostly residents of the following towns: Kauswagan, Baloi, Linamon, Sapad, Monai, Tagoloan, Bacolod, Maigo, Kumabugan, Matungao, Pantar and Salvador.

Fighting between government and Moro rebels started on March 16 after the rebels, belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), took over the Kauswagan town hall.

This prompted President Joseph Estrada to order the military to go "all-out" against the rebels.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Colonel Rafael Romero said military clearing operations in Munai, Lanao del Norte continues as government troops come close to overrunning the MILF's Camp Bilal, which is near the town.

"There are continuous clearing operations... In fact, some of our troops are already in Camp Bilal. But the MILF is still putting up a strong fight in the area," Mr. Romero told reporters.

He also said the military is confident that government troops would completely overrun Camp Bilal within the next three to four days.

Camp Bilal is considered a major MILF camp. It reportedly houses 400 to 500 rebels.

"The only worry we have is the MILF might shift its operations in other areas," Mr. Romero added.

August 14, 2001, BusinessWorld, Shifting venue eyed for ASG trial, 700+ words

The government yesterday said it has convinced the Supreme Court (SC) to transfer the trial of 34 suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members from Cebu to another venue.

In a meeting with SC justices, the departments of Justice, Defense, Interior and Local Government, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) joined forces in asking the magistrates to find a "more suitable place."

Justice Secretary Hernando B. Perez said the trial will likely be conducted at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig, Metro Manila.

Mr. Perez said the government also suggested that the presentation of prosecution evidence be held in Bicutan while the court will return to its Basilan sala when it will be time for the defense to present its side.

This setup, he said, will protect the witnesses who refuse to testify in Basilan while allowing the relatives of the accused to also witness the trial.

"This shifting venue scheme is one of a kind and this could be the first time that the Supreme Court will be doing it," he said.

The accused, led by Hector Janjalani, brother of Abu Sayyaf founder Khaddafi Janjalani, will also be detained in Taguig while the trial is ongoing.

"This was the suggestion of the government. It will be up to the Supreme Court to decide," said Mr. Perez.

Mr. Perez said the government decided to support the request of Cebu officials and businessmen to transfer the trial venue. The SC had moved the trial to Cebu from Zamboanga after local officials also objected.

"(I)t's a positive development," said Cebu City mayor Tomas R. Osmena, who flew in from Cebu to attend the Supreme Court meeting.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the change of venue either today or on Wednesday at the latest.

Also present yesterday were Interior and Local Government Secretary Jose D. Lina, Jr., PNP director general Leandro R. Mendoza, PNP regional director Avelino I. Razon, Jr. and Cebu governor Pablo P. Garcia.

Defense Secretary Angelo T. Reyes was represented by Edgardo Batenga while Armed Forces chief of staff Diomedio P. Villanueva also sent a representative.

In a related development, two senators yesterday urged the Senate to look into allegations that military officials in Basilan colluded with the Abu Sayyaf in the latter's escape from a military dragnet.

In a resolution, opposition senators Panfilo M. Lacson and Gregorio B. Honasan asked the Senate committee on national defense and security to conduct an investigation in aid of legislation on allegations by twice-kidnapped Basilan priest Fr. Cirilo Nacorda that five military officers helped the bandits escape last June 2.

The resolution identified the military officials who allegedly helped the Abu Sayyaf escape as Visayas Command chief Brig. Gen. Romeo Dominguez, former 103rd Army Brigade commander Col. Jovenal Narcise, his aides Capt. Hubert Acierto and Capt. Nicolas Quemado, Jr., and executive officer of the 18th Infantry Battalion Maj. Eliseo Campued.

As this developed, a white paper being circulated blamed the AFP chief and the Defense secretary for the continued failure of government troops to resolve the Basilan hostage crisis.

"The military operations in Basilan have been largely a failure due to the interference of (Messrs. Reyes and Villanueva) that curtailed the ability of local military commanders to exercise command and control over their units in the field," the paper stated.

The paper also criticized Mr. Reyes's alleged involvement in the anomalous purchase of C-130 aircraft and for receiving P200 million from deposed president Joseph Estrada prior to the latter's ouster from power.

Both officials were unavailable for comment.

January 6, 2002, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Turning another page for Basilan, Sunday, 700+ words

January 28, 2002, BBC Reports, Philippines: Sister appeals for US hostages' release, Monday, 474 words,

March 10, 2002, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Vigilante justice, Sunday, 700+ words,

UNDER SEVERE stress, the mayor of Maluso in Basilan has decided to take matters into his own hands. To force the Abu Sayyaf to release at least one of its three remaining hostages, Mayor Sakib Salajin ordered his armed followers to kidnap the wives and relatives of Abu Sayyaf bandits. "We kidnapped them so we'll have some bargaining power," he told reporters on Wednesday, when his bodyguards had already abducted eight innocents. "If we don't kidnap them, the rebels will only become stronger."

The prolonged kidnap-for-ransom crisis must have taken its toll on Salajin, because clearly he can no longer tell right from wrong. If he thinks that his kidnapping spree is less evil than that of the bandit group, or that at the very least it is justifiable under the sorry circum-stances, he is tragically mistaken. His vigilante justice is not less reprehensible than the Abu Sayyaf's mercenary law of the jungle; it is worse.

For it is not the ransom part that makes the Abu Sayyaf abductions repulsive. (If it were, we would be unmindful of the fate of those coconut plantation farmers and other abductees like them who have no capacity to pay ransom in the first place.) It is-it must be-the kidnapping in itself. An abduction violates the liberty of a person, the very same liberty vouchsafed by the Constitution and which it is the duty of all public officials, from the President down to the hard-pressed mayor of every crisis-rent town, to preserve and pro-tect.

By taking the law into his own hands, therefore, Salajin has violated his oath; he has undermined the very rule of law he was sworn to uphold. He may not demand ransom for his eight hostages, but in his official capacity he has deprived them of their freedom and their dignity: he is misusing them as mere tools of negotia-tion. This is a crime for which he must be charged and penalized.

But his statements last Wednesday revealed a remarkable sense of being above the law. "(The national government) can't even charge the Abu Sayyaf, so how can they charge us?" he asked. The fact is that many Abu Sayyaf bandits, among them top leader Hector Janjalani, are already being prosecuted under the country's criminal justice system. Salajin's disdain for the facts is a mere reflection of his contempt for the law.

Maybe what he meant is that if Basilan Gov. Wahab Akbar had already gotten away with the same thing, why shouldn't he? Akbar had caused the kidnapping of 10 relatives of Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khaddady Janjalani in 2000, to use as leverage for hostage negotiations. To be sure, Akbar did try to preserve appearances, because it was his bodyguard who owned responsibility for the counter-kidnapping strategy. And to be scrupulous about the details, after a few months the hostage swap did work to a certain extent. But what Akbar did was against the law then; what Salajin has done is against the law now.

The answer to the lawlessness sown by the Abu Sayyaf, the Pentagon and other kidnap gangs is not less law, but more. We don't mean "law and order," which is often police shorthand for someone cracking the whip somewhere. We mean the rule of law, which not only divides the immense powers of government but uses those same powers to protect the life, liberty and property of every citizen.

Even military officials acknowledge that kidnappings and other forms of terrorism cannot be resolved by military solutions. One long-standing problem that many have already recognized as a root cause of the hostage crisis is the islanders' deep sense of abandon-ment, of being perpetual victims of government neglect. But Salajin's cynical ploy to gain "bargaining power" can only serve to reinforce the perception in Basilan that the common people are mere currency of the powers-that-be. It cannot but sharpen differences in a province already on the edge.

The tragedy in Salajin's brand of vigilante justice lies in this: It may weaken the bandits for now, but it will strengthen the causes of banditry in the long term.

March 21, 2002, BBC Reports, Philippines: Muslim rebel claims to be only negotiator recognized by Abu...

May 31, 2002, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Bandits say $5-M reward boosts their egos,

June 29, 2002, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Gov't takes war to Abu Sayyaf turf.

July 12, 2002, BusinessWorld, Newspoint, by Vergel O. Santos, 700+ words

Second, and final, part

Other than that she was a fine and brave journalist and that, indeed, she had been kidnapped and, by "God's work," freed unransomed, what did Arlyn de la Cruz have to say?

A few things, really, although not the sort of things that could redeem her. These are things not strictly germane to her case and tending only to divert public attention from it, but, all the same, things that could not - cannot even now - be ignored because they fall within the larger context in which her case has naturally fallen - professional ethics.

Criticized as consorting with her news subjects and sources, De la Cruz turned the tables on her critics: "Many reporters would have coffee with public officials and talk about the controversies that involve the public officials. The conversations would lead to personal matters. What do they report in the end?"

She went on: "Some journalists' children are the godchildren, or they themselves are relatives, even the wives or husbands of controversial personalities in the Philippine National Police or the armed forces, or in other government agencies.

"Are they guilty, too, of violating the ethical standards of journalism? What do they report? I believe that's the more important question that should be answered."

Those may be valid questions, but they remain rhetorical until De la Cruz cites specific cases and names names.

In fact she did name names in one case, although a case not intended as an illustration. Possibly, De la Cruz cited it only for the chance to get even and assert her professional and moral authority: it involved Newsbreak, a fortnightly that had published suspicions that she had stage- managed her own kidnapping.

"Glenda Gloria managed to co-write a book about the Abu Sayyaf ("Under the Crescent Moon," with Marites Danguilan-Vitug, editor of Newsbreak, where Gloria herself is an associate editor), but aside from Basilan Governor Wahab Akhbar, who was once a key figure in the formative years of the Abu Sayyaf, she was not able to interview any Abu Sayyaf leader or member. She did beg me to introduce her to (Janjalani) Khaddafy, the Abu Sayyaf leader, and even treated me to dinner. I gave her the address and gave her some names that could lead her to Khaddafy. But it was Khaddafy's decision not to talk to her.

"Gloria interviewed me for her book but did not even bother to acknowledge me in it, but when she interviewed me I realized why very interesting subjects like Janjalani refuse to talk to her. She asked me the obvious questions. Why? What? Where? When? Very intelligent questions . . . but they lacked . . . warmth."

Whatever De la Cruz's motives, Gloria and Newsbreak will have to deal with that. But before the public is diverted for too long by any compelling curiosities De la Cruz has inspired, it should be led back to the immediate issue - De la Cruz herself.

By simply looking, one could get the impression that Arlyn de la Cruz had a lot to say in the article she wrote for the Philippine Journalism Review (Vol. 13, No. 3). She managed, after all, to string together a lot of words (5,000, or six, not just three, times the length of this column, to correct my gross underestimation earlier). She even managed to put in a fair amount of detail.

But those were scarcely the words and the details that really counted; not such details as (if I may repeat) characters named or otherwise described unmistakably enough to be reasonably traceable for corroboration, situations specific enough to give any sense of reality, narratives or chronologies from which to form credible perspectives.

I don't know that the more publication space ceded to a news subject the greater the probability of the truth becoming revealed in the controversy surrounding him. What it guarantees, rather, are more words to suit his purposes, which do not necessarily constitute truthful self- revelation. And that is illustrated in De la Cruz's article by a paragraph that set its theme:

"I was on a dangerous mission as a journalist - a mission that probably only someone like me would dare undertake. But that does not erase the fact that what happened to me was an assault on press freedom."

Still, to me, nothing beats the traditional manner of editorial inquiry: set the news subject up as a target for questioning, provoke the details out of him, and draw the devil out of those details.

July 30, 2002, South China Morning Post, Rebels down to 200 men following US-aided exercises, says...
by Raissa Robles in Manila

The Abu Sayyaf rebel group has been cut back to only a fifth of its former strength, a senior Philippine general said on the eve of the departure of more than 1,000 US troops who engaged in jungle exercises aimed at helping Filipino soldiers defeat the group.

Three days after the American forces leave tomorrow, US Secretary of State Colin Powell will arrive in Manila to discuss the next series of joint military training exercises, to begin in October.

Mr Powell has expressed satisfaction at the success of the first joint Balikatan exercises in a combat zone with the enemy as live targets. He said these had "paid off in terms of effectiveness of the Philippine armed forces" to combat terrorism.

After six months of joint operations using the US military's sophisticated surveillance and communications equipment, the Muslim extremist Abu Sayyaf group had been cut from more than 1,000 members to about 200 men, Lieutenant-General Ernesto Carolina, chief of the armed forces southern Philippines command, said on Sunday.

"We are guaranteeing that they will not be able to stage another raid on an island resort," he said. "They are in hiding and they are in small groups that render them incapable of undertaking large-scale terrorist activities."

However, four of the group's five leaders, including top commander Khaddafy Janjalani, remain at large. And with millions of dollars from ransom demands, the group could still recover.

For both nations, the military exercises served to thaw relations that had cooled considerably after US bases were forced to close and troops leave the country in 1992. The military, dependent on the US for training and equipment since 1946, suddenly found it had to fend for itself.

Last November, following the September 11 attacks, US President George W. Bush promised US$100 million, of which US$55 million would go to the military, with US$15 million for Muslim provinces in the south.

With the alliance, Manila hoped to send a warning to China to respect its territorial claim in the South China Sea.

Liberals such as former foreign minister and now Vice-President Teofisto Guingona were wary of close relations with the US. They recalled the way the US had long propped up Ferdinand Marcos' rule at the expense of the nation, only because Marcos allowed US bases to remain. Over the weekend, Congressman Satur Ocampo claimed three Americans had joined an operation to arrest an Abu Sayyaf leader and one had shot him in the thigh. He said this violated Balikatan's rules restricting US troops to fire only in self-defence.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo retorted that "communists" like Mr Ocampo had no business defending human rights when they were also violators.

During a news conference at the presidential palace yesterday, Mrs Arroyo presented six people who were victims or relatives of victims beheaded, raped or taken hostage by the Abu Sayyaf during a brutal year-long kidnapping spree that ended only last month.

"Let me ask our critics: Why don't you interview these victims of the Abu Sayyaf and see and listen for yourself what it means to be a victim of the worst form of brutality and inhuman treatment?" she said.

August 29, 2002, The Philippine Star, "Talks over; AFP launches assault 'with no mercy' in Sulu",
700+ words

"Talks over; AFP launches assault 'with no mercy' in Sulu", published in English by Philippine newspaper The Philippine Star web site on 29 August

President Arroyo rejected yesterday "more surrender talks" with the kidnappers of four women belonging to the Jehovah's Witnesses as Armed Forces chief Gen Roy Cimatu ordered troops to storm their hideout and rescue the hostages. Mrs Arroyo said her administration's consistent policy is not to negotiate with terrorists and kidnappers like the Abu Sayyaf.

"No more, no more," she said. "Because these surrender talks inevitably includes 'Give us 48 hours to enter. Give us a safe conduct pass so that we can discuss it further. Or, hold off your fire for a while.'"

As she prepared to fly to Mindanao, Mrs Arroyo said she was extending Cimatu's tour of duty for six more days to 10 September so the successful end of the hostage crisis would be his "swan song". Mrs Arroyo said she will convene a command conference to get an update on the military operation against the kidnappers from Lt-Gen Ernesto Carolina, chief of the military's Southern Command based in Zamboanga City. "I will get an update on the operations in Sulu," she said. "And I will say: 'No more surrender talks'. Actually I have said it but I will say it again there."

Mrs Arroyo said the reported negotiations with the kidnappers by certain relatives of the hostages were carried out with the government's permission. "I never, never, never granted any (concession with kidnappers)," she said. "And if anybody is to negotiate on their own, there is no corridor, no nothing because they are doing it behind our backs. They are not doing it with our permission. But that's their responsibility. No soldier will be told hold your fire."

Upon arriving in Jolo, Sulu yesterday morning, Cimatu immediately gave instructions via satellite communications to the military field commander to rescue the hostages. "Hit the kidnappers with no mercy if they will resist and engage," he said. "The (troops) have crossed the departure line. This means they are now on the go against the kidnappers and the Abu Sayyaf."

Cimatu said troops are closing in on the lair of the kidnappers but stressed that the safety of the hostages will always be considered. "The troops are moving in," he said. "There will be no extension (of the five-day lull) since we had already crossed the line." But Cimatu said efforts by civilian negotiators would also be pursued side by side with the military action. "'If there will be civilian negotiation, it would just be parallel to the military operations," he said. Pursuing troops have already clashed with Abu Sayyaf bandits under Radulan Sahiron after they tried to block the advancing soldiers, Cimatu added.

However, Brig-Gen Romeo Tolentino, Sulu military commander, said that as of 3 p.m. yesterday, government troops had not clashed with the kidnappers. "There has been no reported contact yet," he said. Any group that tries to block the advancing troops would be "dealt with accordingly", Tolentino added.

Eight army and marine battalions are deployed in Sulu, along with the US-trained and equipped Light Reaction Company. Troops are hunting down Abu Sayyaf leaders Khadaffi Janjalani, Abu Solaiman, Ghalib Andang alias Commander Robot, Mujib Susukan, Umbra Jumdail alias Dr Abu Pula, and Sahiron.

Three Indonesian seamen are also being held by another gang of kidnappers in Luuk town after they were seized from a cargo ship in waters off Basilan last 17 July. Meanwhile, Carolina yesterday described as a "figment of imagination" claims of Catholic priest Fr Cirilo Nacorda that Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Sabaya is still alive. "His story was based on somebody who had heard about Sabaya from somebody who heard from someone else," he said. "In other words it is just hearsay."

Carolina said the fact that Sabaya was killed in an encounter with navy commandos and marines was supported by first-hand accounts of witnesses who figured in the shoot-out off the coast of Zamboanga del Norte. "It is now a statement of fact versus hearsay," he said. Carolina said even the family of Sabaya in Basilan is convinced that he is already dead. "The mother claimed she felt (that Sabaya had died)," he said.

Sabaya's family said he would call them "in any given situation" to inform them about his condition and whereabouts, until last 21 June when he was said to have been killed. Doubts as to the death of Sabaya arose after the military failed to produce his body after the encounter when he reportedly fell into the sea after a navy vessel rammed the boat carrying him and he was riddled with bullets.

Source: The Philippine Star web site, Manila, in English 29 Aug 02

August 30, 2002, Gulf News, Abu Sayyaf leader killed in Basilan. by Barbara Mae Dacanay/Al Jacinto,
674 words

An Abu Sayyaf sub-commander was killed and many others were wounded during a clash in the jungle village of Simut, Tuburan, Basilan, southern Philippines, last Wednesday, a belated military report said.

"Soldiers recovered the body of a rebel commander identified as Mubaral. Other gunmen escaped in the jungle taking their dead, while a small group clashed with soldiers," said Basilan Army Chief, Col. Alexander Aleo.

Mubaral belonged to the group of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader, Tanad Nasalun, one of the deputies of Abu Sayyaf chieftain, Khadaffy Janjalani.

Mubaral was also a relative of captured Abu Sayyaf rebel, Buyung-Buyung Isnijal.

Last month, Isnijal had reported to leftist Congressman, Satur Ocampo, that he was shot at by U.S. soldiers while being interrogated about the ownership of some weapons that were recovered by the military.

"Villagers tipped off the military about the presence of rebels in the suspected encampment. There were no casualties on my side," Col. Aleo said.

Meanwhile, government forces yesterday shelled suspected strongholds of the Abu Sayyaf Group on Jolo island where several kidnappers are holding four women preachers and three Indonesian sailors, said army commander, Brig. General Romeo Tolentino.

Jolo is 100 km south-west of Basilan. The two provinces are the major strongholds of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

"We are shelling suspected rebel lairs in the mountains of Patikul and Talipao towns where the Abu Sayyaf rebels might help the kidnappers who are hiding with their hostages in nearby camps. We still do not know if there were casualties, and the military offensive is continuing," he explained.

"We are really having a hard time tracking down the terrorists because they usually move from one place to another to evade the troops. The jungle is thick and the weather is bad, but our forces are scattered to make sure the Abu Sayyaf don't escape," Brig. Gen. Tolentino said.

Armed Forces chief, Lt. Gen. Roy Cimatu, denied reports that the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas have escaped a tight military cordon in Patikul town, and said that they are still in the area.

"The operation now is to destroy the Abu Sayyaf," added Lt. Gen. Cimatu.

At the same time, security forces continued pursuing other kidnappers with links to the Abu Sayyaf, who were identified as responsible for the kidnapping of four women preachers in Jolo on August 20, and the three Indonesian sailors off Jolo on June 17.

The women preachers were kidnapped by Andulmuin Sahiron, and the Indonesian nationals by Ramji Haji Salli. Although they are not Abu Sayyaf members, they are believed to have links with the group.

"The rescue operation is ongoing," he said, but did not clarify if the military is concentrating more on attacking the Abu Sayyaf rather than the camps of the suspected kidnappers.

Last week, troops also clashed with rebels and killed an undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf fighters in a renewed government campaign against the group.

The Philippine and U.S. governments said the Abu Sayyaf is linked to the Al Qaida network of Osama bin Laden.

The Abu Sayyaf was responsible for the kidnapping and killing of U.S. nationals Guillermo Sobero last year and Martin Burnham on June 3.

October 4, 2002, South China Morning Post, Abu Sayyaf bomber killed US soldier, says Philippine military.
by Raissa Robles and Manny Mogato in Manila,

Military intelligence is blaming the Abu Sayyaf extremist group for a bomb attack which killed three people, including an American soldier, in the southern Philippines. But police investigating Wednesday's attack, and military officials in the south, said it was too early to draw conclusions.

A military intelligence report sent to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo blamed a four-man team led by Abu Solaiman, an Abu Sayyaf commander, for the bombing in Zamboanga City.

The slain American was identified as Sergeant First Class Mark Jackson. Two Filipinos, identified as Bernard Limba and Marlon Tuballa, were also killed. Another American soldier and 23 Filipinos were injured in the blast at a restaurant and karaoke bar outside the gates of a compound used by US special forces troops serving as military advisers and performing humanitarian tasks in the mainly Muslim south.

National police chief Hermogenes Ebdane said he believed the Abu Sayyaf had sent a suicide bomber. He said witnesses identified Limba as the driver of a motorcycle which carried the nail-packed bomb and told police he was an Abu Sayyaf member.

Authorities cited the fact that Abu Sayyaf chief Khaddafy Janjalani had last week warned of fresh attacks that would include US and Philippine military targets. The group, which has been linked to al-Qaeda, has staged bomb attacks before - often to divert troops from pursuing its armed units, whose prime activity is kidnapping for ransom.

Investigators said there were still few facts they could be sure of. Mario Yanga, Zamboanga City police chief, said: "We cannot say it was a suicide bomber, [and] we have [still] to determine the kind of explosive used."

Witnesses disagreed as to whether or not Limba was the driver of the motorcycle. It was possible, investigators said, that Limba and Tuballa were victims, and that the bomb was planted by someone with a grudge.

Limba's relatives insisted he was not an Abu Sayyaf member, saying he was not even Muslim.

Limba had just been deported from Sabah, Malaysia, along with thousands of other illegal immigrants, said an army spokesman.

American investigators arrived in Zamboanga yesterday. "The US deplores this brutal act of terrorism," US Embassy spokeswoman Karen Kelley said earlier in Manila.

October 9, 2002, BusinessWorld, Abu Sayyaf shifting to urban terrorism - SouthCom chief.

October 12, 2002, Manila Standard, Schilling tags Janjalani, Sabaya in kidnap,

Nov. 15, 2002, China Morning Post, Bereaved coroner is on a personal crusade to avenge his son's murder,
by Raissa Robles in Manila,

Abdulmukim Ong Edris could yet wriggle out of charges that he masterminded the bombing of two department stores in Zamboanga or that he was about to bomb high-profile targets in Manila, observers said.

He was, after all, arrested in Manila, and his lawyers could always claim he was tortured into confessing by his interrogators.

But it will be hard for him to escape the wrath of medical doctor Nilo Barandino, who had made it his personal crusade to find him. "He killed my son," Dr Barandino said yesterday.

Marvin Barandino, 21, was shot dead allegedly by Edris on September 25, 1999, in the public market of Isabela, the capital of the island province of Basilan.

Dr Barandino, the provincial coroner who had to perform a post-mortem examination on his own son, said: "Edris did not intentionally kill my son, but I think he was after the other person collecting money from the video [horse] races."

That other person was wounded and was ready to testify against Edris, he said. Dr Barandino said Edris was also wanted in connection with the murder of Edwin Angeles, another top Abu Sayyaf official, killed during a power struggle with Khaddafy Janjalani, now the Abu Sayyaf chief.

He is also implicated in the kidnapping of American missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham, Guillermo Sobero who was beheaded, and 16 others who were snatched from a Palawan island resort in May last year.

The police said Edris had 11 arrest warrants for kidnapping, serious illegal detention and murder.

Dr Barandino, the man who wants to put Edris away for good, is serious about mission.

The doctor is the only kidnap victim in Basilan who has so far succeeded in putting three of his abductors behind bars for life. The rest have filed cases but never pursued them.

On May 27, 1992, Dr Barandino, his wife, a nephew and eight of his 14 children were snatched at gunpoint by Jul Jillang, a notorious member of the Abu Sayyaf, in the outskirts of Isabela.

They were kept inside a hut atop a forested mountain and released 25 days later after paying 331,659 pesos (HK$48,500) in ransom. With the help of his late son, Marvin, Dr Barandino said he was able to track down their kidnappers. The judge finally convicted them two years ago.

Dr Barandino claimed Edris had other relatives who were in the business of kidnapping.

November 25, 2002, Philippine Inquirer, Navy intelligence says 2 Sayyaf leaders want to acquire passports, 653 words

BONGAO, Tawi-Tawi-Two ranking Abu Sayyaf leaders were sighted here last week with about 30 of their escorts, according to a report by the Naval Intelligence and Security Force (NISF).

The NISF said Radulan Sahiron alias Commander Putol and Galib Andang alias Commander Robot "were reportedly seen disembarking from MV Magnolia Grande Flora at the Bongao Wharf."

The NISF report said Andang and Sahiron, the prime suspect in the abduction of the preachers of the Jehovah's Witnesses and keeper of the Indonesian hostages in Sulu, were "planning to apply for police clearances and passports."

The bandit leaders allegedly want to go to Sandakan in Sabah, Malaysia "to evade the AFP and PNP operations in Sulu province."

Col. Eugene Clemen, commander of the 1st Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT) here, told the Inquirer it was his first time to hear about the report.

But he said he received information that another Abu Sayyaf leader, Mujib Susukan, was here about four days ago.

"In fact our (intelligence operatives) also spotted three Abu Sayyaf bandits led by Talib Edris in Barangay Lamion last week and three days after, two more were sighted in the same barangay, probably doing some recruiting here," Clemen added.

He said Susukan and Edris are close to recognized Abu Sayyaf chief Khadaffy Janjalani.

"There is a possibility that Janjalani is here, probably resting or hatching future terror acts," Clemen said.

Gen. Librado Ladia, commander of the Philippine Marine Corps, admitted receiving similar reports about the presence of Abu Sayyaf bandits here.

As this developed, the Chinese community here told reporters that the kidnappers of Alvin Chua has been demanding P3 million in exchange for the freedom of the victim.

Chua, a local businessman engaged in the buy and sell of marine products, was abducted by heavily armed suspects on Oct. 20.

Appang admitted having received information of a ransom demand but said the suspects were only asking for P2 million.

He admitted that the police have yet to establish the identities of the suspects but the Marines said a contemporary of slain Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Sabaya pulled off the abduction.

Clemen identified the leader of the armed men as Sariol Badding alias Commander Labuyo.

"But we could not easily detect their whereabouts because the relatives of Chua refused to coordinate with us," he said.

Army soldiers continue their pursuit of Abu Sayyaf bandits and have claimed success in the killing of Sabaya during an encounter at sea.

The Army report of Sabaya's death, however, has been doubted following the failure of authorities to retrieve the slain bandit's body.

US soldiers recently went on a mission in Basilan and some parts of Mindanao to help train their Filipino counterparts on anti-terrorism tactics.

But the visit of the American soldiers was met with nationwide protests and rallies.

More exercises are being planned between the Philippine and US militaries in a bid to strengthen the two countries' fight against terrorism. Julie Alipala, PDI Mindanao Bureau

May 10, 2003, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Kabalu confirms hostages' stay in MILF camp, by Julie S. Alipala,

ZAMBOANGA CITY-With "sadness," Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) spokesman Eid Kabalu welcomed Gracia Burnham's positive impression of their three-week stay at the MILF camp in Sumisip, Basilan during their captivity.

Kabalu explained to the Inquirer that, "despite the government stand branding us as terrorists, the Abu Sayyaf captives like Gracia still saw the goodness of our people in the field."

Gracia had written that their stay in an MILF camp proved to be the least stressful.

He confirmed that one of their field commanders, Amir Mingkong, based in Erelei Sumisip had earlier been accused of conniving with the Abu Sayyaf under Kadaffy Janjalani's leadership.

After the military released this report, Kabalu said Mingkong was placed under investigation by the MILF. But no collusion was found between the MILF and the Abu Sayyaf bandits, according to Kabalu.

He admitted though that other field commanders reported to him that Mingkong, in his personal capacity, "for maybe humanitarian or monetary reasons, or because one or two of the Abu Sayyaf were his relatives, accommodated the request of the Abu Sayyaf to stay briefly at their camp in Sumisip. We cannot yet confirm the allegations," Kabalu said.

July 12, 2003, Borneo Bulletin, Brunei: Arroyo audience with investment groups cancelled, by Rosli Abidin Yahya,
Investment groups of Brunei and Korea who are currently in the Philippines had to cancel their scheduled audience with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at about 9 am yesterday.

This was because the Philippine leader needed to go to Mindanao to inspect damages due to a bomb explosion in Koronadal City, South Cotabato in Southern Philippines.

News of the planned audience with the leader was only informed by Malacanang Palace on Thursday. President Arroyo was to grant the investment groups a 20-minute audience yesterday morning at her office.

However, the busy leader had to cancel the planned meeting as she needed to fly to Koronadal City, where three people died and thirty-one others were wounded when a bomb exploded in a crowded market on Thursday.

The wounded included children who were watching a video game where the incident occurred. No one claimed responsibility for the bombing although local newspapers reported there were indications that it was the work of a combined effort by Abu Sayyaf bandits and Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas.

Malacang stated that President Arroyo needed to go to the bomb-ravaged area yesterday to inspect the damages and console relatives of the casualties as well as the wounded victims.

Dr Hj Abd Latif bin Chuchu, leader of the investment teams comprising of BMBC Inc and Korean Consulting Group, yesterday said that they had made a new arrangement to return again in a month's time for a similar mission.

The groups were also about to depart for Sultan Kudadat Province yesterday but decided not to as news revealed that Abu Sayyaf leader Janjalani and seventy heavily-armed men had landed vis-a-vis speed boats on its shores.

Professor Hj Mohd Hassan Cana, the coordinator of the visit, said no schedule could be confirmed earlier as security for the visitors was of paramount importance.

July 27, 2003, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Military, police deny Al-Ghozi in their hands,

October 14, 2003, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 'We walked out casually as if we were policemen',

November 25, 2003, BBC Reports, Philippines: Wanted Abu Sayyaf leader wounded - military official,

March 8, 2004, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Janjalani: From ASG to BCJ, by Christian Esguerra,
405 words

HE MIGHT have been feared as a dreaded terrorist but Abu Sayyaf leader Hector Janjalani had to shed off his ferocious image when brought to the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa late last week.

A meek Janjalani entered an isolated cell in Building 1-B Saturday night to begin his life sentence for the kidnapping of American Jeffrey Schilling in 2000, an NBP insider told the Inquirer.

The cell, according to the source, is at the facility housing death convicts.

Since Janjalani was a newcomer, he had to "bow down" before leaders of the Batang City Jail, a jailhouse gang that "rules" that part of the national penitentiary, the source said.

"'Di uubra ang pagiging terorista n'ya rito (His being a terrorist will not work here)," he said, hinting that Janjalani might even have been forced to join the BCJ.

He said the Abu leader had no choice but to join the group, if only to "survive" there.

But Janjalani was not so humble when he first arrived at the penitentiary.

Bureau of Corrections Director Dionisio Santiago said some inmates and prison employees were irked when Janjalani entered the building with his hands on his waist.

"Medyo nayabangan sila," he told the Inquirer. "But there's no room for his notoriety here. Inmates themselves will clip his wings."

And his "wings" seemed fairly trimmed when he was brought to the enclave of the prison hardened BCJs.

The group Batang Mindanao could have been willing to adopt Janjalani but the gang did not have members on death row.

And if it's any consolation, Janjalani came at the time when there's relative peace at the NBP.

March 13, 2004, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Ferry fire witness says it was like New Year,

April 7, 2004, South China Morning Post, Payback time for Abu Sayyaf kidnap victim, by Raissa Robles,
 in Manila

For a kidnapping victim who spent months at the mercy of the Abu Sayyaf, the opportunity to seek some small amount of retribution was irresistible.

Undeterred by their size or fearsome reputation, the elfin-like Angie Montealegre yesterday struck back at two of her alleged captors.

First, after identifying the crew-cut Abdusaid Sanjeng Lim as one of her abductors, she sized him up and slapped him across the face.

Next in her sights was the ringleader of the group.

Heftily built with long, scraggly hair, Alhasar Manatad Limbong looked every inch a fearsome pirate. His five co-accused, also presented to the media yesterday, looked harmless by comparison.

He towered over Ms Montealegre, but that did not deter her from suddenly striking his left cheek with a resounding slap and landing a fist on his chest. He took the blows without reaction.

For Ms Montealegre, it was a small but deeply satisfying payback for more than five months of torture she suffered at the hands of Limbong and the Abu Sayyaf bandit group led by Limbong's cousin, Khaddafy Manatad Janjalani.

Her fellow kidnap victims - Lucio and Divina Recio, Maria Fe Rosadeno, Roland Ullah and Roel Guillo - contented themselves with pointing an accusing finger at several of the detainees, all wearing orange prison shirts.

Mrs Recio's voice trembled in anger as she pointed at Limbong and said: "He is the one who barged into our room [at Dos Palmas Resort] and the one we had to negotiate with for the release of our son."

Yesterday the United States government requested Limbong's extradition "for conspiracy to commit hostage-taking" of American nationals Gracia and Martin Burnham and for "conspiracy to commit hostage-taking resulting to the death" of American national Guillermo Sobero.

The three Americans, together with Ms Montealegre and 16 others, were seized at gunpoint by Limbong and his band three years ago on May 27 at Dos Palmas Resort in the remote island of Palawan.

Limbong and the five other men were arrested on March 26, 27 and 28 in Manila on grounds of conspiring to carry out "Madrid-type bombings" in the nation's capital.

They have been arraigned for illegal possession of 50kg of TNT and a handgun, Justice Department prosecutor Nestor Lazaro said. Their relatives have accused the police of "planting" evidence. Because of this, they are more likely to land in jail on kidnap charges.

Witnesses accuse Limbong of beheading Sobero and at least three other men, including a priest.

April 7, 2004, Philippine Daily Inquirer, US wants Abu suspect extradited for kidnap-slay, by Leila B. Salaverria, Christian V. Esguerra and Philip C. Tubeza
THE US GOVERNMENT has asked the National Bureau of Investigation to start extradition proceedings on one of six suspected Abu Sayyaf members arrested last month for allegedly planning to bomb establishments in Metro Manila.

The bureau received the extradition request on Alhamzer Manatad Limbong alias Kosovo, signed by US legal attache Jeffrey Cole, from the Department of Justice yesterday, NBI Interpol chief Ricardo Diaz told reporters.

But Kosovo will not be sent to the United States just yet because he is facing charges here of kidnapping for ransom, murder and illegal possession of firearms and explosives, Diaz said.

The US government wants Kosovo so he can stand trial for the 2001 kidnapping of Americans Guillermo Sobero and Martin and Gracia Burnham from the Dos Palmas Resort in Palawan, and for the subsequent killing of Sobero and Martin Burnham. But Diaz said it would have to wait for the local cases against Kosovo to be resolved.

Gracia Burnham is expected back in the Philippines to testify against four of the six suspected Abu Sayyaf members, state prosecutor Nestor Lazaro said.

"She'll be here by the middle of the year," Lazaro told reporters at Camp Crame. "We're just taking the testimony of local witnesses first."

According to Diaz, the extradition request is "merely a formality" because Kosovo is facing charges here. "The local charges will take precedence over those filed by the US," the lawyer said.

At the US court for the District of Columbia, Kosovo is also facing the charge of conspiracy to commit hostage-taking, resulting in the death and hostage-taking and murder of a US national, among others, for the Dos Palmas abductions.

He has been indicted along with Khadafi Janjalani, Isnilon Totoni Hapilon, Aldam Itlao, Jainal Antel Sali Jr., Hamsiraji Marusi Sali, Wahar Opao, Bakkal Totoni Hapilon and Abdul Azzam Ngaya. (Their names are spelled thus in the NBI press statement based on US documents.)

According to Diaz, the extradition request also signifies that Kosovo may not be as innocent as claimed by those protesting his and the five other men's arrest.

No visible marks

"We are [making public the extradition request] so that people won't jump to the conclusion that these arrested people are innocent," Diaz said, adding that if one of the arrested men was facing charges in the United States, it could mean that they were not just fall guys, as some groups had alleged.

At Camp Crame, officials presented the six alleged Abu Sayyaf members to the media in an effort to dispel suspicion that they had been tortured into admitting a supposed plan to launch a "Madrid-type" bomb attack in Metro Manila.

Kosovo and his fellows-Redendo Cain Dellosa, Radzman Sangkula Jul, Abdusaid Sanjeng Lim alias Abu Hanipa, Walter Villanueva and Marvin Rueca-showed no visible marks to suggest that they had been tortured, as claimed by relatives and fellow Muslims.

"We presented them to dispel doubts that the arrests were stage-managed," Chief Supt. Ismael Rafanan told reporters in Filipino after the press conference. "You see ... they were accorded legal rights. The arrests were honest-to-goodness operations to protect the welfare of the people."

Director General Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., chief of the Philippine National Police, shot down suggestions that the PNP was cracking down on members of the Muslim community.

"Just because some Muslims were arrested doesn't mean all Muslim are involved [in terrorist activities]," he said at the press conference. "We have to return to the evidence. We are actually targeting a specific group."

The NBI's Diaz said agents of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation would come to Manila to check if the men arrested along with Kosovo were among those indicted earlier in the United States of involvement in the Dos Palmas kidnappings.

Government witnesses

Six government witnesses showed up at the press conference and identified the arrested men as among their abductors.

Trembling, Maria Fe Rosadeno slapped suspect Lim in the presence of Ebdane and other top police, military and justice officials. Angie Montealegre was restrained before she could hit Lim and the others.

Buddy Recio and his wife Divina identified Kosovo and company as part of the Abu Sayyaf team behind the Dos Palmas kidnappings and the siege of Lamitan, Basilan, days later.

Three Americans and 17 Filipinos were taken by the Abu Sayyaf from the resort in Palawan on May 27, 2001. Most of the Filipinos were later released after their families paid ransom, but Sobero, a California resident, was beheaded.

The Burnhams, both missionaries, were among the last hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf along with nurse Edibora Yap. Martin Burnham and Yap were killed in 2002 in a military rescue operation in Mindanao.

Recio, who was among those freed earlier, had testified during an inquiry that he paid P1 million for the release of Montealegre, his sister-in-law.

Ronald Ulla, the Filipino kidnapped with a number of foreigners from the Sipadan island resort in Malaysia in 2000, was also present to implicate the arrested men.

Ask Robin

Recio, Montealegre and Rosadeno went to the Department of Justice to protest suggestions that the arrested men were fall guys.

A travel magazine publisher, Recio said actor Robin Padilla "should know Kosovo, and probably Hanipa [Lim] because he went up there."

He said Kosovo was at the Abu Sayyaf camp in Basilan when the actor went there in April 2000 in an attempt to negotiate the release of students who had been taken hostage.

Padilla, a convert to Islam, has joined other Muslims in protesting the raids on Muslim communities as well as plans to impose an ID system on Muslims in Metro Manila.

Asked whether Padilla should deny recognizing the arrested men, Recio said: "Well, that I cannot understand. That's why we are somewhat hurt. Parang medyo napikon that our efforts to identify them are being belittled.

"It's not that easy to identify them, you know. Kosovo even shaved his beard, but he was still captured. Walang lusot sila (They can't escape)."

Said Montealegre: "That's why we are here-to affirm that these arrested Abu Sayyaf members were the same ones we saw in Basilan and who held us for six months."

Sweating but smiling

Recio described Kosovo as a hardened bandit who attacked an armored personnel carrier with a recoilless rifle during the Lamitan siege on June 2, 2001, killing a military lieutenant.

"He came back sweating but he was smiling," Recio said.

Kosovo is said to be the second cousin of fugitive Abu Sayyaf leader Khadaffy Janjalani. He has also been linked to the 2002 bombing in Malagutay, Zamboanga City, wherein an American soldier was killed.

Recio and Montealegre said it was Kosovo who entered their rooms when the bandits raided the Dos Palmas resort.

"Kosovo barged into our room with four [other bandits]. We can't forget his face because he was one of those who barged in, and he was very visible," Recio said, adding:

"He was very involved in our incarceration. Like, he asked us when we were on board the speedboat if we knew them. He was also the one I talked to first when I tried to negotiate for the release of my son, RJ."

Rosadeno said it was Kosovo who ordered the three resort staff members they left behind to tell the military not to attempt any rescue or the hostages would be killed.

She said Kosovo was among those who killed Sobero: "He was the one who tied Guillermo's feet and hands. He also hit Guillermo on the body with a rifle."

'All the same'

Recio said Kosovo was some sort of a "sub-commander" of the Abu Sayyaf, but was "very low-key."

He said the Abu Sayyaf members were "all the same" in their cruelty.

"They'll give you food because you're part of their business. If they don't feed you and you die, they'll have no more ransom. It's as simple as that," Recio said.

"As regards their credo of being a separatist movement, I don't think they're like that. For me, they're a kidnap-for-ransom group. They're terrorists," he added.

State prosecutor Lazaro said Kosovo was known as "The Engineer" among his victims and was the "most ruthless" of the six arrested men.

"Even prior to his arrest, he was being mentioned by witnesses as Sayyaf," Lazaro said, referring to another supposed alias of Kosovo's.

He said local witnesses had identified Kosovo as the one who beheaded two teachers whom the Abu Sayyaf abducted along with 43 others from four schools in Sumisip, Basilan, on March 20, 2000, and who executed Fr. Rhoel Gallardo on May 3, 2000.

Gallardo was among those kidnapped when the Abu Sayyaf stormed the Tumahubong East Elementary School, Sinangkapan Elementary School, Sinangkapan National High School and Claret High School.

Mark Jalandoni, head of the DOJ Witness Protection Program, said the government had around 10 witnesses to testify against the arrested men.

April 17, 2004, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Give the mayors power over police,

November 8, 2004, BusinessWorld, Foreign national kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf dead - MILF,

November 22, 2004, Gulf News, More join hunt for the elusive Abu Sayyaf chief,

February 12, 2005, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Abu Sayyaf chief's aide falls,

February 18, 2005, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Religious scholar, actor-to-be lead rebels,
700+ words

A RELIGIOUS leader who served as a spiritual adviser to Moro rebels and a notorious bandit who dreamed of becoming a movie star were two of the key figures in the recent Sulu violence and the Valentine's Day bombings.

The religious leader is Habier Malik, whom the military has blamed for leading Moro National Liberation Front rebels in attacking an Army detachment in Sulu on Feb. 7. The ensuing gun battles left 71 people dead, including an Army battalion commander and 30 soldiers.

The notorious bandit is Zain Sali Jr., aka Abu Sulayman. The spokesperson of the Abu Sayyaf said his group was responsible for the Feb. 14 bomb attacks in the cities of Davao, General Santos and Makati that left at least seven people dead and hundreds wounded.

Deputy House Speaker for Mindanao Gerry Salapuddin, former MNLF chair in Basilan, described Malik as a respected religious leader and spiritual adviser of jailed MNLF founder Nur Misuari.

Salapuddin said he last saw Malik at the signing of the peace agreement between the government and the MNLF in 1996 during the Ramos administration.

Spiritual figurehead

"I've known him not really as a commander but as a religious scholar," Salapuddin said. "He may be leading the attacks but not necessarily joining the fight. He is probably the spiritual figurehead of the Moro rebels involved."

Sulu Rep. Hussin Amin described the 45-year-old Malik, a graduate of Islamic Studies in Saudi Arabia, as a patient man. Before the attacks in Sulu, Malik chaired the Regional Unification Commission.

"He was active in bringing peace to warring families in Sulu. He is a man of peace. It is safe to conclude that Ustadz Habier Malik commands great respect and following not only in the province of Sulu, but also in the nearby provinces. He has the support of the people," Amin said.

The lawmaker chided the media for referring to Malik and his group as "Misuari loyalists" that gave the impression that the Sulu violence was a continuation of past conflicts between the MNLF and the military.

Turning point

Amin said the present Sulu conflict had nothing to do with Misuari who is undergoing trial on rebellion charges in connection with MNLF attacks on military camps in 2001.

Amin said his contacts had told him that the Sulu hostilities were triggered by the massacre of a family in Barangay Kapuk Punggol, Maimbung, on Feb. 1, 2005. Salip Paie, a relative of well-known MNLF leader Najar Padiwan, his pregnant wife and another child, were reportedly killed by Army soldiers.

"This was the turning point among the remaining MNLF members who for years have kept their patience in the face of reports of atrocities committed by the military in Sulu," Amin said.

He said Malik's group attacked Army soldiers on Feb. 7 to give justice to the victims of the massacre.

Abu Sulayman

The Sulu conflict took on a new twist on Feb. 14 when Abu Sulayman, the Abu Sayyaf spokesperson, told a radio station that his group was responsible for the deadly bomb attacks in the three cities.

Abu Sulayman said his group would not spare innocent people "to exact vengeance on the military" for its Sulu campaign.

Abu Sulayman's townmates in Lantawan, Basilan, said the 42-year-old Abu Sayyaf spokesperson was a civil engineering graduate who once dreamed of becoming a movie actor while still a student in Manila in the 1980s.

Another source said Sali had envied actor-TV host John Estrada, a fellow Basile[currency]o, who had made it big in the entertainment industry.

Lantawan Mayor Tahira Ishmael-Sansawi said Abu Sulayman came from a respectable family. The mayor described as a "very righteous person" the bandit's father, Zain Sali Sr., who is the current municipal assessor of Lantawan.

Wife's wrath

Sansawi said the elder Sali had warned his son that his wicked ways would earn him the wrath of his wife and children. Abu Sulayman's wife, a doctor, filed for divorce under Shari'ah law in 2002 owing to her husband's "irresponsibility."

By then, Abu Sulayman had become an Abu Sayyaf spokesperson. His ties with the Abu Sayyaf began in 2000 when he met with the group's leader, Khadaffy Janjalani, and Aldam Tilao, aka Abu Sabaya. The military said Tilao was killed in a clash with government forces, but his body was never found.

Actors as negotiators

According to a source, it was Sali's idea to get then TV newscaster Noli de Castro and actor Robin Padilla to negotiate for the release of abducted schoolchildren in Basilan in exchange for truckloads of rice in 2000.

But the source said most of the rice was later found in warehouses of some Basilan businessmen who had bought the shipment from an Abu Sayyaf negotiator. Reports from Cynthia D. Balana in Manila and Nash B. Maulana, PDI Mindanao Bureau

April 23, 2006, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Abu chieftain ordered Jolo co-op bombing,

April 29, 2006, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Cops deny theyre scaring protesters,
Byline: Edson C. Tandoc Jr. and Luige A. del Puerto

METRO MANILA POLICE YESTERday brushed off accusations that the discovery of grenades they said were intended to be used by Abu Sayyaf terrorists to bomb street protests was a ploy to frighten antigovernment demonstrators.

These police operations we have been doing are all aimed at ensuring a peaceful May 1 celebration. We are taking preemptive measures, National Capital Region Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief Senior Supt. Asher Dolina said.

We can accept that accusation rather than being blamed, once something wrong happens, that we did not do anything. Lives lost cannot be recovered, he added.

Dolinas team had announced on Thursday it had recovered six grenades and an improvised bomb in a house in Marikina City, and said it believed the bombs were to be used by the Abu Sayyaf on Labor Day protests.

The team had pointed out that the bombs were equipped with shrapnel aimed at hurting people. The suspects would have used high explosive chemicals if they just wanted to bomb buildings, it said.

Dolina said they were still running after 10-12 Abu Sayyaf members, who had been using the rented house in Marikina City as a storehouse of explosives and a meeting place to discuss the alleged plan.

He would not confirm whether the suspected Abu Sayyaf members, including Jojo Janjalani who is believed to be a relative of Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khaddafy Janjalani, were still in Metro Manila and could still carry on the alleged plot.

Dolina said investigators were looking into bank slips found inside the alleged terrorist hideout. One of the slips, he said, came from a bank in southern Philippines and bore the name of the person maintaining the account.

We are trying to trace where the money came from and where it went, he said.

Militants saw in the reported seizure of explosives an elaborate script by the government to scare off people from joining protest actions on Monday.

They said that it was incredible that a month of monitoring the activities of suspected Abu Sayyaf men had failed to lead to a single arrest.

August 29, 2006, BBC Reports, Abu Sayyaf chief, Jemaah Islamiyah militants avoid Philippine military.

August 29, 2006, The Philippine Star, Janjalani, JI suspects escape to Basilan,

September 20, 2006, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Breeding new fighters in Sulu,

October 20, 2006, The Philippine Star, Philippine president orders deployment of more troops to Sulu.

June 3, 2009, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Top AFP execs pocketing bulk of rewards, says prof,
Wednesday, 608 words

ZAMBOANGA CITYHigh-ranking military officials are the ones benefiting from the United States Rewards for Justice Program and not the community or informants who helped in the arrest of terror suspects, according to peace advocates.

Octavio Dinampo, a professor at the Mindanao State University in Sulu, cited a village official in Patikul who was reportedly instrumental in locating the grave of slain Abu Sayyaf leader Khadaffy Janjalani.

The official has been complaining that he was one of those used as a dummy to collect the reward from the US government, but that he and his relatives only got a small amount because the bulk of the money went to some high military officials, Dinampo said.

It turned out that he and his relatives got pennies compared to the lions share taken by the facilitators-handlers of the reward money, Dinampo said.

Serious allegations

Lt. Esteffani Cacho, spokesperson of the militarys Western Mindanao Command said the allegations were serious, but for now I have to say that its not true. Cacho said there should be proof to support the allegations.

Father Cirilo Nacorda, a key witness in the investigation into the alleged collusion between some military officials and the Abu Sayyaf, said he knew of someone who was rewarded but could not enjoy the reward money because he was an asset of the Armed Forces.

A source told the Inquirer that high-ranking military officials had indeed facilitated the withdrawal of the reward money from a government bank here by some informants.

He said a military general has yet to account for the bulk of the money that was withdrawn.

This general has yet to account for P130 million out of P180 million withdrawn from the bank, the source said.

More effective system

Nacorda said that instead of giving rewards, the government should come up with a more effective system that ordinary people can feel.

The huge fund could be used to strengthen defense forces in the communities, educate people on how to protect and assert their rights, and how to fight and put a stop to this culture of fear, he said.

Based on his experience, Nacorda said the peace and security situation in Basilan has not improved even with the rewards system.

It actually worsened, because in the past, criminals and kidnappers lurked in the dark, and operated in the hinterlands. But now, kidnapping is done in daylight, killings and extortion letters could easily be delivered in some establishments, bandits attacking communities which are only being protected by civilian volunteers and Cafgus with limited resources, he said.

Dinampo said kidnappers have even become bolder in Sulu.

The US Rewards for Justice Program offers money for information that leads to the arrest or conviction of anyone who plans, commits or attempts international terrorist acts against US persons or property, prevents such acts from occurring, that leads to the location of a key terrorist leader, or that disrupts terrorism financing. Julie S. Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao

June 7, 2009, Philippine Daily Inquirer, US to look into fund messes Kenney,

July 16, 2009, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Devt key to end conflict, says MNLF exec,

July 23, 2009, Philippine Daily Inquirer, GMAs roller-coaster ride with 4 insurgencies,

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