Thursday, September 6, 2012

Texts: Time Magazine

April 4, 1995, Time Magazine, Philippine Slaughter,
April 17, 1995, Time Magazine, Death in the Afternoon,
April, 25, 2000, Time Magazine, Sometimes, Paradise Can Be a Nightmare, by Tony Karon,
May 2, 2000, Time Magazine, Philippines Government in Quandary on Hostages, by Tony Karon,
May 3, 2000, Time Magazine, Hostage Tourists May Not Need These 'Liberators', by Tony Karon,
May 8, 2000, Time Magazine, An Invasion of Paradise, by Terry McCarthy,
May 15, 2000, Time Magazine, World Watch, Jolo,
May 29, 2000, Time Magazine, Hostage Crisis, by Nisid Hajari,
May 29, 2000, Time Magazine, Acting Leader, by Terry McCarthy,
June 12, 2000, Time Magazine, Erap's Turn To Speak, by Joseph Estrada,
September 11, 2000, Time Magazine, World Watch, Zamboanga,
September 11, 2000, Time Magazine, Bungles in the Jungle, by Nisid Hajari,
September 18, 2000, Time Magazine, An American Caught in a Philippines Nightmare, by Tony Karon, 
September 25, 2000, Time Magazine, World Watch, Jakarta & Jolo,
October 1, 2000, Time Magazine, World Watch, Jolo,
October 16, 2000, Time magazine, World Watch, Jolo,
November 6, 2000, Time Magazine,World Watch, Manila,

April 4, 1995, Philippine Slaughter,
At least 100 people were killed this morning when about 200 heavily armed Muslim extremists stormed a southern Philippine town and fought with police and soldiers who had flown in with orders to "shoot to kill." Authorities do not know how many of the dead were the attackers, who robbed and set fires to businesses in Ipil, a town of 50,000 people. President Fidel Ramos declared a state of emergency in the town, which is about 480 miles south of Manila. The raiders were members of Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim rebel group fighting for a fundamentalist Muslim state in the southern Philippines, according to the government. The group is accused of bombings and ransom kidnappings and has been linked to a plot to kill Pope John Paul II and blow up American airliners over the Pacific. Police also claim that the group worked with Ramzi Yousef, the alleged mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing, in Manila and may have helped him escape.

April 17, 1995, Time Magazine, Death in the Afternoon,

April, 25, 2000, Time Magazine, Sometimes, Paradise Can Be a Nightmare, by Tony Karon,

A group of Western tourists kidnapped in Malaysia may have bumped into the hard reality driving the Leonardo DiCaprio movie "The Beach" — that a pristine Third World paradise turns out to be the stamping ground of elements whose agenda definitely doesn't include showing visitors a good time. Some 10 tourists from various countries are among the 21 hostages who were forced onto two boats on the remote island of Sipadan overnight Sunday by gunmen suspected of being members of a Philippines-based Islamic separatist movement. A spokesman for the Abu Ayyaf organization, a dwindling radical Islamic group with links to superterrorist Osama bin Laden, on Tuesday first claimed responsibility for the attack, and later (sort of) withdrew the statement, saying: "I'm not saying we are the ones; I'm also not saying we're not the ones — let's give the government a puzzle." Although Philippines officials were skeptical of the claims, the group — which has been eclipsed by the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front, currently in negotiations with the government — has resorted in recent months to a spate of kidnappings in a desperate bid to maintain its relevance.

If the kidnappers are indeed members of the skittish terrorist group and not simply some of the pirates for which the region is notorious, American tourists James and Mary Murphy, of Rochester, N.Y., may be even luckier than they first thought to have escaped their captors. Those currently held captive at an undisclosed location in Philippines waters include citizens of Finland, France, Germany, Lebanon, Malaysia and South Africa. But if they had managed to hold onto the two Americans who escaped during the raid on the Sipadan resort, that might have tempted the kidnappers to aim high in their demands. Although the kidnappers have issued no demands as yet, in previous kidnappings Abu Sayyaf has made demands ranging from insisting that the government include a popular local Muslim film star on its negotiating team (a demand that was met) to a call for the release of imprisoned World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and others convicted of terrorism in the U.S. The group also announced just last week that it had beheaded two Filipino hostages from a previous kidnapping as a "birthday present" to President Joseph Estrada. As the Philippine navy searches the countless small islands and inlets of its vast archipelago for signs of the group, the hostages may be ruing their choice of vacation destination. Paradise, sometimes, comes at a shocking price.

May 2, 2000, Time Magazine, Philippines Government in Quandary on Hostages, by Tony Karon,

Manila would like to take a tough line, but foreign pressure may act as a restraint

The Philippines government says the tourist hostages held on one of its southern islands are safe, but the ill-starred travelers could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Islamic separatist group holding the hostages vowed to decapitate two of the tourists — seized a week ago at an exclusive diving resort off Malaysia — unless the Philippines army withdraws troops surrounding the area where they're being held. But the Philippines government says retreat is out of the question. Besides having to cope with being held hostage by a fanatical organization fighting to stave off extinction at the hands of the government forces, the erstwhile vacationers are suffering from deteriorating health from a diet of rice and rainwater and growing anxiety of dying in a shoot-out. Although the government has appointed a former commander of a rival rebel group to negotiate with the abductors, it is holding to a tough security line, and engaged a group of rebels in a firefight Monday at the periphery of the camp where the hostages are being held.

In an almost surreal dimension of the standoff, while rebels and government troops square off almost within spitting distance of one another, TV crews and photographers have had access to the hostages, showing images of the 10 captives from Europe, Lebanon, South Africa and Malaysia pleading for the Philippines army to back off and negotiate a solution. That might be difficult, however, since the Abu Sayyaf group holding the hostages hasn't made a clear set of demands, prompting the government's appointed mediator to threaten to withdraw.

The group, which has boasted of links with Osama bin Laden, only a month ago seized some 50 students from schools on the island of Basilian and demanded that Manila secure the release by Washington of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and other convicted terrorists held in U.S. prisons. In this instance, they're assumed to want money, and the Philippines government isn't interested in paying. But the multinational makeup of the hostages has raised the pressure on Manila to do whatever it can to avoid bloodshed. With no solution in sight a week after the latest hostage drama began, and government forces having overrun the Abu Sayyaf base on Basilian (and failed to find the student hostages), obstacles to a peaceful outcome may be mounting.

May 3, 2000, Time Magazine, Hostage Tourists May Not Need These 'Liberators', by Tony Karon,

There's little cause for comfort in the Filipino military's record on dealing with terrorist situations

Adventurous travelers take note: If your sojourn on some island paradise turns into a terrorist nightmare, saving your skin is not the responsibility of the U.S. Marines, but of the local constabulary — and that could be where your troubles reallystart. The Filipino government Wednesday furiously denied rebel claims that two of the tourists being held hostage on the island of Jolo died during a firefight with government troops the previous day. But the government admitted the hostages had been whisked away, leaving behind their medicines, by the time the military captured the camp where they'd been held. And there was little cause for comfort in the latest news from the neighboring island of Basilian, where four hostages were killed and five others wounded when government troops opened fire on a group of rebels marching a different group of captives across a stream. "The Filipino police and military have at times been quite ham-handed in handling terrorist situations," says TIME correspondent William Dowell. "The government's record isn't particularly encouraging for the hostages in this situation."

Although the government continues to negotiate with the Muslim separatist Abu Sayyaf organization, which is holding the captives, they're refusing to accept the rebels' prime demand that the Filipino military end its siege of rebel camps. Indeed, daily reports of skirmishes paint a picture of the military chasing different groups of rebels (each holding their own hostages) around the islands of the southern Philippines, while Abu Sayyaf leaders issue demands as outlandish as their insistence that Manila pressure Washington into releasing World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef.

Meanwhile, says Dowell, the unending trauma of the group of tourists, who were seized over a week ago from the exclusive Malaysian diving resort of Sipadan, should make people think twice about signing up for some of the more exotic forms of adventure travel. "You have increasing tourism to more remote parts of the world now, and that often puts Westerners into the thick of local conflicts they weren't even aware of," says Dowell. "A foreigner rarely knows the situation into which he or she is traveling, and people tend to fool themselves that they're more secure than they really are. It's a pretty dangerous world out there."

May 8, 2000, Time Magazine, An Invasion of Paradise, by Terry McCarthy,

How a mass abduction at an exclusive resort played into jungle warfare across a pirate-filled sea

Easter Sunday was just another day in paradise for James and Mary Murphy of Rochester, N.Y. They had come to the $250-a-night resort of Sipadan Island, off the east coast of Malaysia, to swim among the coral, turtles and parrot fish. But that evening, as they dined with the other tourists, six armed assailants turned up. Shouting "Move it, goddam, move it!" the intruders ordered everyone to swim to boats waiting offshore.

The Murphys were lucky. James Murphy noted that the men did not seem to behave like the pirates who roamed the South China Sea; they showed little interest in the tourists' valuables as they cut the phone lines. Thinking quickly, he told them his wife could not swim and was unable to make it to the boats. Nonplussed, the invaders turned away long enough for the Murphys to hide in the undergrowth. Last week, at a hotel in Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, James said, "If they would have taken us, we'd have been the only American hostages." That would have been truly unlucky, because the abductors were not only marauders but also distinctly anti-American.

The other tourists were not so lucky. Three Germans, two French, two South Africans, two Finns and a Lebanese were herded onto the boats with nine Malaysian and two Filipino resort workers. Under cover of darkness they were taken to Jolo island, in the southern Philippines, about an hour away. For days the captors' identity was a mystery, with speculation running from plain pirates to Abu Sayyaf, the most feared Muslim rebel group in the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines. At midweek the Philippine Defense Secretary confirmed that the hostages were being held by Galib Andang, a.k.a. "Commander Robot," the Abu Sayyaf leader on Jolo and perpetrator of other kidnappings. He wanted a multimillion-dollar ransom. Late in the week Abu Sayyaf allowed a free-lance journalist a glimpse at what the Murphys had avoided: almost all the hostages were ill, hungry and dehydrated. And the captors insisted on new political and economic demands.

The tourists were now linked to a crisis in the southern Philippines. A month earlier, Abu Sayyaf fighters had kidnapped 53 people, including 22 children, from schools on Basilan Island, 50 miles northeast of Jolo. They demanded that the Philippine government persuade U.S. President Bill Clinton to release Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing, who is serving a life-plus-240-year sentence in Colorado. When Philippine President Joseph Estrada rejected the demand, the rebels announced that they had beheaded two hostages. Estrada ordered his military to launch an assault on the Abu Sayyaf camp, and one day later, the hostages were taken in Sipadan.

Abu Sayyaf, meaning "Bearer of the Sword," was set up in 1991 by Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, a veteran of the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan. With some 600 fighters, Abu Sayyaf says, it is struggling for an independent Muslim state, but its actions have been little more than localized terror and kidnapping. It is known to receive support from the Middle East, though claims that Osama bin Laden visited its operations have never been proved. In 1993 Abu Sayyaf rolled grenades down the aisle of a Catholic cathedral and killed seven worshippers. In 1995 its fighters invaded a Christian village and killed 53 people.

We may be small in number, but we have plenty fighting with us--the angels and the hand of Allah," Abu Sayyaf's current leader, Khadaffy Janjalani, told TIME on two-way radio. Khadaffy, who took over after government forces killed his brother in 1998, spoke as his camp was being attacked by the Philippine military. "We dream of an entire Islamic world, and we will achieve it. Allah is with us. Just now three bombs turned out to be duds--they did not explode."

Abu Sayyaf's objectives may sound unreal--600 rebels are not going to overturn a country of 79 million people anytime soon, let alone convert the world. But last week the Philippine military was bogged down as troops faced an enemy at home among jungle and land mines. Zealotry only makes dealing with the guerrillas more hazardous. "How do you negotiate with guys like that?" asked an Estrada aide last week. "They're crazy."
--Reported by Nelly Sindayen/Basilan

May 8, 2000, Time, Magazine, Trouble in Paradise, by Terry McCarthy,

Easter Sunday was just another day in paradise for James and Mary Murphy--until the guys with the AK-47s and rocket launchers turned up. After a day of diving and lounging on the beach, the Murphys and the other tourists on Sipadan Island off the east coast of Malaysia were having dinner when six armed men burst in and ordered them onto boats waiting offshore. The Murphys, from Rochester, New York, had come to the exclusive $250-a-night resort of Sipadan for its world-renowned corals, turtles, sharks and parrotfish. Instead they found themselves confronted by men pointing guns at them and shouting orders. The men, it turned out, were Muslim separatists from the Philippines' shadowy Abu Sayyaf terrorist organization.

With a tradition of taking foreign hostages--and killing civilians--the Abu Sayyaf are the most feared rebel group in the predominantly Catholic Philippines. The organization maintains links with international terrorist leaders, including Osama bin Laden and Ramzi Yousef, the man convicted of plotting the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City.

Although James Murphy initially didn't know who the armed men were, he was worried. They showed little interest in the tourists' valuables, he noted, but wanted them to board their boat. They had cut the phone lines to the island, so nobody could call for help. With the kidnappers shouting Move it, goddamn, move it! to the Americans and 10 other foreign tourists, Murphy took a big chance. He told the armed men that his wife could not swim and was unable to make it to the boat. The pirates turned away long enough for the Murphys to run into the undergrowth of the tropical island, where they hid for the rest of the night.

The other travelers were not so lucky. Three Germans, two French, two South Africans, two Finns and a Lebanese were herded onto the waiting boats together with nine Malaysians and two Filipino workers from the resort. Under cover of darkness they were taken to Jolo island in the southern Philippines, about an hour away by sea. For several days their fate was a mystery, until Philippine Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado finally confirmed what many had suspected all along: the hostages were being held by the local Abu Sayyaf leader on Jolo island, Galib Andang, who goes by the alias Commander Robot. Andang was behind several previous assaults, including the 1998 kidnapping of three Hong Kong citizens in the Sulu islands.

Efforts to negotiate the release of the latest hostages were continuing through the weekend with the appointment of former Muslim rebel leader Nur Misuari as Manila's negotiator. Misuari traveled to Jolo to open communications with the kidnappers. Once head of the Moro National Liberation Front, an Islamic separatist group, Misuari went over to the government after peace talks in 1996. He still commands respect among Muslims in the southern Philippines. The kidnappers reportedly told Misuari they want money and restoration of fishing rights in exchange for the hostages. President Joseph Estrada told TIME, however, that he isn't prepared to meet the demands. No way, you cannot keep paying, Estrada said. That's why we have so much kidnapping in the Philippines. The President shows every sign of sticking to the hard line he has adopted since the start of the incident. Abu in Tagalog means 'ash,' says Estrada, and that is what we are going to turn them into.

Far away from the action, ensconced in a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, the Murphys are now counting their blessings. We're even luckier than we first thought, James told reporters soon after the couple's escape. Talk about a sense of relief. We would have been the only American hostages; that would have been really scary.

Though they didn't realize it at first, the tourists have been plunged into a complicated and brutal kidnap drama that reaches across the Sulu islands, an area long known for piracy, smuggling and general lawlessness. A month earlier, Abu Sayyaf fighters had seized 50 people from schools on Basilan island, some 80 km northeast of Jolo. Their demand was bizarre: that Manila must persuade American President Bill Clinton to release Yousef, the World Trade Center bomber currently serving a 240-year sentence in the U.S. Estrada rejected the demand out of hand. In response, the rebels announced several days before Easter that they had beheaded two of their hostages. Estrada ordered his military to go in hard: on April 22, the government launched an air and ground assault on the Abu Sayyaf camp to free the remaining captives. A day later, the latest batch of hostages were grabbed in Sipadan, upping the stakes for Manila once again.

Abu Sayyaf, which in Arabic means Bearer of the Sword, was set up in 1991 by Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, a veteran of the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan. With some 600 fighters, Abu Sayyaf says it is struggling for an independent Muslim state in the southern Philippines. But most of its actions have amounted to little more than localized terrorism and kidnapping for ransom. The group is known to receive money and support from the Middle East, although claims that Osama bin Laden visited the region in the early 1990s have never been confirmed. Abu Sayyaf has a record of tossing explosives into buses and shopping centers, and in 1993 it killed seven worshipers by rolling grenades down the aisle of the Catholic cathedral in Davao. In 1995 Abu Sayyaf fighters invaded the Christian village of Ipil on Mindanao Island, walking down the main street and shooting anything that moved. When they left, 53 people were dead. Over the years they have kidnapped Spanish nuns, Hong Kong fishery workers, a U.S. bible translator and a Taiwanese grandmother.

We may be small in number, but we have plenty fighting with us--the angels and the hand of Allah, Abu Sayyaf's current leader, Khadaffy Janjalani, told Time in an interview via two-way radio last week. Khadaffy, who took over the group after his brother was killed by government forces in 1998, was speaking from the rebel camp in Basilan as it was being attacked by the Philippine military. We dream of an entire Islamic world, and we will achieve it, the rebel leader says. Allah is with us: just now three bombs turned out to be duds, they did not explode.

As the hostage drama drags on, Estrada is feeling the pressure. Our priority is the safety of the hostages, he told TIME. But we're going to finish them off this time. The Philippine military's assault on the Abu Sayyaf base on Basilan has been going slowly, however, as troops cope with dense jungle, land mines and an enemy that knows the terrain better. According to one officer, government soldiers do not dare to move at night for fear of being cut down by friendly fire.

Abu Sayyaf's political objectives may seem unreal: 600 rebels are not going to overturn a country of 73 million people anytime soon, let alone convert the entire world to Islam. But this only makes dealing with them more hazardous. How do you negotiate with guys like that? asks one of Estrada's top aides. They're crazy. Solving that problem, however, could mean the difference between life and death for several dozen hostages.

With reporting by Ken Stier/Kuala Lumpur and Nelly Sindayen/Basilan

May 15, 2000, Time Magazine, Crisis Situation, by Terry McCarthy,

An ongoing hostage drama in the Philippines is tarnishing President Estrada's image and undermining confidence in his administration.

Welcome to Jolo reads the white painted sign over the wharf. But there is scant welcome for anyone on the island these days. On the quayside, locals are crowding onto boats to get out. Jolo has become kidnap central, the most dangerous place in the Philippines, and anyone who can is leaving. They have good reason: barely half an hour's drive from the port, 21 hostages, mostly foreigners, are being held by 200 Muslim fighters from the feared Abu Sayyaf separatist group. These rebels are surrounded by 2,000 government troops. Everyone fears trouble is coming.

Just when President Joseph Estrada thought things could not get worse in his troubled presidency, things got worse. Battling domestic critics of his handling of the economy, he suddenly finds himself facing two separate hostage situations and a rash of bombings in the Muslim south--and six foreign governments desperate to get their nationals back without loss of life. Ten Malaysians, three Germans, two French, two South Africans, two Finns and a Lebanese along with a Filipina were taken to Jolo two weeks ago from the Malaysian resort island of Sipadan. Their embassies in Manila have been calling for a peaceful resolution to the crisis. The ensuing events have done little to reassure them.

Last Monday, a female doctor in Jolo was allowed to visit the foreign hostages and found them in poor health with low morale. The kidnappers say we will be here for two months, said South African captive Monique Styrdom. I don't think anyone will survive this. The doctor gave them some medicines and recommended that two be hospitalized, but she was forced to leave without taking any of the hostages with her.

A day later, the rebels holding the foreign hostages fired at government troops they said were getting too close to their position. One soldier was killed, and the rebels claimed two of the hostages also died during the fighting, although the government later denied any foreigners had been killed. All efforts to open negotiations with the hostage takers were then suspended.

The following day on the island of Basilan, just 80 km northeast of Jolo, troops seeking to free 27 Filipinos held by another Abu Sayyaf faction engaged their captors in a firefight. These hostages had been taken from two schools on March 20, and included a number of children. By the end of the confrontation, four hostages were dead, 15 were rescued--some of them badly injured--and eight were still missing. The army said the operation was a success, but Estrada knows he cannot afford many more successes like that. Foreign investors are getting jittery about the violence in the south, the Manila Stock Exchange is at an 18-month low and the President, who has cultivated a reputation for being tough on crime, is now looking vulnerable.

Estrada came to power vowing to use the fertile soil and typhoon-free climate of Mindanao to make the southern island into the breadbasket of the Philippines. Since the early 1970s Mindanao has been wracked by warfare between Muslim separatists and the predominantly Catholic central government. Former President Fidel Ramos made some progress in pacifying the rebels, but under Estrada the peace talks have stalled. On Wednesday, the largest separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, used the distraction of the Abu Sayyaf kidnappings to stage its own attacks on several locations in Mindanao, leaving 35 dead. The airport in Cotabato was closed after a mortar hit the runway, and the southern fishing port of General Santos was shut down almost entirely by a series of bombings around the town. Further bombings followed on Saturday--five people were killed in a bus explosion in Surigao--just hours into a 48-hour ceasefire declared by the group. Estrada had earlier vowed to get tough on all of the Muslim rebels, promising all-out war if they did not sign a peace agreement by the end of June. But since the foreign hostages were taken on April 23, his freedom to act has been constrained.

For the time being, Estrada is pinning his hopes for the release of the foreigners on the negotiating tactics of Nur Misuari, a former Muslim rebel leader who came over to the government side as the result of a peace agreement in 1996. On Friday Misuari said he had reopened contact with Abu Sayyaf. His emissaries on Jolo had assured him all the foreigners were still alive, although two had sustained minor injuries during the firefight earlier in the week and were receiving treatment for their wounds. Misuari said he expected a list of demands, including a monetary ransom, to be handed over within days. Even though Estrada has ruled out paying ransom, Misuari says it will be called money to cover the lodging costs for the hostages, along with some funds for economic development of the island. Several foreign governments are understood to be prepared to pay to get their nationals out, and some are trying to persuade Manila to allow foreign negotiators to take part in talks with the kidnappers. We are now in the eye of the storm, says Misuari, who counsels patience in dealing with Abu Sayyaf.

Others are more eager to confront the militants head on. We are sure to pulverize them to pulp, says police superintendent Candido Casimiro, the provincial commander in Jolo. Be assured that we have enough men to do the job. Most people on Jolo appear to have turned against Abu Sayyaf, which has squandered whatever sympathy it once enjoyed for its purported goal of achieving a separate Muslim state in the south. The latest kidnapping crisis has only intensified local opposition to the group. They are like the plague, says Zeny Masong, who works for a local radio station. For years Abu Sayyaf fighters have extorted protection money from the local population to finance their operations. Families who run businesses or have relatives earning money overseas are liable to receive a letter from the rebels demanding money--with an unvoiced threat if they don't comply.

An ominous calm now shrouds the town of Jolo, and the streets are deserted long before the official 9 p.m. curfew. Some shops stay closed all day. Residents say they have seen some of the Abu Sayyaf fighters in the town, and there are fears of more kidnappings. Late last week a Malaysian journalist was forcibly taken to a jeep from outside his Jolo hotel by six men but then released.

By the end of the week, the captors had reportedly split the foreign hostages into four groups, making any attempt at a rescue even more difficult. In charge of the hostages was the notorious Commander Robot, a moustachioed, long-haired man in his 40s with much experience in kidnapping for ransom, and his sidekick, the one-armed fighter Commander Raddulan. They have threatened to behead two of the hostages if the government does not negotiate. Misuari, for one, thinks they are not bluffing: What they are doing is an act of desperation--they are suicidal.

For Estrada, the situation is equally desperate. The Philippines is already starting to fall behind the rest of Asia's economic recovery. In its latest forecast, the Asian Development Bank predicts the Philippines' GDP growth will be the lowest of all countries in the Asian region, even lagging behind such troubled economies as Indonesia, Vietnam and Burma. The multiple hostage crises and bombing attacks are the worst possible P.R. in the eyes of foreign investors. Political risk is something investors thought they could put behind them in most of South East Asia these days. Tragically, it is again becoming a fact of life in the Philippines--from Jolo to Manila.

May 15, 2000, Time Magazine, World WatchJolo,

Two separate hostage crises convulsed the Philippines. Muslim rebels from the Islamic separatist group Abu Sayyaf held 20 foreign tourists, kidnaped from a Malaysian resort late last month, captive on the island of Jolo. A skirmish between the rebels and government troops left at least one soldier dead; the separatists claimed that two hostages were killed in the firefight. Meanwhile, on the nearby island of Basilan troops seeking to free 27 Filipino hostages held by another Abu Sayyaf faction mounted their own rescue attempt, after which four hostages were dead, 15 were rescued — some of them badly injured — and eight were still missing. The twin crises have undermined Philippine President Joseph Estrada's pledge to crack down on the separatists, who have warred with the government since the '70s.

May 29, 2000, Time Magazine, Hostage Crisis, by Nisid Hajari,

In the Jungle, the waiting game goes on and on

After nearly a month in the jungle, the 21 foreign hostages held by Abu Sayyaf rebels on Jolo Island were in no mood for further delays. Yet, just as it appeared that Manila had finally set up a framework for talks with the insurgents last week, the government's negotiating team was held up in the capital by bad weather. Then on Thursday, the date set for starting talks, three grenades were lobbed into a crowded Jolo market and another near the police station in nearby Zamboanga City, killing five people and injuring several dozen. Face-to-face negotiations stalled over the weekend and the rebels warned the discussions could drag on for weeks.

"We can only press so much, because if they know that we want it done quickly, they might raise what they are asking for," says presidential emissary Robert Aventajado, a member of the government's four-man negotiating team. According to Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon, rebel leaders originally demanded $1 million for the release of one of the hostages, an ailing German woman. According to Aventajado, Manila is prepared to pay only about $165 per hostage--for "food and lodging." Says the presidential emissary: "No more, no less--but especially no more because we don't want them to buy more arms with the money, as this could mean more kidnappings."

That stance could cut the negotiations short. The rebels' demands, which government negotiators insist must be written down, are much more elaborate, including the establishment of an independent Muslim state in the southern Philippines and the imposition of Islamic law in the area. Their list reads like an aggrieved political manifesto, accusing Manila of years of abuse and neglect of the country's Muslims, who claim to number 10 million out of a population of 76 million.

For the hostages, the gap between the two sides may mean extended captivity. Ten battalions of army troops surround the rebels' hideout on Jolo, and many voices are urging President Joseph Estrada to take a tougher line. "You cannot afford to have several takes here like in the movies," says a high-ranking military official, alluding to Estrada's past career as an actor. "In other words, he should start kicking ass." The hostages have appealed to the European Union and to their respective governments to join in the negotiations, and according to journalists who visited the camp last week, their spirits are beginning to flag. "Nobody can survive this," said Monique Styrdom, a South African captive.

The urgency of the situation has begun to impress itself upon Estrada, who cut short a visit to China after the grenade attacks. And negotiators sound optimistic. "We just have to be patient," Aventajado said just before flying back to Jolo last Thursday. "It won't be long before we resolve this problem." The hostages, though, could be forgiven for greeting those words with skepticism.

May 29, 2000, Acting Leader, by Terry McCarthy,

Ex-film star Joseph Estrada's backslapping style served him well as a small-town mayor but can't help him solve the Philippines' abundant woes

It is Joseph Estrada's birthday, April 19, and he is visiting Taytay, a slum-redevelopment area north of Manila. In a dusty square beside a half-finished housing project, the Philippine President sits down with cabinet ministers and several local inhabitants to plates of rice and roast pig. As they eat, an old man in tattered clothes is ushered through the crowd. The President recognizes the man, who had been a security guard in San Juan 15 years ago, when Estrada was the town's mayor. Master of the common touch, Estrada converses warmly for several minutes. As the man turns to go, the President pulls out his wallet and discreetly slips his old buddy a few bills.

Go back one month. Perfecto Yasay, the Philippine Stock Exchange Commissioner, goes public with allegations that Estrada asked him repeatedly to block an investigation into Dante Tan, a gambling magnate accused of share-price manipulation. Tan is also a buddy of Estrada's. Yasay is talking about the scandal on Debate, a late-night TV show, when the switchboard gets an unusual call. It is from Malacanang, the presidential palace, and the guy who lives there wants to go on air. The engineer patches him through, and Estrada launches into a tirade against Yasay, the man who threatens to ruin his friend. You're such a liar, the President rants. He accuses Yasay of seeking a 1 million peso ($24,000) bribe and calls on the heavens to blast him with lightning.

Estrada likes to keep things personal. It is both part of his charm and his greatest failing, an endearing trait of an aging actor but a screaming liability in a man entrusted with the fate of 76 million Filipinos. The President has vowed to change--since January he has overhauled his administration to give more responsibility for policy to technocrat advisers. But that runs against his own instincts. In a country where kinship ties far outweigh institutional loyalty, Estrada still seems to see himself in the role of Marlon Brando in The Godfather, looking after his friends and making his enemies offers they can't refuse. In Estrada's eyes, there appears to be little difference between giving a security guard a couple hundred pesos and helping a billionaire business associate out of a fix. When Estrada had lunch recently with the American Chamber of Commerce, the topic turned to finding land for a new international-school campus. The President whipped out his mobile phone, spoke to his Education Secretary, then handed the phone to U.S. Ambassador Thomas Hubbard, saying: Here, you explain it to him. The code of loyalty is reflected even in his nickname, Erap, which is the reverse spelling of pare, Filipino slang for buddy. He is a very good friend, to a fault, says Nelson Navarro, a Manila newspaper columnist. Being a good friend, he can't say no.

And that, of course, is the problem. As the future brightens for the rest of Asia, the Philippines continues to limp from one crisis to the next--from today's renewed warfare and hostage drama in the south, to the near closure of the stock exchange in March to a series of scandals involving cronies of the President that sap investor confidence. Each problem cries out for delicate, reasoned management. Instead the fate of the nation depends on Estrada getting on his mobile phone, often in the early hours of the morning, to persuade a friend to call a colleague to help out a buddy. The result: confusion and inertia. In the space of three weeks, Estrada has appointed three different negotiators to free the 21 hostages kidnapped from a Malaysian diving resort and held on the southern island of Jolo. Not surprisingly, the government still hasn't received a list of the hostage-takers' demands.

The most serious problem of Estrada's administration is the President's indebtedness to a cabal of businessmen, many of them ethnic Chinese, who are regarded with increasing xenophobia by Manila's self-styled Hispanic-lite. These corporate climbers donated huge sums to Estrada's 1998 election campaign. The President probably didn't need all their money: he easily beat the nine other candidates with 40% of the vote, compared with just 13% for his closest rival, Jose de Venecia. But it gave the cronies a seat at the table--or at the bar, in the legendary late-night drinking sessions that got Aprodicio Laquian fired in March when the then-chief of staff said he was often the only person sober in the room at four o'clock in the morning. The perception that a carousing Estrada has been handing out favors--like calling off a tax investigation into Philippine Airlines head Lucio Tan, or making Mark Jimenez, a fugitive from U.S. justice, presidential adviser on Latin America--has done more damage to the presidency than any of Estrada's other gaffes. It took him a year and a half to realize that he was President for all, not just for his friends, says opposition Senator Raul Roco.

Ever since the days of strongman Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippines has been struggling to develop the rule of law and governmental institutions that are not subject to the whim of one man. There is no sign that Estrada is stealing from the public purse as Marcos did. But the President's personalized form of government and indebtedness to friends is unerringly pulling the Philippines back into its bad old patron-client habits. Meanwhile, society isn't progressing. One third of the population is below the official poverty line, the annual birth rate averages a whopping 2.3% and the country's economic growth, forecast by the Asian Development Bank at 3.8% this year, will put the Philippines close to the bottom in Asia. The country is barely keeping its head above water.

The rhetoric is good: Estrada and all the members of the Economic Coordinating Council he created this year say that fighting poverty is the administration's top priority. But implementation is something else. We are a country in love with elocution lessons, says former presidential spokesman Jerry Barican. If you could only build the country with words, we would be No. 1 in Asia. Estrada's genuine concern for the poor is hampered by a lack of comprehensive policymaking and the interference of local officials keen to cash in on the anti-poverty bandwagon. On a recent presidential inspection trip to Mindoro Oriental province, the governor, Rodolfo G. Valencia, has the helicopter fly low to show off two Erap bridges and an Erap highway put up in advance of the visit. But even as the chopper banks sharply around the new concrete structures, the governor hands the President an inflated budget request for the following year. It's almost double what he will get, says Agriculture Secretary Ed Angara, also on the helicopter. We know how much each province really deserves.

Such is the daily routine in the presidential palace for the Chief Executive of the Philippines, besieged by requests from cronies, sycophants, friends, foreign embassies, competing branches of government--and the 5,000 members of the Association of Erap's Godchildren, whose ranks have been swelling from the days when he first rose to prominence as a movie star in the 1960s. Some people call Malacanang a snake pit, says Barican. That is an insult to the snake.

Born in 1937 as the eighth of 10 children in a relatively well-off family, Estrada grew up in the Manila suburb of San Juan. The black sheep of the family, he played with the poorer kids of the neighborhood, drifted out of college and finally became a movie actor. His macho style and self-deprecating humor led him to star in 80 films and earned him five Famas, the local equivalent of Oscars. In 1969 he was elected mayor of San Juan, where he became hugely popular for paving roads and cleaning up crime. He rode to the presidency in 1998 on an image of being the poor man's savior.

Immediately after the election, Estrada enjoyed high popularity ratings. He burnished his reputation internationally by speaking out strongly against the arrest of Anwar Ibrahim by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and by meeting with Anwar's wife on a visit to Kuala Lumpur--something no other asean leader dared to do. He also bucked asean's don't see, don't tell policy on Burma by denouncing that country's military junta. But in the middle of last year, mounting allegations of cronyism and a badly managed attempt to change the constitution to attract more foreign investment led to a sharp drop in his ratings. For a movie actor used to the adoration of his fans, it was a huge blow and prompted a panicky overhaul of his administration in January.

In person, Estrada likes to play the lovable rogue, as if he were still on the film sets of four decades ago. A warm host, he seems to enjoy nothing better than to sit around over a meal trading jokes--often bawdy--with a deadpan expression and a Lucky Strike clamped between his teeth. When he reaches a punchline, he flashes his trademark leer, then laughs uproariously. His favorite movie is Gone with the Wind (seen it 10 times--great plot), and he says he molded himself on actors like Steve McQueen, Anthony Quinn and Gregory Peck. But his favorite model of all is actor-turned-politician Ronald Reagan. When he made governor, I thought I could get into politics--and so I became mayor of San Juan, says Estrada. Then when he became President, I thought--I can do that too. Though he doesn't share Reagan's conservative ideological leanings, Estrada mimics his style of governance, eschewing long cabinet sessions, briefing charts and the other details of administration. Estrada's instinct is to project his personality to the masses, and he clearly enjoys speaking to a crowd: I know how to make them laugh--and when to make them cry.

Erap is game--he is fun to be with. He is very showbiz, says Baby Arenas, a Manila socialite and close friend of Fidel Ramos, Estrada's predecessor in Malacanang. At a recent wedding, Arenas found herself seated next to Estrada. During the service he leaned over and whispered to her, I know where you used to go with Ramos in Malacanang. Arenas tried to protest, but Estrada insisted with one of his leering grins: I checked out the room for myself.

Estrada's extramarital affairs are well-known--he makes no attempt to hide them, admitting to 12 children born out of wedlock, on top of the three he has had with his wife, Luisa. During a visit to Cebu in April, Estrada owned up cheerfully to another of his children, born to a movie starlet. At a public rally he pointed to a teenage girl in the crowd and asked, to the cheers of the audience, Doesn't she look like me?

No longer young at 63, Estrada walks heavily, rolling his shoulders like an old boxer. He has arthritic knees, although he likes to say that above the knees, everything works. Since his makeover in January, he says, he has stopped drinking the old reliable--Johnny Walker Blue Label--and now imbibes only red wine, on the grounds that it is better for the health.

But Estrada's bitterest critics in Manila's high society have made up their mind about him, and they are in no mood to give him a second chance. They regard his common touch as simple vulgarity and resent being shut out of the parties in Malacanang that they had grown used to attending under previous administrations. They have conducted an unrelenting campaign, spearheaded by the Philippine Inquirer, to defame the President. A Silent Protest Movement Against Erap has even been set up--its paradoxical strategy being noise barrages of cars honking horns in Manila's Makati business district. To the Establishment, Estrada is simply not one of them. In a society that reveres gold Rolexes and Cartier Tanks, Estrada doesn't even wear a watch--just a white sweatband with his crest on it. He jokes about his clunky English and his preference for the native Tagalog. And no meal at Malacanang is complete without the trademark lechon, roast fat pig that no restaurant in trendy Malate would even dream of putting on the menu.

And then there are the Erap jokes--like the jigsaw puzzle he reputedly finished in six months, and proudly told his friends it says 3-4 years on the box. Thousands of such jokes circulate around Manila, and Estrada himself has his own store--most of them unprintable. Part of his charm is his self-effacing humor--he once told former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan that he didn't mind the jokes at all: They are good for brand recognition.

Despite his warm personality and good intentions, Estrada retains the style of a small-town mayor who tries to get things done by tapping his buddies. The longer reach and policy grasp required of a president still escape him. Since January he has tried to distance himself from what aides call his more unsavory friends. He has begun to make some progress in economic liberalization, pushing the privatization of the electric power industry and initiating some reform in securities regulation. But many of his policies are ad hoc, like the inept negotiations with the Muslim Moros that have restarted the war in the south. Lacking a coherent vision, many of his ideas are likely to end up like unused footage from one of his movies on the cutting-room floor.

To boost his ratings, Estrada has taken to the road with his message of poverty reduction, population control and economic development. After flying down to the island of Mindoro last month, he tells a group of farmers in Calapan that, with 2.3% population growth, the Philippines will always stay poor. Men, control your sex drives, he says, bringing roars of laughter from the crowd. The fact that his own child-making prowess is already well into double digits doesn't seem to faze him.

In San Jose, on the other side of Mindoro, he makes a speech about how the Philippines has fallen behind the rest of Asia economically. In the 1950s we were second only to Japan in terms of economic growth, he says, Now we are 10th. Although he has ordered officials to lift 10 million people out of poverty by the end of his term in 2004, he announces no concrete plan for how to achieve this, in Mindoro or anywhere else.

In the helicopter on the way back to Manila, he ruminates about whether anyone can fix the country. There is too much politics in the Philippines, everyone arguing with everyone else, Estrada says. We need to be more disciplined. Then he falls asleep. The helicopter, flown by Philippine air force men, lands at Malacanang just as the sun is setting. Before getting out, the President and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces gets out his wallet and tips an embarrassed pilot a 1,000-peso bill. The man is incorrigible.

With reporting by Jaime A. FlorCruz/Cebu and Nelly Sindayen/Manila

June 12, 2000, Erap's Turn To Speak, by Joseph Estrada,

Time's May 29 article on Joseph Estrada [Acting Leader] set off a firestorm in the Philippines. For the past two weeks, the nation's leading columnists have been vigorously debating the article's strengths and weaknesses. Given the passions that the piece unleashed, we invited President Estrada to provide a personal view:Your article makes a big thing of my having slipped a thousand pesos (about $24) into the pocket of my helicopter pilot after an out-of-town sortie, as if that act were proof of presidential indiscretion--or worse, a damaged Filipino culture. I have done the same thing for countless others, all in the spirit of gratitude for service well rendered or genuine compassion for the less fortunate in life. I shall not apologize for this supposed flaw.Your story has cast aspersions on my person--and my competence to lead our nation--on the apparent premise that I have no right to be President because of my previous stints as a film actor and small town mayor. I am no great philosopher or policy wonk. I do not hide the fact that I am a college dropout. My family life is an open book. I have been transparent to my people, and my election to various public posts over the past three decades is an indication that they have accepted me--and continue to accept me--for what I am.In more than 30 years in public service, I have been swept to the post of mayor, senator, Vice President and now President on the crest of popular support from the masa, the Filipino masses. Alleviating, if not eventually eradicating, poverty in my struggling country is the least I can do to repay the people's trust. It is primarily for this reason that I take exception to Time's claim in the article that my government has neither a coherent vision for development nor a master plan for poverty eradication. I have created, and now chair, the multisectoral National Anti-Poverty Commission (napc), which implements our strategy to free 2 million Filipinos from poverty each year, or 10 million people by the time I step aside in 2004. To do this, napc has identified the 100 poorest of the poor families in every city and municipality of the country, each of whom will get a package of benefits including livelihood services, low-cost homes and social services like food subsidies, basic education and training and primary health care.Our poverty eradication agenda dovetails with my government's Medium Term Philippine Development Plan, which we have dubbed Angat Pinoy 2004. Far from having no coherent vision as Time's article claims, my administration aims to attain rapid growth with social equity by way of pushing six of the plan's priority concerns--basic social services like housing and health care; rural infrastructure; public infrastructure like power and telecommunications; reforms in governance; macroeconomic stability; global competitiveness of the domestic market.It was grossly inaccurate for Time to say that the current hostilities and hostage situation in Mindanao were marked by inept negotiations by my government. In the first place, the fragile peace in the southern Philippines was broken by violations of the cease-fire and criminal acts by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (milf). Government troops and I were merely responding to these illegal and violent acts in keeping with our constitutional duty to uphold law and order and defend our country's territorial integrity. I was not elected President in 1998 to oversee the dismemberment of our Republic. Sure, we want peace. But this has to be peace founded on sincerity and mutual trust. The door will always remain open to Muslim separatists and all other rebel groups, for that matter, who sincerely want to talk peace, to ultimately lay down their arms and return to mainstream society.As for the hostage standoff, your magazine would do well to bear in mind that the Philippines is as much a victim here as the other countries whose nationals were seized on Easter Sunday by Abu Sayyaf rebels from a Malaysian diving resort and brought to Sulu in the Philippines. The governments of the foreign hostages have separately given their full backing to the way my administration has been handling this problem. Various Muslim organizations here and abroad have also condemned the Abu Sayyaf for committing un-Islamic acts in abducting the civilians and, worse, torturing and beheading some of their Filipino captives.If we are not proceeding as fast in the negotiations as certain quarters want us to, it is only because of our policy to put a premium on the safety of the hostages. We are constantly in touch with the governments of the foreign captives, updating them on developments and assuring them that the safety of their nationals remains our paramount concern. In the meantime we have been working on the establishment of a humanitarian corridor to channel food, clothing and medicine to the hostages on a regular basis.But we are happy to inform your readers that we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Three developments bear us out: the resumption on May 30 in Cotabato City of peace talks between the government and the milf; the recent opening of formal discussions in Sulu between our negotiators and the Abu Sayyaf leadership on the release of the 21 mostly foreign hostages; the arrest last monthof, and subsequent filing of criminal charges against, milf elements believed to have been behind the Metro Manila bombings. Such positive news has reinvigorated our economy, leading last week to a stock market rebound and a relatively more stable peso against the dollar.Which brings us to the real state of Mindanao and the rest of the Philippines. Contrary to what Time portrayed in its special report, our country's economic rebound is on track. Moreover, international institutions and local business groups remain bullish on our growth prospects despite the Mindanao situation. In the first place, the hostilities are confined to a few barrios in a handful of areas that comprise not even 1% of the total land area of Mindanao. Hence, there is no war in the Philippines. The only war we have now is the total war that I launched against poverty at the start of my presidency. Moreover, the military has scored decisive victories against the rebels. Our troops have cleared the strategic Narciso Ramos Highway of rebels and overtaken various milf strongholds.The Mindanao problem is a temporary setback that we hope to overcome soon. Even international institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, along with big business groups like Intel Corp., remain upbeat on the country's growth targets. The World Bank has even adjusted its growth forecast for the Philippines this year from its original estimate of 3.5%up to 4%. Your magazine could have presented a better economic picture of our country in the article if your reporters had only taken time out to get the views of the executives of America Online, which is set to become Time's new parent company and which has set up shop in our country.Let me categorically state that cronyism is dead on my watch. Your article played up the supposed return of cronyism under my presidency. But do you think foreign investors would take a second look at my country, let alone invest good money in it, if they believed that the playing field is rigged in favor of my supposed friends or political allies in the business community? Continuing investor confidence in our economy is the strongest evidence to the contrary.International institutions and big business players share our optimism over our growth prospects, apparently because of the strong macroeconomic fundamentals that have been set in place. Our economy rebounded last year on the back of the come-from-behind performance of our agriculture sector. Thanks to ample food supply, inflation has fallen to a 12-year low, despite the year-long series of fuel-price adjustments brought about by the global oil shock. Interest rates are less than 10%, down from double-digit levels in the previous administration. Unemployment has also declined; the government created more than 1 million jobs last year during the tail end of the Asian financial storm. Our gross international reserves have hit an all-time high of $16 billion, from less than $10 billion when I took over two years ago. Philippine exports also surged to a record $35 billion in 1999, boosting our projections to hit $50 billion by the end of my term. These rosy indicators point, we believe, to an economy on a dramatic rebound--certainly not what one would expect under a national leadership supposedly in disarray.Ours is a vibrant democracy patterned after that of the United States. It is a democracy conducive to a freewheeling press, an environment that has allowed a prestigious newsweekly like Time magazine to demonstrate its great tradition of fair and balanced reportage. But it is the same U.S.-style democracy that has imbued in us Filipinos faith in the equality of all citizens. It is these same ideals that have prompted me to aspire for--and reach--the highest post in the land regardless of my shortcomings. This I owe to my people and this I hope to repay by making the government truly work for them.

September 11, 2000, Time Magazine, World Watch, Zamboanga,

Muslim rebels freed six Western hostages but then kidnapped an American in the southern Philippines. U.S. officials refused to consider a demand by Abu Sayyaf rebels for $10 million for the release of Jeffrey Schilling, reported to be in ill-health. Six European and South African hostages held since April were released after Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi reportedly paid a ransom of $1 million per captive. A spokesman for the rebels, who also demanded the release of three Islamic militants held in U.S. jails, earlier threatened to execute the 24-year-old American. But he said the latest hostage would not be hurt while negotiations continued.

September 11, 2000, Time Magazine, Bungles in the Jungle, by Nisid Hajari,

Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines seize an American hostage, raising the stakes in a macabre kidnapping game

What Jeffrey Craig Schilling walked into last week was not just a trap, but a farce. The 24-year-old American had lived in the rough-and-tumble southern Philippines since March. He had married a local woman whose cousin was a fighter with a bloodthirsty band of Muslim guerrillas known as Abu Sayyaf, or Bearer of the Sword. He worried about the rebels' penchant for kidnapping foreigners, and he knew that one faction still held several Western hostages seized from the nearby Malaysian island of Sipadan back in April.

Even so, on Aug. 28 Schilling and his wife Ivi Osani went to a mall in Zamboanga City to meet those very same guerrillas. Osani says her husband was curious to see their hideout on the tiny island of Jolo. The rebels brought him there, but then detained him while sending Osani back to Zamboanga. Two days later her cousin, who goes by the name Abu Sabaya, called a local radio station and threatened to cut off Schilling's head if three Muslim militants held in U.S. jails, including World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, were not released. The threat couldn't easily be dismissed: in March, Abu Sabaya's faction kidnapped 53 people, including 22 children, on the island of Basilan; they beheaded two of the adults when that same demand went unheeded.

Schilling, in fact, is only the newest player in a macabre comedy of errors. In the four months since the 21 hostages were taken from Sipadan—a period marked by snail's-pace talks between government negotiators and the rebels—the cast of captives has fluctuated wildly. German and French journalists sent to cover the drama have been held. Two are still in captivity, as are a dozen Filipino evangelists who paid the kidnappers $3,000 plus 50 sacks of rice to be allowed into their camp to pray. Nine Malaysians taken from Sipadan were let go after the guerrillas received $3 million from the Malaysian government. All but six of the Westerners have been set free as well, after a much larger ransom (reportedly $1 million a head) was put up by Libya, whose blustery leader Muammar Gaddafi has pushed the settlement as part of efforts to end his country's isolation. Meanwhile, at least four local women have been kidnapped to serve as "wives" for the newly flush guerrillas. "This has become a revolving door," says Philippine Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado.

Schilling may be the most prized catch. "One American is worth 10 Europeans," Abu Sabaya boasted in a radio interview, though he later denied that the rebels were asking for $10 million for Schilling's return. Washington, meanwhile, has ruled out any concessions, while Philippine officials, who have been at pains not to provoke the guerrillas, are clearly losing patience. "This will be a never-ending story where they release some hostages, keep some and add to their stock," warns presidential secretary Ronaldo Zamora. "Things have to stop somewhere." The embarrassment caused by the ongoing crisis—foreign firms have stepped up security in the region, and travelers have once again been warned to stay away—has renewed calls for the government to end the standoff with force.

The thousands of troops already deployed on Jolo would be only too glad to oblige. For months the Philippine soldiers have been held in abeyance, as European governments insisted that Manila use only peaceful means to secure the release of their citizens. That has meant following a longstanding tradition in the southern Philippines: paying up. Only after Libya pledged $25 million in "development aid" to the rebels did they begin to release the bulk of the Western hostages. The six set free last week were originally to have been released a week earlier, but the plan fell through when Libyan negotiators offered to pay at a rate of 42 pesos to the dollar (the rate when the hostages were seized). After they brought their offer up to the current 45 pesos to the dollar, the deal went through.

The spectacle of Gaddafi shelling out cash for Western tourists is no stranger than many of the other twists in the saga. French and German officials seem content to allow the Libyan leader to enjoy a publicity coup, though they insist they promised nothing for his help. If the Libyans "want to give money to development projects in Jolo out of some strategic concern regarding Libya's image, that's their problem," says French Foreign Minister Hubert VEdrine. The six Westerners released last week were flown out of Jolo (and served soft drinks instead of champagne, out of deference to their Muslim liberators) and flown across the world to Tripoli, where they posed for pictures in front of the Gaddafi residence destroyed by U.S. bombs in 1986.

The Libyan leader may not be expecting any more tangible gains than a polishing of his country's image in international circles. But back in Jolo, his generosity has already had an impact. Dealers in gold, gems and pearls have flocked to the island, where so much U.S. currency from Libya's initial ransom payments (the later ones were in pesos) is in circulation that moneychangers now give only 20 pesos to the dollar. The price of weapons, in a region that's home to an estimated half-million loose firearms, has skyrocketed. Armalites that once sold for less than $900 are now fetching three or four times that much. The ranks of Abu Sayyaf, once thought to number around 200 members, have swelled to more than 1,000.

The rebels have thus won a victory—the means to continue their terror campaign. Abu Sayyaf is "a ticking political time bomb," says opposition leader Heherson Alvarez, "which will continue to threaten the country's stability." Even if Abu Sayyaf frees the remaining Sipadan hostages and two members of a French TV crew as promised, it will still hold more than a dozen Filipinos as a shield against an attack by government troops. The group holding Schilling may be bluffing when it vows to kidnap another American. But it, too, is unlikely to release its captive without some insurance against attack. For now, Jolo's motley crew of kidnappers seem likely to have the last laugh.

September 18, 2000, Time Magazine, An American Caught in a Philippines Nightmare, by Tony Karon,

As the Filipino government pounds a camp where rebels are holding hostages, no word on the fate of Jeffrey Schilling, a man trapped in a bizarre triangle, 517 words

Talk about a holiday in hell. As thousands of troops, planes and helicopters press their assault for a third day on Islamic fundamentalist rebels on the troubled Philippines island of Jolo, 24-year-old American Jeffrey Schilling may be wondering — if he's still alive — how he found his way into this nightmare. Held captive by an army led by one of his wife's relatives, who has threatened to cut off Schilling's head unless the U.S. government releases one of the most dangerous terrorists in its prison system, he now also has to contend with the fact that his captors are under fire from an army that has thus far proved singularly inept in its efforts, egged on by a beleaguered president who made his name playing the hero in countless Filipino action movies and is now desperate to redeem his tough-guy image.

The government of President Joseph Estrada admitted Monday that a number of civilians had died in its assault, which began Saturday but showed no sign of easing up despite international criticism for risking the fate of some 19 hostages, including Schilling and two French photographers. Having been paralyzed by months of hostage negotiations with the Abu Sayyaf organization, the Manila government's decision to take harsh action is hardly surprising. After all, the $15 million in ransom money paid by Libya to secure the release of a group of European, Lebanese and South African tourists had only emboldened Abu Sayyaf to seize more hostages and had allowed them to buy more sophisticated weaponry. The infusion of cash has also exacerbated factional tensions among the guerrillas, making it even less likely that any deal reached would be honored. But the government offensive that began Saturday has been anything but a surgical strike, severely diminishing prospects for the hostages' survival.

Although details remain unclear, Schilling may have initially gone willingly to an Abu Sayyaf camp before being abducted. The Berkeley graduate, who recently converted to Islam, had decided earlier this year to take his first trip abroad. He had befriended Filipino Muslims living in the Bay Area, and had headed for Zamboanga. There he met and quickly married a local lass, who happened to be related to Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Sabaya, who allegedly invited the couple to visit one of his organization's camps. But family ties didn't do much for Schilling — soon after his arrival, the group accused him of working for the CIA and warned that he would be beheaded unless the U.S. releases World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef. The connection isn't entirely arbitrary: Abu Sayyaf was founded by Filipino Muslims returning from Afghanistan, where they took part in the U.S.-backed jihad against the Russian-backed government. Yousef had not only been their comrade-in-arms in Afghanistan, he'd also allegedly spent a few years in the Philippines planning acts of murder and mayhem with his Filipino buddies. Not surprisingly, as spokesman Abu Sabaya boasted to a radio interviewer after Schilling's capture, the Abu Sayyaf had been dying to get their hands on an American. Schilling couldn't have picked a worse place at a worse time to broaden his horizons.

September 25, 2000, Time Magazine, World Watch, Jakarta & Jolo,

Indonesia's President ordered the arrest of former President Suharto's son Tommy in connection with an explosion at the Jakarta Stock Exchange building that left 15 people dead and dozens injured. The blast came a day before Suharto was scheduled to appear in court on corruption charges. Violent protests followed his failure to attend the reopening of the trial, now set to resume on Sept. 28. Police confirmed that plastic explosives had been planted in the parking garage of Jakarta's high-rise Stock Exchange building, located in the heart of the capital's business district. Authorities said nine people were being questioned about the blast, the third to hit the capital in two months.

Government troops launched ground, sea and air attacks against Abu Sayyaf rebel bases on this southern Philippine island, causing heavy casualties. Since April the Muslim rebels have been on a kidnapping spree that has resulted in scores of people being taken captive and often held for months. The Abu Sayyaf group has reportedly netted millions of dollars in ransom paid by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. But just as one group of hostages was released, another would be snatched. The latest raid, in which three Malaysians were taken from an island off Borneo, may have been the last straw. President Joseph Estrada said in a televised national address, "Enough is enough."

October 1, 2000, Time Magazine, World Watch, Jolo,

Philippine troops freed 12 Christian evangelists held by Abu Sayyaf guerrillas on the southern island of Jolo after one of the evangelists escaped and later pointed out the rebels' camp from a military helicopter. After a brief clash, the large Abu Sayyaf group that had been holding the captives fled deeper into the jungle. With no more hostages held by the large faction, the Philippine government now has a freer hand in continuing the military offensive it began on Sept. 16. Five other hostages — another Filipino, an American and three Malaysians — are still believed to be held by two smaller Abu Sayyaf factions. The military has acknowledged underestimating the strength of the Muslim rebels, whose numbers are said to have increased considerably since Libya and Malaysia began paying millions of dollars in ransom for the scores of hostages taken since April.

October 16, 2000, Time magazine, World Watch, Jolo,

Philippine troops freed 12 Christian evangelists held by Abu Sayyaf guerrillas on the southern island of Jolo after one of the evangelists escaped and later pointed out the rebels' camp from a military helicopter. After a brief clash, the large Abu Sayyaf group that had been holding the captives fled deeper into the jungle. With no more hostages held by the large faction, the Philippine government now has a freer hand in continuing the military offensive it began on Sept. 16. Five other hostages — another Filipino, an American and three Malaysians — are still believed to be held by two smaller Abu Sayyaf factions. The military has acknowledged underestimating the strength of the Muslim rebels, whose numbers are said to have increased considerably since Libya and Malaysia began paying millions of dollars in ransom for the scores of hostages taken since April.

November 6, 2000, Time Magazine,World Watch, Manila,

Even as Philippines President Joseph Estrada offered to submit himself to a referendum, his opponents were growing more numerous and more unimpressed. The country's economy has suffered badly since allegations were made that Estrada had received $11.4 million from illegal gambling payoffs and tobacco taxes. Following the defection of Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to the opposition, many of his close senior economic advisers have resigned, as have two Cabinet members. Three senators, including Senate President Franklin Drilon, and 41 congressmen led by House Speaker Manuel Villar quit the ruling party as calls for Estrada's impeachment grew.

January 1, 2001, Time Magazine,World Watch

February 11, 2001, Time MagazineGuns and Money by Mageswary Ramakrishnan,
On the Thai-Malaysian border, Mageswary Ramakrishnan goes inside an arms-smuggling network that supplies a vast underworld of pimps, pirates — and terrorists1384 words

April 23, 2001,World Watch, by Maryann Bird,
THE BALKANS Powell Pushes for Peace As U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell paid his maiden visit to the Balkans, a Russian peacekeeper in Kosovo was shot and killed while on patrol in the troubled province. The soldier was the first kfor member to die in a direct military attack. General Thorstein Skiaker, the Norwegian ...1132 words

By Alex Perry Jun 11, 2001
Laying his nets under the night sky, Brando Cervantes often gazed across the waters at the golden lights of the exclusive Dos Palmas resort. What would it be like to spend time there, a fisherman among the rich and the foreign, playing tennis, taking a jacuzzi, sipping cocktails? At 4 a.m. on May 27, Cervantes ...1668 words

World Watch
By Sue Cullinan Jun 11, 2001
UNITED STATES A Federal jury in Manhattan found four men guilty of all 304 criminal counts related to the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa that killed 224 people. The jury decided all four participated in a broad conspiracy by followers of Islamic militant Osama bin Laden, now resident in Afghanistan, to murder ...1057 words

Perpetually Perilous
By Tim McGirk Jun 18, 2001
Filipinos like to tell the story that U.S. General John "Blackjack" Pershing invented the Colt .45 revolver during his 1945 campaign against the Moros in Mindanao because it took at least six slugs to stop one of these fierce tribesmen before he hacked your head off. Today, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is having an ...1263 words

Power and Gloria
By Tim McGirk Jun 25, 2001
It sounded like an unexpected act of charity by Abu Sayyaf rebels, who are holding three Americans and more than 20 Filipinos hostage in the jungles of the southern Philippines. Calling a Mindanao radio station by satellite phone last Tuesday, harsh-voiced rebel spokesman Abu Sabaya said: "As our gift in the celebration of Independence Day, ...1502 words

A Regrettable Detour
By Brian Bennett Jun 25, 2001
The last time Fanny Sobero saw her husband Guillermo, it was late afternoon on May 23 at their suburban home in the chaparral-covered hills of Corona, California. Kids were shooting hoops in the fading light, and Sobero, in khaki shorts and a T shirt, was out in the driveway, slinging a yellow backpack into his ...356 words

World Watch
By Sue Cullinan Jul 02, 2001
NORTHERN IRELAND Violence Returns to Belfast Sectarian unrest is a regular summertime feature of life in Ulster, but the strife reached a disturbing new level last week when Protestant protesters blocked a group of Catholic children from going to their school in a divided area of north Belfast. The trouble quickly escalated into successive nights ...1083 words

The News Might Be Bad, but What a Deal
By Alex Perry Jul 16, 2001
One of the buys of the decade is on offer at Kathmandu's Dwarika's Hotel. For $200 two people get three nights in an award-winning boutique room (which normally costs $185 a day), three breakfasts, a half-day city tour and a farewell traditional six-course banquet. So tranquil are the 74 rooms, set around a brick courtyard ...774 words

Starting Time
Jul 16, 2001
Person of the Week I'LL SHOW YOU MINE IF ... Nuclear rivals Pakistan and India will try to get closer when President Pervez Musharraf calls on Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in Agra this weekend. The big question is whether Kashmir, their long-standing bone of contention, will get bravely discussed Noted "That's your problem." SLOBODAN ...1092 words

World Watch
By Kate Noble Aug 20, 2001
ISRAEL A Massive Blow to Peace Tensions rose inexorably in the Middle East after Israeli helicopters launched a missile attack on the West Bank offices of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, killing eight. Two of the dead Jamal Mansour, the top Hamas official in the West Bank, and his deputy Jamal Salim were decapitated by ...1137 words

Many Voices
By Phil Zabriskie Oct 08, 2001
The planes hit, the towers burned and in an instant they were gone, reduced to a steel and concrete graveyard. From the wreckage, a cloud of smoke and ash rose ever higher and farther until it erased a vista once anchored by the fallen Twin Towers. Three weeks later, the physical cloud has dissipated, but ...1711 words

Frozen Assets
By Michele Orecklin Oct 08, 2001
The individuals and groups whose accounts are being targeted for alleged terrorist links operate globally and boast a variety of stated missions. Among them: 1. Abu Sayyaf is a Muslim guerrilla group based in the Philippines, where it wants a separate Islamic homeland. The group's 300 members now hold 18 hostages, including an American couple. ...261 words | view cover

How Bin Laden Set Up Shop in Southeast Asia
By Tony Karon Oct 10, 2001
The Afghan jihad drew together Islamists from all over the world — and then Al Qaida shrewdly worked to turn those links into a global franchise874 words

Hate Club: Al-Qaeda's Web of Terror
By Michael Elliott Nov 04, 2001
TIME's Michael Elliott takes an in-depth look at al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden's sprawling terror network around the globe4189 words

Hate Club
By James Graff Nov 05, 2001
Lased Ben Heni craved a glorious death. On a visit to the seedy apartment of a Tunisian friend, Essid Sami Ben Khemais, in a Milan suburb last March, the intense 32-year-old Libyan chafed at the strictures imposed on martyrdom by al-Qaeda. Any dramatic action against "the enemies of God," he complained, required authorization of "Sheik ...3544 words al-Qaeda -- Who's Who in the Enemy Alliance

A TIME guide to Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants77 words

Hate club
By Michael Elliott Nov 11, 2001
"You know that al-Qaeda exists from Algeria to the Philippines ... it's everywhere." —from a conversation secretly taped by the Italian police on March 22; the speaker was Essid Sami ben Khemais, a Tunisian arrested the next month for alleged terrorist offenses It was the worst crime in American history, and it has triggered the ...4117 words

Hate Club
By Michael Elliott Nov 12, 2001
An in-depth look at al-Qaeda, the sprawling terror network through which Osama bin Laden exploits the borderless globe with a secret army driven by a ruthless new brand of extremism4132 words | view cover

Worldwide Web
By Research Nov 12, 2001
Osama bin Laden's network of influence reaches across five continents, creating a complex tangle of men, money and murder816 words | view cover

Hate Club: Al-Qaeda's Web of Terror TIME's Michael Elliott takes an in-depth look at al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden's sprawling terror network around the globe
By Michael Elliott Nov 12, 2001
y MICHAEL ELLIOTT It was the worst crime in American history, and it has triggered the greatest dragnet ever known. The investigation into the atrocities of Sept. 11 has involved police forces across the U.S. and around the world. From Michigan to Malaysia, from San Diego to Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, law-enforcement agencies have been ...3857 words

Can Al-Qaeda Find a New Nest?
By Johanna McGeary Dec 16, 2001
To do their worst, terrorists need a sanctuary. The next order of battle is to deny them one1983 words

Terrorism: Can Al-Qaeda Find A New Nest?
By Johanna McGeary Dec 24, 2001
To do their worst, terrorists need a sanctuary. The next order of battle is to deny them one1969 words | view cover

Why the U.S. is Entering the Philippine Minefield
By Tony Karon Jan 16, 2002
The Muslim southern islands of the Philippines may be crawling with rival armed factions, but the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf remain isolated951 words

What's Become Of Al-Qaeda?
By Romesh Ratnesar Jan 21, 2002
The U.S. has killed or seized hundreds of bin Laden's fighters, but many are still on the loose. A progress report on the war on terror2531 words | view cover

'To Sacrifice and To Suffer'
By Phil Zabriskie Jan 28, 2002
Everyone says Sept. 11 changed the world. How did it change your life? That very night I sent word to President Bush that the Philippines stands behind him and is ready to do what needs to be done. It was very natural for us to be so early in our support. For one, the U.S. ...1489 words

Power and Gloria
By Phil Zabriskie Jan 28, 2002
For a few moments, she appears to be sleeping, ignoring the helicopter's incessant buzz and shutting her eyes to the beauty of the Cordillera Mountains below. She has taken off her reading glasses and put away the newspapers. Coup rumors, strife in the southern island of Mindanao, the landing of hundreds of American soldiers that ...2634 words

Next Stop Mindanao
By Johanna McGeary Jan 28, 2002
In the second phase of the war on terrorism, U.S. soldiers join the hunt for Muslim rebels in the Philippines. But is this the most pressing threat?1672 words | view cover

'We're Here to Help the Philippines'
By Phil Zabriskie Feb 08, 2002
U.S. commander tells TIME that America will play a support role in the war on Abu Sayyaf1197 words

Eye of the Storm
By Simon Elegant Feb 11, 2002
Disturbing revelations throw a spotlight on Malaysia as the region's key meeting place for al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists and an exporter of jihad2596 words

World Watch
By Maryann Bird Feb 11, 2002
The week's news in review1099 words

Turning Around a Messy Little War
By Phil Zabriskie Feb 11, 2002
On the so-called second front, America's ally leaves something to be desired891 words

Letters: Feb. 18, 2002
Feb 18, 2002
You're on Your Own Daniel Kadlec's "You're on your own" chillingly summed up the predicament of 21st century Americans: we have a surfeit of choices but no guidance. Not being proficient in financial matters, I have consulted advisers who know even less than I do as well as those who tout their one-size-fits-all plans in ...2729 words | view cover

Picking a Fight
By Phil Zabriskie Feb 25, 2002
The second front in the war on terror officially began last week when 660 U.S. soldiers got marching orders to accompany their Philippine counterparts into the jungles of miniscule Basilan Island on the fringe end of the Philippines. Their mission: to help take out the dreaded kidnap-extortionists known as Abu Sayyaf. What is not written ...676 words

Rumbles in the Jungle
By Anthony Spaeth Mar 04, 2002
The U.S. war on terror, Bush famously vowed, will take many years and span the globe. Already it has put American troops in harm's way in Afghanistan—and now the southern Philippines, where last week an American MH-47 Chinook helicopter went down in the shark-infested waters between southern Negros and northern Mindanao after ferrying soldiers and ...1265 words

Starting Time
Mar 04, 2002
Person of the Week IN THE LINE OF DUTY The media world was saddened and outraged by the news that kidnapped Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl was killed by his radical captors in Pakistan. U.S. President George W. Bush said Pearl's death will only strengthen Washington's resolve against terror Noted "We thought we were ...1389 words

The New Fronts
By Mitch Frank Mar 18, 2002
Most world leaders probably would not want their country to be compared with Afghanistan. But some are learning that if they pledge to move against terrorists operating in their territory, the U.S. will give them money, weapons and military training. No wonder Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo called the island where Abu Sayyaf terrorists roam ...943 words | view cover

A Rumor of Peace
By Alex Perry Apr 22, 2002
Sri Lanka's rebel leader talks of ending conflict for the cameras—while continuing to stock arms behind the scenes1091 words

World Watch
May 13, 2002
The Week's News in Review1098 words

World Watch
By Maryann Bird Jun 10, 2002
The week's news in review1163 words

The New Face Behind 9/11
By Michael Elliott Jun 17, 2002
AL-QAEDA UPDATE551 words | view cover

Starting Time
Jun 17, 2002
For the Week of June, 17, 2002718 words

Shoot-Out in the Jungle
By Phil Zabriskie Jun 17, 2002
Philippine troops launch a rescue raid that ends with two dead hostages, including an American missionary725 words

World Watch
By Robin Banerji Jun 17, 2002
The week's news in review1157 words

Shoot-Out in the Jungle
By Phil Zabriskie Jun 17, 2002
Philippine troops launch a rescue raid that ends with two dead hostages, including an American missionary725 words | view cover

Milestones Jul. 1, 2002
By Melissa August Jul 01, 2002
ARRESTED. BRET MICHAEL EDMUNDS, 26, drifter wanted for questioning in the abduction of Elizabeth Smart, 14, from her Salt Lake City, Utah, home; in Martinsburg, W. Va. Edmunds checked in to a hospital there under a phony name after an apparent drug overdose. Officials insist he is not a suspect in the Smart case. DIED. ...393 words | view cover

Letters: Jul. 8, 2002
Jul 08, 2002
A New Proposal to Protect the U.S. "President Bush's plan for a Homeland Security agency is like sweeping the floor while a pot boils over on the stove." G. RICHARD THOMAS Ajijic, Mexico President Bush knows better than anyone else that our country faces disaster at the hands of terrorists if aggressive measures are not ...906 words | view cover

World Watch
Jul 08, 2002
The week's news in review1204 words

The Never-Ending Battle
By Phil Zabriskie Aug 12, 2002
Troops on the ground and cash for allies—the U.S. war on terror is reminding Asia of the cold war766 words

World Watch
By Robin Banerji Sep 02, 2002
The week's news in review1017 words

Iraq: Terror Behind the Lines?
By Tony Karon Oct 08, 2002
Marines are attacked in Kuwait and terrorists are suspected in an oil tanker blast off Yemen, raising fears of regional instability ahead of an Iraq invasion911 words

World Watch
By Robin Banerji Oct 14, 2002
The week's news in review1089 words

World Watch
By Robin Banerji Oct 28, 2002
The week's news in review1419 words

The Wrong Guys?
By Brian Bennett Nov 04, 2002
Terrorism has hit the Philippines hard in the last couple of weeks361 words

World Watch
By Robin Banerji Nov 04, 2002
The week's news in review1269 words

Abu Sayyaf
By Nelly Sindayen Nov 25, 2002
Beyond the Kidnap Game572 words

Will They Strike Again?
Dec 02, 2002
TIME investigates the terrorist threat—and countermeasures in place—in Asia's possible target countries. The region still has some work to do, but better security will make a difference2311 words

By Shareeda Morrison Jan 13, 2003
For the Week of January 13, 2003682 words

The Philippines' Iraq Connection
By Simon Elegant Feb 24, 2003
Was an Iraqi diplomat Saddam's link to Abu Sayyaf? Or is Manila just dancing to the U.S.'s tune?473 words

The Week in Peace
By Brian Bennett Mar 03, 2003
While the world waits for bombs to start falling in Iraq, peace is getting a chance in some of Asia's perennial hot spots515 words

First Bali, now Davao
By Anthony Spaeth Mar 17, 2003
The bombing at an airport in the Philippines shows the threat that terrorists still pose in Asia2134 words

Why Asia Needs America
By Blas F. Ople Mar 24, 2003
Only the U.S. can carry the burden of providing peace, stability and prosperity in Asia516 words

Why Asia Fears Bush's War
By Hannah Beech Mar 24, 2003
The repercussions of a U.S. campaign in Iraq will be widespread—and Asians are dreading the coming fight1927 words

Why Asia Fears Bush's War
By Hannah Beech Mar 24, 2003
The repercussions of a U.S. campaign in Iraq will be widespread—and Asians are dreading the coming fight1930 words

Why Asia Fears Bush's War
By Hannah Beech Mar 26, 2003
The repercussions of a U.S. campaign in Iraq will be widespread— and Asians are dreading the coming fight1942 words

What She Saw
By Phil Zabriskie May 19, 2003
Abu Sayyaf hostage Gracia Burnham talks about her ordeal in a new book299 words

Terrorism Released
By Simon Elegant Jul 28, 2003
Criticism falls on Manila's security apparatus as JI bombmaker escapes412 words

Great Escapes
Jul 28, 2003
Manila's "maximum security" Camp Crame prison has an embarrassing track record113 words

Elevated Threat
By Simon Elegant Nov 03, 2003
With the arrest of a suspected high-level terrorist in Mindanao, President Arroyo admits that Jemaah Islamiah has become a real danger in the Philippines1674 words

Targeting Thailand
By Andrew Perrin Jan 19, 2004
Are Islamic militants behind the latest wave of attacks and bombings in the country's restless south?839 words

Life in the Danger Zone
By Phil Zabriskie Feb 09, 2004
Toughened by hardships they've endured back home, the Philippine troops are not fazed by Iraq1360 words

Apr 12, 2004
Events of the Week855 words

The Return of Abu Sayyaf
By Simon Elegant Aug 23, 2004
A Philippine group that was once known for brutal kidnapping has graduated to genuine terror1371 words

Mindanao's Biggest Boss
By Simon Elegant Aug 23, 2004
Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim of the M.I.L.F.589 words

The Terror Threat Continues
By Rohan Gunaratna Dec 12, 2004
Despite some success, President Bush must continue to confront extremists683 words

Southern Exposure
By Anthony Spaeth Feb 14, 2005
Jolo is the birthplace of one the Philippines' oldest insurgencies. Now violence is flaring again610 words

"They Are Very Scary"
By Simon Elegant Feb 20, 2005
Abu Sayyaf claims credit for the latest round of deadly bombings392 words

By Penny Campbell Mar 20, 2005
Terror, Visible Last week Southeast Asia's usually hidden war on terror burst into the open. In the Philippines 22 alleged Muslim militants, including three top leaders of the Abu Sayyaf group, were killed during the bloody suppression of a prison riot. But offstage developments are just as frightening. TIME has learned that Philippine security forces ...655 words

Terror, Visible
By Simon Elegant Mar 21, 2005
From the Philippines to Malaysia, disturbing new signs of terrorist activity are appearing330 words

Under the Gun
By Anthony Spaeth May 02, 2005
The Philippine military is fighting low morale, poor equipment and stubborn militants. That's a problem not just for the nation but for the entire region3851 words

Time to Get Tough
By Rohan Gunaratna Oct 10, 2005
Asia's war on terror must be waged on multiple fronts468 words

Needing To Get Tougher on Terror
By Bryan Walsh Apr 03, 2006
Recent bombings in the Philippines lend urgency to calls for a new anti-terror law295 words

The War with No End
By Andrew Marshall Jan 25, 2007
The communist New People's Army is responsible for the Philippines' longest-running insurgency. A rare look into what drives one jungle platoon to fight2868 words

November 14, 2007, Time Magazine, Manila Bomb: Terror or Vendetta?, by Adrian Addison,
The blast at the Philippines' legislature appears to have targeted a lawmaker at odds with the Islamic terror group Abu Sayyaf. But with political violence in the Philippines so widespread, its real cause may never be known576 words

Winning A War of Stealth
By Rory Callinan Jun 12, 2008
With the help of the U.S., the Philippine military has the terror group Abu Sayyaf running for cover in the country's south. But while it's hurting, it's far from dead2328 words

Inside the Manhunt
By Rory Callinan Jun 26, 2008
They're being pursued by police, soldiers and intelligence agents from Indonesia to the Philippines. But four key suspects in the Bali bombings are still on the run3065 words

Philippines Bomb Blast Hits South
By Peter Ritter Sep 02, 2008
A deadly bomb blast in the southern Philippines' raises the question of how much the nation's splintered insurgencies might be working together700 words

It almost came to hand-to-hand combat.
By Alexander Pama Aug 13, 2009
Alexander Pama, a military commander on Basilan, an island province in the southern Philippines, where at least 31 suspected terrorists and 23 soldiers were killed as government troops stormed training camps of the Islamist group Abu Sayyaf6 words

A Brief History of Abu Sayyaf
By Christopher Shay Oct 01, 2009
After two U.S. soldiers were killed by a land mine in the southern Philippines, the Islamic separatist group Abu Sayyaf is back in the military's crosshairs875 words

The World
By Harriet Barovick Apr 26, 2010
10 ESSENTIAL STORIES1057 words | view cover

Philippines: Aquino vs. Homegrown Terrorists
By Alastair McIndoe Jun 22, 2010
On June 9, two days after Congress proclaimed Benigno Aquino the winner of a presidential election, three loggers were beheaded by members of the local insurgency Abu Sayyaf, a gruesome reminder of the security challenges that the new administration faces999 words

An Army Birthday Gift–So Long Black Beret!
By Nate Rawlings Jun 14, 2011
It’s without an ounce of wistfulness that I bid adieu to one of the most ridiculous and unpopular pieces of Army-issue equipment–the black beret. For the past decade, when soldiers were not in Iraq or Afghanistan, they suffered through parades, formations and all manner of long walks with sweaty, misshapen plops of wool covering their [...]

Disarming Allies…
By Mark Thompson May 23, 2012
Seems kind of strange that the U.S. government is turning over warships to the Philippine navy, but only after the vessels have been stripped of their weapons despite Manila’s request that they remain (better not tell the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Moro National Liberation Front, Abu Sayyaf, the Rajah Sulaiman Movement, Jemaah Islamiyah or assorted [...]

War Games…For Warriors Only
By Mark Thompson Jun 19, 2012
The military’s growing separation from U.S. society is filtering into bizarre nooks and crannies of American life. Check out this new video game: Medal of Honor Warfighter Military Edition. It’s a joint venture by GovX, Inc. – “the largest online shopping destination exclusively serving verified military, law enforcement and related government personnel and their families” – [...] - Frozen Assets - The Official Terror Roll
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