Sunday, November 4, 2012

Texts: L.A. Times



April 28, 1991, Reuters, Philippine Family Feud Erupts; 7 Die, 31 Hurt,
March 26, 1992, Reuters, 3 Women, Girl Reported Freed in Philippines,

April 13, 2000, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, At Least 56 Reported Killed After Ferry Tips,
May 11, 2000, Associated Press, Rebels Are Said to Mull Plea to Free Ill Hostages,
May 18, 2000, Associated Press, Philippine Rebels Demand $2 Million for Ailing Hostage,
May 24, 2000, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, Hostage-Takers, Mediator Set Talks,
May 28, 2000, Associated Press, Talks to Free Hostages Begin in Philippines,
July 9, 2000, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, Captives Given Cake and Relief Supplies,
July 28, 2000, Associated Press, Philippine Rebels Free Journalist,
July 30, 2000, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, 2 Journalists Held by Rebels Are Freed,
August 17, 2000, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, Rebels Free Hostage, Say Others to Follow,
August 18, 2000, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, Hostage Release Thrown Off Track,
August 19, 2000, Reuters / Los Angeles Times, Rebels Free 3 Malaysians; More Releases Expected,
August 30, 2000, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, U.S. Demands That Rebels Free American,
September 2, 2000, Los Angeles Times, American's Captors Demand $10 Million,
September 3, 2000, Los Angeles Times, Negotiator Named for U.S. Captive,
September 4, 2000, Associated Press, American May Have Argued Way Into Captivity,
September 10, 2000, Los Angeles Times, Ex-Captives Bemoan Plight of Others Held by Rebels, by David Lamb,
September 12, 2000, Associated Press, 4 Freed Hostages Reach Libya; Captors Are Accused of Rape,
September 16, 2000, Associated Press, Philippine Forces Pound Muslim Rebels,
September 17, 2000, Los Angeles Times, 18 Held in Philippine Troop Invasion, by David Lamb,
September 18, 2000, Los Angeles Times, Rebels Flee Into Jungle as Army Sweeps Island,
September 21, 2000, Los Angeles Times, Philippine Muslims Still Waging Age-Old Resistance, David Lamb,
September 22, 2000, Los Angeles Times, Philippine President Vows to Crush Guerrillas, by David Lamb,
September 23, 2000, Los Angeles Times, Philippines, Libya Doubt U.S. Hostage's Credibility, by David Lamb,
September 24, 2000, Los Angeles Times, Malaysia Tightens Its Border With Philippines, by David Lamb,
September 24, 2001, Text of Bush's executive order freezing terrorist assets,
September 25, 2000, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, 100 Rebels Killed in Assault, Army Says,
September 26, 2000, Associated Press, Villagers Flee as Assault on Philippine Rebels Continues,
October 3, 2000, Los Angeles Times, Philippine Troops Rescue Evangelists Held by Rebels,
October 26, 2000, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, 3 Malaysian Hostages Freed After Clash,
November 19, 2000, Associated Press, 46 Rebels Surrender in Philippines,
December 4, 2000, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, 15 Rebels Found in Grave, Officials Say,
December 7, 2000, Los Angeles Times, Rebel Leader Offers to Surrender, by David Lamb,

January 30, 2001, American Hostage Is Ill, Rebels Say,
April 13, 2001, Los Angeles Times, Philippine Troops Free U.S. Hostage in Raid Against Muslim Guerrillas, by Richard C. Paddock,
April 14, 2001, Associated Press, Freed American Denies Rebel Conspiracy,
May 28, 2001, Los Angeles Times / KCBS, SoCal Man Among Hostages In Philippines,
June 15, 2001, Los Angeles Times, Philippine Rebels' Main Cause Is Cash, by Richard C. Paddock,
September 29, 2001, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, Rebels Abandon Hostage as Police Close In,
October 22, 2001, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, Clashes Kill 16 Muslim Rebels, One Soldier,
December 18, 2001, L.A. Times, U.S. Use of Bases in Philippines Renewed, by Richard C. Paddock,
December 31, 2001, Times Wire Reports, 13 Guerrillas Killed in Military Raid,

February 11, 2002, Reuters, Philippine Army Attacks Guerrilla Positions,
April 27, 2002, Los Angels Times Wire Reports, After 3 Months, Gunmen Free Captive Reporter,
August 25, 2002, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, Elite Army Unit Flown In to Help Rescue Hostages,
October 13, 2002, Associated Press / Los Angeles Times, Rebels Kill 11 in Clashes With Philippine Troops,
October 14, 2002, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, Troops Seek Guerrillas After Deadly Ambush,

August 9, 2003, Los Angeles Times, Jail Defects Abetted Terrorist's Escape, by Richard C. Paddock,
December 8, 2003, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, Guerrilla Commander Arrested, Military Says,

March 31, 2004, L.A. Times, 'Madrid-Level' Bomb Attack Prevented, Philippines Says, Richard C. Paddock,

April 14, 2005, Los Angeles Times, Bridging Philippines' Islands of Faith, by Richard C. Paddock,
July 8, 2005, Chicago Tribune / Los Angeles Times, 'If I give in to the worry, the terrorists won', by Christine Spolar,

February 19, 2006, Associated Press / Los Angeles Times, 1 Killed in Blast Near Philippine Army Camp,

January 18, 2007, Los Angeles Times, Philippine militant slain, by Paul Watson and Al Jacinto,
January 19, 2007, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, 10 rebels, 3 troops killed in clash>?????,
February 3, 2007, Los Angeles Times, Philippine rebels claim to hold senior officials hostage, by Al Jacinto,
June 8, 2007, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, U.S. pays reward to informants,
August 10, 2007, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, 52 killed as rebels clash with soldiers,

March 2, 2008, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, Bomb injures soldiers, women,
March 9, 2008, Los Angeles Times, U.S. role in Philippine raid questioned, by Paul Watson,
August 13, 2008, Los Angeles Times, Battles threaten deal for larger Muslim zone in Philippines, by Al Jacinto and Paul Watson,

January 16, 2009, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, The Philippines, Three Red Cross workers abducted
April 3, 2009, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, World Briefing / The Philippines,
April 18, 2009, Associated Press, Abducted aid worker rescued,
July 12, 2009, L.A. Times, Islamic militants in the southern Philippines freed an ailing Italian Red Cross worker
August 9, 2009, Los Angeles Times, Philippine city lives in constant terror, by John M. Glionna,
September 30, 2009, Los Angeles Times, Two American soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb...
October 4, 2009, Los Angeles Times, Military deaths,


_________________________________________________________

April 28, 1991, Reuters, Philippine Family Feud Erupts; 7 Die, 31 Hurt,

A longstanding feud between two families erupted into a gun battle at a town fiesta in the southern Philippines, leaving seven dead and 31 injured, the military said Saturday. In a delayed report, it said the victims were caught in the crossfire Tuesday between the Tulawie and Tan families, who clashed in a public square in the town of Jolo. [Complete]
____________________________________________________________

March 26, 1992, Reuters, 3 Women, Girl Reported Freed in Philippines,

MANILA — Two Americans and two Australians kidnaped for ransom by Muslim gunmen in the southern Philippines eight days ago were freed unharmed Wednesday, a spokesman for a Muslim rebel group said.

The three women and a 6-year-old girl were released on the remote southern island of Jolo, 590 miles south of Manila, according to Sharif Zain Jali, spokesman for the Moro National Liberation Front.

Spokesmen for the Australian and U.S. embassies in Manila said they were checking the report but had not been able to confirm it.

The four were reportedly freed a week after police in Manila rescued kidnaped California businessman Michael L. Barnes after he was held for 61 days by an urban guerrilla group called Red Scorpion.

Jali said by telephone from the southern city of Zamboanga that the four captives are unharmed and no ransom was paid.

Lynette Cook, wife of an Australian missionary, her daughter, Cheree, and American missionary schoolteachers Carol Allen from Kittaning, Pa., and Tracy Rectanus from Richmond, Va., were seized by gunmen March 17 while sightseeing in Jolo.

Cook's 3-year-old daughter was also initially abducted but was released when she started crying and asking for milk. [Complete]













_______________________________________________________________________


September 23, 2000, Philippines, Libya Doubt U.S. Hostage's Credibility, by David Lamb,
MANILA — The Philippine government and the son of Libyan ruler Col. Moammar Kadafi cast doubt Friday on the credibility of an American being held hostage on Jolo island, saying he may be in cahoots with his captors.

Jeffrey Schilling, 24, an Oakland resident who converted to Islam in 1996, has been held since Aug. 28, when he walked into the camp of Abu Sayyaf rebels, reportedly because of his fascination with Islamic revolution. He was accompanied by his new Filipina wife, Ivi Osani, the cousin of a senior commander in the movement.

After his capture, there was speculation in Philippine intelligence circles that Schilling had another agenda, as an arms broker anxious to tap into the millions of dollars in ransom that Abu Sayyaf had collected. Others speculated that he had arranged his own kidnapping after agreeing to share his ransom with the group.

Western intelligence sources later talked to Osani, who was not held, and discounted the reports, dismissing Schilling as a young religious idealist who didn't realize the danger of associating with his wife's cousin, rebel commander Abu Sabaya.

"We believe Schilling is an innocent victim held against his wishes," said one intelligence analyst who, like others in his profession, did not want to be quoted by name or nationality.

But Kadafi's son Seif Islam, who was instrumental in winning the release of 10 Western hostages seized by Abu Sayyaf on April 23, told the French magazine Figaro that Schilling was not the victim of a "family squabble," as Philippine officials had put it.

"We know now that Jeffrey Schilling was selling arms to the rebels," he said, according to the Reuters news agency. ". . . He went to the rebel camp several times. He may have converted to Islam, but he is first and foremost an arms dealer."

Libya has previously supported Abu Sayyaf with arms and money.

The government of President Joseph Estrada has voiced displeasure over two taped messages that Schilling made, broadcast by a radio station in the southern Philippines, that were sympathetic to Abu Sayyaf. Some officials said, however, that the remarks may have been coerced or that Schilling may have been the victim of "Stockholm syndrome," in which hostages develop an affinity for their captors.

"Make sure you tell the Philippine government to stop the [military] operation because right now that's the biggest threat to my life," Schilling told his mother, Carol, in a telephone call broadcast Friday by the radio station. "Look, I can't be released if the government is conducting operations and not negotiating."

In a similar appeal Thursday, Schilling accused the Philippine armed forces of "indiscriminate" bombing in its offensive, begun last Saturday, to free himself and 18 other hostages and destroy Abu Sayyaf's military capabilities. Two of the hostages, both French journalists, escaped this week.

Schilling also said the Philippine government, not Abu Sayyaf, is blocking his release.

"Look at the tone of what he is saying," Estrada's executive secretary, Ronaldo Zamora, told a Manila radio station. "Very clearly, if he is not involved, he has fallen for his kidnappers."

Regardless of Schilling's plea, 5,000 troops on Jolo pressed ahead Friday with their operation. Estrada's press secretary, Ricardo Puno, said the task force had located the jungle hide-out where Schilling and his captors are holed up. Schilling and a Filipino resort worker, Roland Ullah, reportedly are being held together while the other hostages--12 Philippine evangelists and three Malaysians--have been moved elsewhere.

Ullah, the last hostage from a group of 21 seized in April on Malaysia's Sipadan island and taken to Jolo, also is under suspicion. Philippine intelligence officers say the former Jolo resident--who had worked at the Sipadan resort for a year--may have provided Abu Sayyaf with the information needed to carry out the kidnapping.

"They couldn't have pulled off the kidnapping on their own," Estrada said Thursday. "They definitely had help. It was an inside job."
___________________________________________________________

January 30, 2001, American Hostage Is Ill, Rebels Say,
Muslim rebels said that an American hostage they are holding in the southern Philippines was coughing blood and urged the government to immediately negotiate his release. A spokesman for the rebel group Abu Sayyaf gave the government 72 hours from 6 a.m. Monday local time to negotiate the release of Jeffrey Schilling of Oakland and a Philippine resort worker.
______________________________________________________________

September 2, 2000, American's Captors Demand $10 Million,
Muslim rebels who threatened to behead an American man kidnapped in the southern Philippines have demanded $10 million for his release, negotiators said. The State Department, however, has ruled out paying ransom to the Abu Sayyaf rebels for the release of Jeffrey Schilling, 24, of Oakland, who was abducted Sunday. The rebels, who have asked that food and medicine be sent for Schilling, said today that he has begun a hunger strike. Despite their threats to behead Schilling, the rebels pledged not to harm him while negotiations continue. U.S. officials say Schilling has serious health problems.
________________________________________________________________

September 4, 2000, Associated Press, American May Have Argued Way Into Captivity,

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines — Muslim rebels who took an American man hostage in the southern Philippines did so after he angered them in an argument over religious issues at their jungle camp, a newspaper reported Sunday.

"There was a scuffle, and suddenly Schilling had become a hostage," freelance reporter Arlyn de la Cruz quoted a rebel as saying in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Jeffrey Schilling of Oakland went to the camp voluntarily, the paper reported. He was being held by the Abu Sayyaf rebels inside a bamboo hut guarded by 10 to 15 men when De la Cruz visited Friday.

His hands had been tied with electrical wire since Tuesday, when he damaged the door to the hut, the paper said.

The Abu Sayyaf, which seeks an independent Islamic state, is holding six other Westerners and 12 Filipinos on Jolo Island. The group freed six hostages last week for a reported $6 million ransom, paid by Libya. It had freed other hostages earlier.

Schilling is held on Jolo by a different faction of Abu Sayyaf, one responsible for kidnapping about 50 schoolchildren and teachers in March on Basilan island.

U.S. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen plans to discuss Schilling's abduction and cooperation in the fight against terrorism during a two-day visit to Manila starting Sept. 15, Philippine Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado said Sunday.

The rebels reportedly demanded $10 million for Schilling's release last week, although a spokesman later denied that. The U.S. State Department has ruled out paying ransom.

Schilling, 24, converted to Islam several years ago and has been living in southern Zamboanga since March with a Muslim Filipina.

Schilling reportedly angered the rebels in arguments Thursday over such issues as the age at which Muslim boys should be allowed to use weapons.
______________________________________________________________

September 10, 2000, Ex-Captives Bemoan Plight of Others Held by Rebels, by David Lamb,

HANOI — Four Europeans expressed a mixture of relief and sadness Saturday after being freed for ransom following four months of captivity on the southern Philippine island of Jolo. The gang of professional kidnappers that took them hostage still holds 16 people, including an American.

"I feel great, but I am feeling sorry for those left behind," Risto Marco Vahanen, one of two Finns released, said after being taken out of the rebel stronghold by helicopter. With him were Frenchman Stephane Loisy, German Marc Wallert and Finn Seppo Juhani Franti.

The Europeans were among 21 Westerners and Asians kidnapped April 23 from Malaysia's Sipadan island resort and taken by speedboat to Jolo, about an hour away. Some of those victims have been released over the past 10 weeks, but the Islamic gang, known as Abu Sayyaf--which says its goal is an independent homeland, not money--kidnapped others in Jolo to take their places.

The four were to be flown to Libya, which put up the money for their release, before flying home. Libya is reported to have paid $1 million each for the hostages, although the government in Tripoli insists that the money is for developmental aid in the largely Islamic southern Philippines and does not represent ransom.

"We are almost over with the crisis," said Libyan envoy Rajab Azzarouk, who played a key negotiating role in winning the release of the four Europeans and, earlier, that of two French nationals, a South African couple and two Germans. He said he would try to gain the release of two French journalists, Jean-Jacques Le Carrec and Roland Madura, kidnapped in July, "but practically, it's very difficult."

Libya has balked at putting up ransom for the journalists, maintaining that their company should pay, as a German newspaper did to free one of its reporters, Andreas Lorenz, on July 27. All told, Libya may have paid Abu Sayyaf as much as $25 million over the past two months to win the release of various hostages, Manila press reports said.

In addition to the two French journalists, Abu Sayyaf is still holding captive in the jungles of Jolo island 13 Filipinos--12 of them Christian evangelists who had walked into the rebel camp on what they called a prayer mission--and the American, 24-year-old Jeffrey Schilling, a Muslim convert from Oakland. He was seized late August after entering the camp for unexplained reasons with his Philippine wife, Ivi Osani, a cousin of one of the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas.

A faction of the main Abu Sayyaf group appears to have been responsible for the seizure of Schilling, who is being held separately from the others. The rebels have threatened to behead him as a CIA spy and, according to unconfirmed news reports in Manila, have demanded $25 million for his release. The U.S. government denies that he has any relationship with the CIA and has reiterated its position of not paying ransom to terrorists.

The release of the four Europeans was almost derailed at the last moment when a convoy led by the government's contact man, Ernesto Pacuno, a retired police captain code-named Dragon, was ambushed three miles from the rebel camp. Pacuno escaped unharmed but one bodyguard was killed and eight were wounded. The group was believed to be carrying a large sum of money and was to have led the hostages to safety. Instead, the government sent in a helicopter for the captives.

Western diplomats said the ambush might have been carried out by an Abu Sayyaf faction attempting to steal the ransom money. Abu Sayyaf leaders have been divided in recent weeks over how to split up the great sums of pesos they have acquired. The group, despite its alleged ideological goals, has been in the kidnapping business for years.

German, Finnish and French politicians celebrated the release of the four hostages, but some expressed concern that the apparent payoffs to Abu Sayyaf rebels could encourage more hostage-taking to finance insurgent movements.

"Part of protecting human rights involves making sure hostage-taking does not become a peccadillo, an everyday business that can be settled with dollars," German President Johannes Rau told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

The release of Wallert marked the end to a protracted family drama for the family from Goettingen, Germany. In July, Wallert's ailing mother, Renate, was the first Westerner released by the rebels, and his father, Werner, was freed two weeks ago in another wave of liberation set in motion by reported payoffs.

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja also reacted to the hostage releases with a mixture of joy over his countrymen's belated freedom and concern that ransom had been paid by Libya to bring that about.

"We don't have any exact knowledge [of ransom payments]. If money has changed hands--and everything undoubtedly suggests that it has--we have not been asked and we have not contributed," he said.

In Paris, French President Jacques Chirac issued a statement expressing joy over Loisy's release and urging freedom for the two French journalists still held.

Times staff writer Carol J. Williams in Berlin contributed to this report.
___________________________________________________________

September 12, 2000, Associated Press, 4 Freed Hostages Reach Libya; Captors Are Accused of Rape,

TRIPOLI, Libya — Four European hostages freed by rebels in the Philippines reached the Libyan capital Monday, with one saying they were powerless to prevent their captors from raping some of the female hostages.

Risto Vahanen, a Finn who was among 21 captives held for as many as 140 days in the Philippine jungle, told Finnish MTV3 that other hostages couldn't do anything to help the women being abused by the rebels.

"Some, a few, women there were treated in an inappropriate manner," Vahanen said, and answered "yes" when asked if they had been raped.

He said the rape victims did not want their names disclosed but wanted the attacks to be made public. "They were of the opinion that it had to be made public, without names, so that the world would know what Robot had done," Vahanen said, referring to rebel leader Ghalib "Robot" Andang.

"It was quite surprising because otherwise we were treated in a proper way," he said in an interview before leaving the Philippines.

The four former hostages' arrival in Tripoli, which followed their release Saturday, came amid fears that Libyan payments to the guerrillas would only encourage more hostage-taking.

Libya reportedly paid $1 million each to secure freedom for the German, Frenchman and two Finns, including Vahanen, who left the Philippines on Monday after being held for months by the Abu Sayyaf, the smaller of two rebel groups fighting for an independent Muslim state in the southern Philippines.

A day after the four hostages were released Saturday, three men, all Malaysians, were abducted near the site where Abu Sayyaf rebels had kidnapped 21 people, including the four Europeans, on April 23.

One Philippine resort worker, a member of the group seized in April, remains in captivity. Two French television journalists, captured when they visited the rebels' camp, are still being held by the Abu Sayyaf. The guerrillas also are holding 12 Philippine Christian evangelists and a 24-year-old American, Jeffrey Schilling.

Libyan officials have denied ransom was paid, saying they instead secured the rebels' confidence by funding development projects in the southern Philippines. But negotiators said Libya paid $1 million ransom for each of 10 of the released hostages.
________________________________________________________

April 14, 2001, Associated Press, Freed American Denies Rebel Conspiracy,

MANILA — A California man, rescued barefoot and mosquito-bitten from Muslim rebels who threatened to behead him, denied Friday that he had conspired with the guerrillas and said he slipped from his chains as elite troops fired on his captors.

Jeffrey Schilling, 25, of Oakland, wolfed down fried chicken, fried fish, an omelet, rice, a sandwich and chunks of mango in his first meal in freedom before flying to Manila to meet army generals and U.S. Embassy officials. He told reporters that he lost 100 pounds in seven months as a hostage of the Abu Sayyaf rebels.

A day after troops chased off his captors in a raid on the southern island of Jolo, 600 miles south of Manila, Schilling, looking fit and alert, said he wanted to "go back to the U.S. and be with my family."

Schilling, a Muslim convert, denied persistent rumors that he was a willing hostage of the group, which says it is fighting to carve a separate Muslim homeland out of the southern Philippines.

Schilling was kidnapped while visiting a rebel camp last August, shortly after he married a guerrilla leader's cousin.
________________________________________________________

September 3, 2000, Negotiator Named for U.S. Captive, From Times Wire Reports,

The Philippine government said it had designated a negotiator for the release of American captive Jeffrey Schilling. Munib Estino, the vice governor of Sulu province in the southern Philippines, has been assigned to deal with the Abu Sayyaf rebels for Schilling's release, said presidential spokesman Ricardo Puno. The announcement came as an Abu Sayyaf spokesman denied reports that his group was demanding $10 million in ransom for Schilling but said unidentified anti-U.S. groups had offered the rebels money to kill him. The rebels said Schilling had begun a hunger strike. Philippine officials have said that the 24-year-old Schilling, a Muslim from Oakland, suffers from asthma and an eye ailment and that he might have heart trouble.

_____________________________________________________________

April 13, 2000, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, At Least 56 Reported Killed After Ferry Tips,

An overloaded wooden Philippine ferryboat headed for Malaysia capsized, killing at least 56 people, officials said today. More than 100 others were missing and feared dead. Nineteen people were rescued as of this morning, said Gov. Abdu Sakur of Sulu province in the south. He said the ferry Arlahada capsized shortly after leaving Jolo, the provincial capital, on Wednesday night. Many passengers were crowded onto one side of the boat, causing it to tip, he said. Many people were trapped inside the cabin after it capsized, he said. "We are still searching for the more than 100 passengers who are still missing," he said. The ferry was headed for the province of Tawi Tawi and then the Malaysian state of Sabah. [Complete]
_________________________________________________________________

May 11, 2000, Associated Press, Rebels Are Said to Mull Plea to Free Ill Hostages,

JOLO, Philippines — Muslim rebels holding 21 Western and Asian hostages at a Philippine jungle hide-out said Wednesday that they would reply within 24 hours to appeals that two ailing captives be released, officials said.

Meanwhile, Philippine troops pulled back their cordon around the rebels' hide-out, moving to the base of the mountain on remote Jolo island, an army spokesman, Lt. Abe Sarajian, said Wednesday. He gave no reason for the pullback.

The move came after a Libyan envoy, Rajab Azzarouk, met with the Abu Sayyaf rebels. Azzarouk, who has extensive personal contacts among Muslims in the troubled southern region of Mindanao, said the rebels have made some political demands. He did not elaborate.

He said he asked the rebels to free two ailing hostages: a German woman who, her family says, has suffered two strokes and a Frenchman with a urinary tract infection. The rebels promised a response within a day.

The hostages--believed to be three Germans, two French, two South Africans, two Finns, a Lebanese, 10 Malaysians and a Filipina--were snatched from a diving resort on the Malaysian island of Sipadan on April 23 and taken to Jolo, an hour's boat ride away.

Nelsa Amin, a doctor who accompanied Azzarouk, said she provided the group with medicine, food, clothing and two stretchers. [Complete]
____________________________________________________________

May 18, 2000, Associated Press, Philippine Rebels Demand $2 Million for Ailing Hostage,

JOLO, Philippines — Islamic rebels are asking $2 million in ransom for an ailing German woman who is among their 21 hostages--a demand that Philippine negotiators have rejected.

Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon said the Abu Sayyaf rebels had increased their demand from the $1 million previously asked for the release of Renate Wallert, 57, who has high blood pressure.

The hostages--three Germans, two French citizens, two South Africans, two Finns, a Lebanese, 10 Malaysians and a Filipina--were abducted April 23 from Sipadan Island, a Malaysian diving resort. They were then taken to the southern Philippine island of Jolo.

Despite intense international pressure to secure the release of the hostages--especially Wallert--chief negotiator Robert Aventajado said the government has ruled out any ransom payment, as have each of the governments of the foreign hostages. [Complete]
_____________________________________________________________

May 24, 2000, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, Hostage-Takers, Mediator Set Talks,

Islamic rebels left their mountain hide-out on the southern Philippine island of Jolo to meet with a government negotiator to arrange the start of formal talks aimed at freeing 21 hostages. In informal talks, the Abu Sayyaf rebels have asked for as much as $2 million for an ailing German hostage. The rebels are holding three Germans, two French, two Finns, two South Africans, a Lebanese, 10 Malaysians and a Filipina kidnapped from a Malaysian resort April 23. The Philippine government said the talks will begin Thursday. [Complete]
______________________________________________________________

May 28, 2000, Associated Press, Talks to Free Hostages Begin in Philippines,

TALIPAO, Philippines — Government negotiators and Muslim rebel leaders held their first talks Saturday concerning the freedom of 21 hostages who have been held in the jungle for more than a month.

They did not discuss the immediate release of any of the hostages, said the government's chief negotiator, Robert Aventajado.

Aventajado rejected two of the Abu Sayyaf rebels' main demands: an independent Islamic state and an investigation of the treatment of Filipinos in Malaysia. Nevertheless, the rebels were "very reasonable, and I am optimistic," he said.The 21 were seized April 23 on Sipadan Island in Malaysia and taken to the Philippine island of Jolo.  [Complete]
___________________________________________________________

July 9, 2000, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, Captives Given Cake and Relief Supplies,

Boxes of food, a birthday cake and other supplies were delivered to 20 mostly foreign hostages who have been held by Muslim rebels since April 23 in the dense Philippine jungle, officials said. There still was no indication of when leaders of the extremist Abu Sayyaf group might free their captives. The group was kidnapped from the Malaysian diving resort of Sipadan Island and brought to nearby Jolo Island in the Philippines. The Abu Sayyaf is the smaller but more violent of two Muslim rebel groups fighting for an independent Islamic state in the southern Philippines. [Complete]
______________________________________________________________

July 28, 2000, Associated Press, Philippine Rebels Free Journalist,

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines — Muslim extremists Thursday released a reporter for a German magazine who was held alone in the jungle for 25 days after he was abducted while covering a group of hostages in the southern Philippines.

Andreas Lorenz, a reporter for Der Spiegel, was among six journalists held by rebels on Jolo island. All were seized while reporting on 21 mostly foreign hostages abducted from a Malaysian diving resort in April by Abu Sayyaf guerrillas.

"It's the worst ordeal in my life. I will never come back to Jolo," Lorenz said after being released.

It was not clear whether any ransom was paid.

The Abu Sayyaf has also freed six Malaysians and one German from the original 21 hostages seized from Malaysia's Sipadan island. About $4.2 million was paid for their release, military officials said. [Complete]
____________________________________________________________

July 30, 2000, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, 2 Journalists Held by Rebels Are Freed,

Muslim rebels released two Filipino journalists but did not say when they would free 29 other hostages, including 15 foreigners, held on a southern Philippine island. Val Cuenca and Maan Macapagal of ABS-CBN, the Philippines' largest TV network, were handed over in the town of Patikul on Jolo island, where they were abducted Monday on their way back from interviewing the rebels, government officials said. After their release, the two were taken to a military camp in the town of Jolo and then flown to Zamboanga on the island of Mindanao. [Complete]
______________________________________________________________

August 17, 2000, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, Rebels Free Hostage, Say Others to Follow,

Muslim rebels freed a Philippine woman held hostage for nearly four months on one of the nation's remote islands--a sign, officials said, "that everything should proceed smoothly" for the release of at least a dozen Western captives. Lucrecia Dablo, an employee at Malaysia's Sipadan diving resort and one of 21 mostly foreign hostages abducted by Abu Sayyaf rebels from the resort April 23, was not told ahead of time of her release. Frightened when suddenly taken by armed men from a hide-out on Jolo island in the southern Philippines, she said later: "I did not expect to be the first one to go." [Complete]
_________________________________________________________________

August 18, 2000, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, Hostage Release Thrown Off Track,

Government negotiators scrambled to put the release of Western hostages held by Muslim rebels back on track after Philippine President Joseph Estrada rejected a plan that would have left three French journalists in captivity. In addition, bad weather prevented the negotiators from flying to Jolo, a remote southern island where the Abu Sayyaf rebels are holding the captives. Chief government negotiator Robert Aventajado, who had been willing to settle for an initial release of the nine Western tourists, said Estrada insisted that the three TV journalists be released at the same time. [Complete]

______________________________________________________________

September 24, 2001, Text of Bush's executive order freezing terrorist assets,

Executive Order

Blocking Property and Prohibiting Transactions With Persons Who Commit, Threaten to Commit, or Support Terrorism

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.)(IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), section 5 of the United Nations Participation Act of 1945, as amended (22 U.S.C. 287c) (UNPA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and in view of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1214 of December 8, 1998, UNSCR 1267 of October 15, 1999, UNSCR 1333 of December 19, 2000, and the multilateral sanctions contained therein, and UNSCR 1363 of July 30, 2001, establishing a mechanism to monitor the implementation of UNSCR 1333, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, find that grave acts of terrorism and threats of terrorism committed by foreign terrorists, including the terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon committed onSeptember 11, 2001, acts recognized and condemned in UNSCR 1368 of September 12, 2001, and UNSCR 1269 of October 19, 1999, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on United States nationals or the United States constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, and in furtherance of my proclamation of September 14, 2001, Declaration of National Emergency by Reason of Certain Terrorist Attacks, hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat. I also find that because of the pervasiveness and expansiveness of the financial foundation of foreign terrorists, financial sanctions may be appropriate for those foreign persons that support or otherwise associate with these foreign terrorists. I also find that a need exists for further consultation and cooperation with, and sharing of information by, United States and foreign financial institutions as an additional tool to enable the United States to combat the financing of terrorism.

I hereby order: Section 1. Except to the extent required by section 203(b) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)), or provided in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the effective date of this order, all property and interests in property of the following persons that are in the United States or that hereafter come within the United States, or that hereafter come within the possession or control of United States persons are blocked:

(a) foreign persons listed in the Annex to this order;

(b) foreign persons determined by the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Attorney General, to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States;

(c) persons determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, to be owned or controlled by, or to act for or on behalf of those persons listed in the Annex to this order or those persons determined to be subject to subsection 1(b), 1(c), or 1(d)(i) of this order;

(d) except as provided in section 5 of this order and after such consultation, if any, with foreign authorities as the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Attorney General, deems appropriate in the exercise of his discretion, persons determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General;
(i) to assist in, sponsor, or provide financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, such acts of terrorism or those persons listed in the Annex to this order or determined to be subject to this order; or

(ii) to be otherwise associated with those persons listed in the Annex to this order or those persons determined to be subject to subsection 1(b), 1(c), or 1(d)(i) of this order.

Sec. 2. Except to the extent required by section 203(b) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)), or provided in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the effective date:

(a) any transaction or dealing by United States persons or within the United States in property or interests in property blocked pursuant to this order is prohibited, including but not limited to the making or receiving of any contribution of funds, goods, or services to or for the benefit of those persons listed in the Annex to this order or determined to be subject to this order;

(b) any transaction by any United States person or within the United States that evades or avoids, or has the purpose of evading or avoiding, or attempts to violate, any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited; and

(c) any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

Sec. 3. For purposes of this order:

(a) the term "person" means an individual or entity;

(b) the term "entity" means a partnership, association, corporation, or other organization, group, or subgroup;

(c) the term "United States person" means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States; and

(d) the term "terrorism" means an activity that --


(i) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure; and

(ii) appears to be intended --
(A) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(B) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

(C) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping, or hostage-taking.

Sec. 4. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by United States persons to persons determined to be subject to this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in this order, and would endanger Armed Forces of the United States that are in a situation where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, and hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order. Furthermore, I hereby determine that the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (title IX, Public Law 106-387) shall not affect the imposition or the continuation of the imposition of any unilateral agricultural sanction or unilateral medical sanction on any person determined to be subject to this order because imminent involvement of the Armed Forces of the United States in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances.

Sec. 5. With respect to those persons designated pursuant to subsection 1(d) of this order, the Secretary of the Treasury, in the exercise of his discretion and in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, may take such other actions than the complete blocking of property or interests in property as the President is authorized to take under IEEPA and UNPA if the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, deems such other actions to be consistent with the national interests of the United States, considering such factors as he deems appropriate.

Sec. 6. The Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, and other appropriate agencies shall make all relevant efforts to cooperate and coordinate with other countries, including through technical assistance, as well as bilateral and multilateral agreements and arrangements, to achieve the objectives of this order, including the prevention and suppression of acts of terrorism, the denial of financing and financial services to terrorists and terrorist organizations, and the sharing of intelligence about funding activities in support of terrorism.

Sec. 7. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA and UNPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order.

Sec. 8. Nothing in this order is intended to affect the continued effectiveness of any rules, regulations, orders, licenses, or other forms of administrative action issued, taken, or continued in effect heretofore or hereafter under 31 C.F.R. chapter V, except as expressly terminated, modified, or suspended by or pursuant to this order.

Sec. 9. Nothing contained in this order is intended to create, nor does it create, any right, benefit, or privilege, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by a party against the United States, its agencies, officers, employees or any other person.

Sec. 10. For those persons listed in the Annex to this order or determined to be subject to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that because of the ability to transfer funds or assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render these measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to this order.

Sec. 11. (a) This order is effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on September 24, 2001.

(b) This order shall be transmitted to the Congress and published in the Federal Register.

GEORGE W. BUSH
THE WHITE HOUSE,
September 23, 2001.

ANNEX
Al Qaida/Islamic Army
Abu Sayyaf Group
Armed Islamic Group (GIA)
Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM)
Al-Jihad (Egyptian Islamic Jihad)
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)
Asbat al-Ansar
Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC)
Libyan Islamic Fighting Group
Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya (AIAI)
Islamic Army of Aden
Usama bin Laden
Muhammad Atif (aka, Subhi Abu Sitta, Abu Hafs Al Masri)
Sayf al-Adl
Shaykh Sai'id (aka, Mustafa Muhammad Ahmad)
Abu Hafs the Mauritanian (aka, Mahfouz Ould al-Walid, Khalid Al- Shanqiti)
Ibn Al-Shaykh al-Libi
Abu Zubaydah (aka, Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, Tariq)
Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi (aka, Abu Abdallah)
Ayman al-Zawahiri
Thirwat Salah Shihata
Tariq Anwar al-Sayyid Ahmad (aka, Fathi, Amr al-Fatih)
Muhammad Salah (aka, Nasr Fahmi Nasr Hasanayn)
Makhtab Al-Khidamat/Al Kifah
Wafa Humanitarian Organization
Al Rashid Trust
Mamoun Darkazanli Import-Export Company
_____________________________________________________________________


April 14, 2005, Los Angeles Times, Bridging Philippines' Islands of Faith, by Richard C. Paddock, Times Staff Writer,

AFTER POPE JOHN PAUL II

Catholics and Muslims have lived in inequality for centuries. The pope reached out to both.

MANILA — Baclaran Redemptorist Church is a cavernous, seven-story structure with a vaulted ceiling and hundreds of pews. Throughout the day Wednesday, 120,000 Catholics came to worship, as they do every Wednesday. Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass here.

Across busy Roxas Boulevard is the Baclaran Grand Mosque. Despite its name, there is nothing grand about it. Unfinished after nine years, its modest onion dome presides over a squatters' settlement of poverty and squalor. After fire swept through the community of 5,000 this week, destroying 170 shanties and killing two children in their sleep, Muslim leaders complained that they were receiving little help from the Catholic-dominated central government.

FOR THE RECORD:
Catholic population —A graphic accompanying an article in Thursday's Section A about Catholicism in the Philippines said Mexico had 126 million Catholics. Estimates vary, but most sources put the number of Catholics in Mexico at about 90 million.

The contrast between the church and the mosque highlights the gulf between two groups that have lived side by side in inequality for centuries. The world's largest Roman Catholic country with a substantial Muslim population, the Philippines is a divided nation that witnesses frequent violence between followers of the two faiths.

Now, with the death of John Paul, many Filipino Catholics and Muslims hope that his successor will continue his efforts to reach out to Muslims. Many Muslims here also hope the next pope will maintain John Paul's strong stance against the war in Iraq, a conflict they view as an attack on their religion by the United States.

"If the new pope is not a peace-loving man, I don't know what will happen," said Abdelmana Tanandato, 44, a Muslim who lives in a shack next to the mosque. "I hope the new pope will be the same as John Paul II."

The tension in the Philippines between the religions underlines a global rift that John Paul, more than any of his predecessors, worked to bridge. As Catholic cardinals prepare to convene in the Vatican next week to choose his successor, they are divided over how vigorously the next pope should pursue conciliation with Islam, which like Catholicism, boasts about 1 billion adherents.

John Paul met with Islamic leaders all over the world, preaching brotherhood and engaging in dialogue. He apologized for past misdeeds of the church, including the Crusades. In Syria in 2001, just four months before the Sept. 11 attacks, he became the first pope to enter a mosque.

But his outreach to Islam and other religions worried many in his own church who felt that he was leading it into relativism, the belief that no religion is any more authentic than another. The Vatican's own doctrinal office appeared to undermine his effort in 2000 with a document asserting the supremacy of Christian faith as a means to salvation.

The head of the doctrinal office and author of that document, German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, is a leading candidate to become the next pope. He views the relationship between Christianity and Islam as one of competition and calls for shoring up Europe's Christian identity as the number of Muslim immigrants grows. Other cardinals, in remarks since the pope's death April 2, have stressed the need for cooperation.

"The history between Catholicism and Islam is not a happy one,"Cardinal Francis George of Chicago said at the Vatican last week. "We want to live at peace in a global society, so a dialogue with Islam is particularly important."

Catholicism, imported to the Philippines by explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, swept Islam aside long ago to become the country's dominant religion.

Most of the nation's 68 million Catholics and 5 million Muslims live in poverty, but Muslims are relegated to second-class status with little voice in the affairs of the government or the economy.

"One of the richest churches here in the Philippines is the Catholic Church, and the Muslims are very poor," said Cosain Naga, a Muslim activist who ran unsuccessfully for Congress. "By that comparison, you can see that there is a big neglect of the Muslims. There is no equal treatment."

In a country of 84 million people, Muslims are barely represented within the government. There are no Muslims in the president's Cabinet and no Muslim members of the Senate. Just 12 of Congress' 236 members are Muslims.

The southern Philippines, where most of the country's Muslims live, has become a breeding ground for Islamic extremism. Groups such as Abu Sayyaf, which has historic ties toOsama bin Laden, have carried out deadly bombings against Christian targets. The group has also kidnapped dozens of Christians in the south, beheading some and releasing others for ransom. Mainstream Muslim leaders reject Abu Sayyaf's claim to represent Islam.

In 1995, Manila police uncovered a scheme by Muslim extremists connected with Al Qaeda to assassinate John Paul during a visit here and bomb 11 airliners over the Pacific. The plan was foiled, but some of the plotters escaped detection and went on to organize the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

The Philippine central government, with the backing of the United States, has responded to the threat by waging war against the extremists. The military has deployed 81,000 troops in the south and frequently uses its small air force to bomb Muslim areas where rebels are believed to be operating.

This week, a U.S. diplomat here warned that the southern island of Mindanao was becoming "the new Mecca for terrorism" and that foreign extremists were operating freely in the area. Parts of the island are so lawless, said Charge d'Affaires Joseph Mussomeli, that it runs the risk of becoming another Afghanistan.

"Many Muslims don't feel they belong to the Filipino nation because the Filipino nation is Christian," Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato City acknowledged in a telephone interview. "The government and the church should bridge the gap between Muslims and Christians in ways that are imaginative to make the two groups one Filipino nation."

Quevedo noted that the pope's record as an advocate of peace won praise even from militant Muslim leaders, such as Mohagher Iqbal, chief information officer for the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Mindanao. The group, with at least 10,000 armed combatants, has been negotiating on and off with the government to reach a peace accord.

The pope was "a tireless campaigner of world peace and champion of religious reconciliation," Iqbal said. "The passing away of the pope is a great loss to the world. He is a very important figure who dedicated his life to peace and justice for all."

The Catholic Church has long been active politically in the Philippines, backing the ouster of President Ferdinand Marcos during the "people power" revolt of 1986.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyocaused a stir last week by saying that John Paul personally gave her his blessing in 2000 when she was vice president to oust then-President Joseph Estrada. Accused of stealing millions of dollars, Estrada remains under arrest at a military camp, and his trial has been dragging on for years.

"He was very encouraging toward me with regard to my taking steps to make sure that I would do what I could do in order to promote morality in Philippine society," Arroyo said in an interview on CNN.

Arroyo acknowledged that as president she had heeded church advice to oppose divorce, population-control programs, same-sex marriage and the death penalty.

Critics contend that church policies opposing family planning and the use of condoms have contributed to the country's widespread poverty and the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Even some Filipino priests say privately that it is time for the church to reevaluate its stand against condoms because of the need to halt the spread of the deadly sexually transmitted disease.

Church leaders, however, do not expect significant changes with the selection of a new pope, in part because John Paul appointed nearly all the cardinals who will choose his successor.

"Whoever comes in, the election of a new pope will always be an occasion for a wider discussion of areas that were not encouraged for discussion," said Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi of Caceres. "Whether it will lead to a change, I don't know."

Some churchmen say John Paul had a special fondness for the Philippines dating back to his first visit, in 1973 as a cardinal. He made a brief stop in Manila as he flew from Europe to Australia for a conference. At the time, the Philippines and Poland did not have diplomatic relations, and he could not legally enter the Philippines on his passport.

But immigration officials learned of his desire to say Mass at a Manilachurch. They allowed him to enter the country and suggested that he visit Baclaran, which is near the airport. It happened to be a Wednesday and the church was crowded with worshipers.

When he visited the Philippines for the first time as pope in 1981, he made the Baclaran church his first stop.

At the time, there were few Muslims in the neighborhood. But over the last decade, some have fled the violence in Mindanao for the district around the Baclaran church and the hope of making a living in Manila. Many have become street vendors, selling pirated DVDs and other goods.

In 1996, they began building the Baclaran Grand Mosque, which consists of a large room supported by four 25-foot columns. The building has a roof, but some of the unfinished concrete walls bristle with iron bars. Built on reclaimed land near the center of the city, the mosque gives permanence to the settlement, which might otherwise be razed by authorities seeking to use the valuable acreage for other purposes.

Some of the hovels around the mosque are made of cinderblocks; others have walls of scrap wood or plastic sheeting.

Not a single tree grows on the site, and the ground around the perimeter is littered with trash accumulated over years. There is no city sanitation system, no water supply or electricity.

Like residents of the squatters' settlement, Muslims throughout the Philippines believe they are victims of discrimination by the Catholic-dominated government. They hope the next pope will continue trying to bring the religions together.

"I think that the pope, as the head of a big religion, can be a beacon, can make changes in treating the Muslims," said Naga, the activist. "We want a younger and stronger version of Pope John Paul II, so he can continue the work of the Vatican in reaching out to the Muslims for peace."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Center of belief

The Philippines is one of the world centers of Roman Catholic population:
Religious composition
Catholic: 81%
Protestant: 9%
Muslim: 5%
Buddhist / other: 5%

Nations with most Catholics, in millions:
Brazil: 151
Mexico: 126
Philippines: 68
United States: 64
Italy: 58

Sources: Catholic-hierarchy.org; CIAWorld Fact Book, Times reporting. Graphics reporting by Tom Reinken

Times staff writer Richard Boudreaux in Rome contributed to this report.

______________________________________________________________________


July 8, 2005, Chicago Tribune / Los Angeles Times, 'If I give in to the worry, the terrorists won', by Christine Spolar, Tribune foreign correspondent,

LONDON—Elayne Rowed had planned to take the 3 o'clock train from Paddington Station to her home, 200 miles away in Devon, and, hours after the worst terror attack ever in central London, she saw no reason why the trains wouldn't run as scheduled.

She was right.

"I think the authorities did their homework," the 67-year-old retired nurse said briskly as she gathered her bags to board a waiting train in a nearly empty station. "Things are being dealt with as they should be. We just have to push on. If I give in to the worry, the terrorists have won."

Londoners were first dazed and then determined Thursday as they coped with a wave of deadly bombs that crippled the spine of the nation's transport system. The first reports of calamity--described as a destructive power surge in one subway station during rush hour--proved confused and wrong. Within the hour, Londoners realized that hundreds of miles of track and thousands of trains and buses were at risk.

Subway cars were mangled. A double-decker bus was shredded. Underground riders had fought their way to street level through darkened tunnels, in tears and gasping for breath. Bodies were gashed and lying between rails. Emergency workers were clambering through glass and bent steel, looking for the living and dead.

By midday, survivors were recounting moments of deep fear to listeners tuned to radio and television. One young woman named Emma, who was riding on the Piccadilly Line as a bomb struck, told the British Broadcasting Corp. that she waited in smoke-choked darkness with dozens of other riders for nearly a half-hour without help.

Her eyes stinging, the young woman said, she was quietly panicking when a male voice from a rescue worker down the tunnel reached her cabin.

"Hang on in there, guys," the worker said. "We're here to help you."

Above ground, passengers recounted on British media how they were unsure what to do or where to go. Many people, stained with grime, maintained calm. One man said that as his carriage filled with smoke, people began praying and crying and then lashing out at the train windows. People had ripped their flesh on broken glass in their urgency to escape, he said.

There seemed to be no sense to why the stations or the bus were targeted. No one later could imagine why Londoners passing through Edgware Road, Liverpool Street or King's Cross stations should be particularly vulnerable.

The No. 30 bus serves a working-class neighborhood. The double-decker was jammed Thursday with morning rush-hour workers when an explosion sheared off its top. People and papers flew through the air, witnesses said.

Sarah Bourn, principal at Christ Church Bentinck School, heard a loud bang shortly after 9 a.m., and her school shook. She thought a piece of equipment of some kind had fallen on the building, which is a block from the Edgware Road Station.

An hour passed before Bourn heard the news. A parent called, panicked. Soon, the school's phone lines were flooded. Bourn said she assured the parents that the children were safe. They stayed in the building all day; recess was canceled.

"There was no panic in the school," Bourn said.

One nursery teacher, Emma Goodrum, said she had traveled on the subway and walked out of the Edgware Road Station minutes before the explosion. As she readied herself to walk miles across London on Thursday afternoon, Goodrum seemed somber but not scared.

"It's not like Sept. 11 here," Goodrum said. "There wasn't hysterics."

British transport authorities shut down the entire system--buses, subways and trains--after the attacks. Airports remained open with guards, armed with automatic rifles, appearing at entrances. By the afternoon, some buses were operating and rail service for trains running beyond London began reopening.

That meant Whitney Mortimer, 43, from San Francisco could ride theHeathrow Express into London. She arrived at Paddington Station to join a very long line of out-of-towners waiting for taxis and trying to digest London's new reality.

"I just got here, and I'm seriously considering whether I should just turn around," said Mortimer, manager of a design company.

"We are staying," said Flora Day, aPhiladelphia mother of two in the same line who landed Thursday afternoon with her family for vacation. "This can happen anywhere anymore."

Victoria Station, the main hub for express trains to Gatwick Airport, was shuttered through the afternoon. Nearby offices were evacuated at one point.

Some workers left for good before noon as rain drenched the city streets. Others popped into nearby pubs, downing ale and wine as they listened to radio reports of the blasts.

"We're trapped in London," said airport consultant Peter Johnson as he finished his third white wine Thursday morning. "You have to give in to the reality of the situation. You can't do much."

Alex Charter, a 25-year-old banker, stood outside the station, trying to get a cab for a 3 p.m. flight to France, but failing.

"In all honesty, there always has been the idea this could happen," Charter said about the attacks. "It's always there, but you never really think about it. . . . But at the end of day, you have to wonder: What is it they were trying to do to us? Scare us?

"Sure, today I don't really want to get on a bus. But I will."

- - -

Deadliest attacks on civilians since9/11

2002 - Oct. 12 Bali, Indonesia

A car bomb in a tourist district kills more than 180 people, most of them foreigners. The blast is blamed on Jemaah Islamiyah, an Al Qaeda-linked group.

- Oct. 23-26 Moscow

About 50 Chechen militants storm a theater and take more than 700 people hostage. Nearly all the hostage-takers are killed, while more than 100 audience members die from a gas used in the rescue operation.

2003 - Aug. 29 Najaf, Iraq

At least 90 people are killed by a car bomb outside a Shiite shrine.

2004 - Feb. 1 Irbil, Iraq

Suicide bombers kill at least 109 people at two Kurdish political party offices.

- Feb. 21 Lira, Uganda

The Lords Resistance Army, a rebel group advocating a political system based on the 10 Commandments, kills at least 192 people at a refugee camp.

- Feb. 27 Manila

A bomb explodes aboard a ferry, killing 118 people. The attack is blamed on Abu Sayyaf, a group with Al Qaeda ties.

- March 5 Baghdad and Karbala, Iraq

A series of bombings kills at least 180 on a Shiite holy day.

- March 11 Madrid

Bombs left in backpacks and triggered by cell phones detonate in four locations along Madrid's commuter train system, killing nearly 200. The attack is blamed on a group linked to Al Qaeda.

- Sept. 1-3 Beslan, Russia

More than 350 people, many of them children, are killed after Chechen militants seize a school on the first day of classes.

Sources: MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base, Tribune archives
___________________________________________________________________


August 19, 2000, Reuters / Los Angeles Times, Rebels Free 3 Malaysians; More Releases Expected,

JOLO, Philippines — Three Malaysians held by Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines for four months were on their way to freedom today, and a dozen European and South African hostages were to be released soon, officials said.

Two key negotiators entered rebel-held territory on Jolo island, hoping to bring back the foreigners held by the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas.

About 100 miles away in Zamboanga, Malaysian Ambassador H.M. Arshad told reporters that three captives from his country already had been freed.

"I know they have been released; they are now on their way to Zamboanga," he said.

There was no immediate word on a Filipino held along with the Malaysians. One of them is a Malaysian forest ranger and the other three are workers on the Sipadan island resort, off Borneo, from which they were kidnapped April 23.

Negotiators had said all four were handed over to an emissary on Friday, but apparently they could not make their way to freedom because of bad weather.

The other hostages are nine tourists also snatched off Sipadan and three French television journalists abducted last month on Jolo. Complete
___________________________________________________________________

August 30, 2000, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, U.S. Demands That Rebels Free American,

The U.S. demanded the release of an American kidnapped in the Philippines but said it would not pay any ransom or make deals with the Muslim rebels who seized him. A State Department spokesman said U.S. officials had gone to the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga to speak to local officials about the kidnapping of Jeffrey Edwards Craig Schilling of Oakland. He said an emissary of Philippine negotiator Robert Aventajado had reported seeing Schilling, 24, on the southern island of Jolo in the hands of Abu Sayyaf rebels. Meanwhile, six Western hostages freed this week on Jolo were handed over to representatives of their governments in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. [Complete]

_____________________________________________________________________


September 17, 2000, Los Angeles Times, 18 Held in Philippine Troop Invasion, by David Lamb, Times Staff Writer,

Asia: The government releases few details in the ongoing offensive against Muslim insurgents. There is no word on the fate of the rebels' 19 captives.

BANGKOK, Thailand — The Philippine army pushed Saturday to the doorstep of a rebel stronghold where 19 hostages were held, including an American and two Frenchmen, in an artillery-backed operation aimed at halting the cycle of violence and kidnappings in the southern Philippines.

There was no word on the fate of the hostages on Jolo island, 600 miles south of Manila.

"They haven't been eyeballed," presidential spokesman Ricardo Puno said early today as the assault continued. "The rebels are clearly moving them from place to place."

Few official details of the operation were released other than the capture of 18 suspected rebels. Phone lines to Jolo were cut. But President Joseph Estrada admitted in a nationwide address that the mission entailed "grave risks" for both the hostages and his own soldiers.

Although the government termed the attack a rescue operation, it had all the appearances of a full-scale invasion--including aerial bombardments, artillery and armored personal carriers--and was clearly designed to destroy the Abu Sayyaf rebels, who taunted the government by releasing hostages for ransom, then kidnapping more to take their place.

"We have to put an end to the cycle," Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado told the Reuters news agency. "It has cost us our national pride. It embarrassed us."

The timing of Saturday morning's attack on Jolo was something of an embarrassment to Washington because Defense Secretary William S. Cohen was in Manila as part of a wider Southeast Asian visit and had expressed hopes that the five-month hostage crisis would be solved diplomatically. He said the U.S. had no role in the invasion.

"I was given a heads-up [that] action was imminent," he told reporters Saturday. "No specific details were communicated to me."

Cohen, however, did not criticize Estrada's decision to move militarily and said it was up to the Philippines to decide whether to use force.

But France expressed "deep anxiety and disagreement" in a statement released by President Jacques Chirac. The two Frenchmen, journalists Jean-Jacques Le Garrec and Roland Madura from France 2 TV, had been scheduled for release Friday until rival Abu Sayyaf factions started bickering over how to divide the ransom.

The American, Jeffrey Schilling, 24, a Muslim convert from Oakland, was seized in late August after wandering into the rebel camp for unexplained reasons with his Philippine wife, Ivi Osani, a cousin of one rebel leader. She was released, but the rebels threatened to behead Schilling if the army attacked.

In addition to Schilling and the French journalists, the Abu Sayyaf--which professes to be fighting for an Islamic state but is generally dismissed as a professional kidnapping ring--is holding 12 Philippine Christian evangelists, three Malaysians and a Filipino, who was seized April 23 with a group of 20 others, 10 of them foreigners, on a Malaysian resort island.

Estrada's decision to use force appeared to have been a result of the Abu Sayyaf's greed.

After releasing the final foreigners--two Finns, a German and a Frenchman--on Sept. 9 from the group kidnapped in April and receiving $4 million in ransom, the rebels returned to Malaysia the next day and snatched three other local workers from another resort island. They were taken to Jolo by speedboat. Negotiations had not yet begun on their ransom, but generally Westerns have fetched $1 million each and Asians about one-third that amount.

"Enough is enough," Estrada said Saturday, staring down the TV camera, in his national address. "It is clear that the efforts of our government toward a peaceful, long-term resolution to the problems are being scoffed at by the Abu Sayyaf group."

All told, the Abu Sayyaf's most recent kidnapping spree has netted the group about $15 million in ransom, $10 million of which was paid by Libya, apparently in a goodwill gesture intended to burnish its international image. Libyan officials denied that the payments represented ransom and said they were to be used for development projects in the predominantly Muslim southern Philippines.

Estrada has been under domestic pressure for weeks to end the Jolo crisis, militarily if necessary. In the past, he has dealt harshly with Islamic separatists, but this time he yielded to international pressure and sought a negotiated settlement to decide the fate of the 21 hostages seized in Malaysia.

When the four foreigners were released Sept. 9, he may have felt constraints were lifted, because the other foreign hostages--Schilling and the two French TV journalists--had gone into Abu Sayyaf territory voluntarily.

On Thursday, one of the Philippines' most influential groups, the Catholic Bishops Conference, which traditionally condemns violence in all forms, said it "would not blame the government if it carried out action." The president's decision to send in the army also seemed to have wide popular support in the Philippines, a mostly Christian nation.

The military on Friday ordered all civilian vessels to leave Jolo harbor in order to clear the way for an invasion. Within 24 hours, it began ferrying in troops backed by helicopters and armor, and planes based at Zamboanga, about 100 miles away on the large island of Mindanao, started bombing the rebels' jungle lair.

___________________________________________________________________


September 21, 2000, Los Angeles Times, Philippine Muslims Still Waging Age-Old Resistance, by David Lamb, Times Staff Writer,

MANILA — For more than 400 years, the Philippines' predominantly Muslim southern provinces have resisted, at a bloody cost to all concerned, outside domination. No one--not Spanish and U.S. colonialists, Japanese occupiers or the Manila government--has ever been able to fully integrate the area into the broader nation.

Given that history, Philippine President Joseph Estrada's decision to launch a major military assault on Jolo island last week to free 19 hostages and destroy the Abu Sayyaf rebel movement is a high-risk gamble that is unlikely to end fighting in the war-torn region--particularly if he merely declares victory when the hostage drama is over.

"Everyone will tell you there can be no military solution in the south," said Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, a former commander of the armed forces who spent much of his career battling Muslim separatists on the island of Mindanao. "You have to improve the conditions of people who feel they are have-nots, and that entails political and economic solutions."

After two French hostages escaped their captors and were rescued by troops early Wednesday, Estrada said he would call off the offensive if the other hostages were released. Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic group, made no formal reply and continued its flight into the jungles with its captives, including Oakland resident Jeffrey Schilling.

In a radio interview broadcast today, Schilling said: "I'm fine. I'm well." He appealed to the Philippine government to halt its military assault so that negotiations can resume. The interview, conducted by satellite phone, was the first confirmation that Schilling was still alive.

For the 400,000 residents of Jolo island, being in a war zone is hardly a new experience. The seaside town of Jolo was twice razed by Spanish armadas, and the current war in the south has dragged on at various levels of intensity for about three decades, claiming more than 120,000 lives.

Estrada has shown no tolerance for the separatists' aspirations--"Independence only over my dead body," he says--but he has paid more attention and delivered more economic development to the southern provinces, where most of the nation's 5 million Muslims live, than any other recent president. But the region remains the Philippines' poorest, at least in part because of the continuing warfare.

Spain gave up trying to convert the provinces to Christianity during three centuries of colonial rule. At the beginning of the 20th century, the U.S. had no better luck getting the Moros, as Muslims are called here, to acquiesce to foreign authority.

"The enemy numbered 600, including women and children," Mark Twain wrote of a 1905 battle on Mindanao, "and we [Americans] abolished them utterly, leaving not even a baby to cry for his dead mother."

U.S. soldiers at the time found that their small-bore guns were ineffective against Muslim warriors who charged with their bodies wrapped in rattan strips--a primitive and far-from-perfect version of the bulletproof vest. To counter such attacks, the Americans eventually introduced a more powerful, .45-caliber pistol.

After a period of relative calm following World War II, Islamic strife flared again in Sulu province, where Jolo and scores of other islands and islets are located, and in the rest of the far south when President Ferdinand E. Marcos declared martial law in 1972 and ordered all citizens to turn in their weapons. Feeling threatened, the Moro National Liberation Front, or MNLF, began attacks against the armed forces and eventually grew into a force of thousands before signing a treaty with the government in 1996.

Abu Sayyaf, or "Father of the Sword," was founded in 1991 as a spinoff of the MNLF, with the announced intention of fighting for a "pure" Islamic state. But financed by kidnappings--including $15 million in ransom for the release of 20 hostages over the past three months--and tarnished by human rights violations, it degenerated into what is widely regarded as a band of criminals.

"The Abu Sayyaf rebels are simply lawless elements," Eid Kabalu, a spokesman for another militant Muslim group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, or MILF, said this week. "They are giving Islam a bad name."

In May, the army overran the stronghold of an Abu Sayyaf faction on Basilan island, causing the guerrillas to link up with the group's mainstream elements on nearby Jolo island. Soldiers also threw the MILF into disarray by capturing its rebel camps on Mindanao.

The offensives, and the current one on Jolo, seriously disrupted the Islamic rebels' military capabilities but have by no means ended the south's long history of bloodshed.

_____________________________________________________________________

September 25, 2000, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, 100 Rebels Killed in Assault, Army Says,

More than 100 Muslim rebels were killed in a Philippine military assault against guerrillas holding hostages on a remote southern island, the officer commanding the operation said. But 10 days after launching the attack, troops were still looking for the 17 hostages, including Jeffrey Schilling, 24, of Oakland. Army Brig. Gen. Narciso Abaya said that the operations on Jolo island, 600 miles south of the capital, Manila, were difficult and being hampered by bad weather, rough terrain and local support for the Abu Sayyaf rebels. [Complete]

______________________________________________________________________

October 26, 2000, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, 3 Malaysian Hostages Freed After Clash,

Three Malaysian hostages held by Muslim rebels on a southern Philippine island were rescued after a clash between their captors and troops, officials said. The rescue leaves only American Jeffrey Schilling and a Filipino still in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf rebels. There was no word on their condition. Officials said the Malaysians were rescued after troops raided a mangrove area on Jolo island and clashed for nearly an hour with about 30 rebels. [Complete]

______________________________________________________________________

November 19, 2000, Associated Press, 46 Rebels Surrender in Philippines,

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines — Dozens of Muslim guerrillas from two groups surrendered to authorities as government forces pressed offensives against rebels in the southern Philippines, authorities said.

Police said 25 members of the extremist Abu Sayyaf group gave up Saturday on Jolo island, where the rebels are holding an American and a Filipino hostage.

Police were still trying to rescue Jeffrey Schilling, a Muslim convert from Oakland, and Filipino Roland Ulla, said Candido Casimiro, the police chief in Sulu province.

Schilling, 24, and Ulla were among 19 hostages held captive by Abu Sayyaf when authorities began rescue efforts in mid-September. The other 17 have escaped or been rescued.

On Friday, 21 guerrillas from another Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, surrendered to the military in Basilan province and in the city of Marawi on Mindanao island, the armed forces' Southern Command said. [Complete]

_____________________________________________________________________

December 4, 2000, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, 15 Rebels Found in Grave, Officials Say,

Security forces discovered a mass grave containing 15 bodies of rebels from a Muslim separatist group that is holding an American and a Filipino hostage in the southern Philippines, officials said. The bodies of the Abu Sayyaf rebels were found on Mt. Bagsak on southern Jolo island, the officials said. Thousands of soldiers launched an attack on the Abu Sayyaf rebels Sept. 16 to rescue 19 hostages then being held by the guerrillas on Jolo. Seventeen hostages have since escaped or been rescued. The military said more than 200 guerrillas have been killed so far in the assault. Military spokesman Col. Hilario Atendido said soldiers discovered the mass grave Friday while pursuing the rebels on Mt. Bagsak.  [Complete]

_______________________________________________________________________


September 29, 2001, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, Rebels Abandon Hostage as Police Close In,

Police have rescued a woman held 10 months for ransom by a Muslim extremist group in the southern Philippines, authorities said.

Marilyn Tiu, abducted in November, was abandoned Thursday by Abu Sayyaf gunmen as a special police unit approached their hide-out in Patikul on Jolo island, authorities said.There was no gunfight, police said, and the rebels, who reportedly have ties to Osama bin Laden, escaped and were being pursued.  [Complete]
______________________________________________________________________


October 22, 2001, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, Clashes Kill 16 Muslim Rebels, One Soldier,

Sixteen rebels and a soldier were killed as Muslim guerrillas and Philippine troops clashed in Sulu province, the military said.

Lt. Gen. Roy Cimatu said the fighting began about dawn when soldiers came upon about 100 Abu Sayyaf rebels on Sulu's Jolo island.Sporadic clashes also broke out on nearby Basilan island, where Abu Sayyaf rebels are holding about a dozen hostages, including American missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham of Kansas. They were kidnapped along with a California man whose remains were found this month.  [Complete]

___________________________________________________________________


December 31, 2001, Times Wire Reports, 13 Guerrillas Killed in Military Raid,

Philippine Marines raided a Muslim guerrilla camp in a southern jungle, killing 13 rebels in a five-hour battle, a military official said.

The fight took place Saturday on Jolo island, about 590 miles south of Manila, the latest of a series of battles in the southern Philippines.

The military learned of the rebel casualties through two-way radio intercepts, said Lt. Gen. Roy Cimatu, the southern military chief.

Cimatu said the rebels were Abu Sayyaf guerrillas and followers of Nur Misuari, the former governor of an autonomous Muslim region in the southern Philippines. Misuari is being detained in Malaysia.  [Complete]

_________________________________________________________________

February 11, 2002, Reuters, Philippine Army Attacks Guerrilla Positions,

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines — Philippine forces bombarded Muslim rebels on a southern island Sunday in retaliation for an ambush of soldiers, killing an unspecified number of guerrillas allegedly linked to Osama bin Laden, the army said.

Army spokesman Major Noel Detoyato said troops fired howitzers at Abu Sayyaf positions on Jolo island after a guerrilla ambush Friday in which six Filipino soldiers were killed.

"There was an undetermined number killed among the Abu Sayyaf," Detoyato said.

The latest fighting between the Philippine army and the rebel group coincided with the arrival of more U.S. troops and equipment in Zamboanga on Mindanao island for joint military exercises.

The United States says Abu Sayyaf is linked with Bin Laden, but the ties are unclear.   [Complete]
______________________________________________________________________

April 27, 2002, Los Angels Times Wire Reports, After 3 Months, Gunmen Free Captive Reporter,

A Philippine television reporter who was kidnapped and whose guides were beheaded as she tried to contact Muslim guerrillas was freed today after more than three months in captivity.

Arlyn de la Cruz smiled and waved to friends and colleagues at Zamboanga city airport after she was brought there from the southern island of Jolo.

"I did not expect I will be able to come back home today," she said. "I couldn't believe it."

De la Cruz was taken hostage in Jolo's interior Jan. 20 by gunmen who beheaded her two guides.

Her captors released her after a senator intervened, De la Cruz said. No ransom was paid.    [Complete]

____________________________________________________________________


August 25, 2002, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, Elite Army Unit Flown In to Help Rescue Hostages,

The Philippine military flew its U.S.-trained counter-terrorism unit to a southern island to help rescue four Jehovah's Witnesses abducted last week by Muslim extremists. The deployment of about 70 members of the Light Reaction Company is part of a larger military buildup on Jolo island aimed at wiping out the Abu Sayyaf group, notorious for beheadings and kidnappings. Commander Lt. Gen.

___________________________________________________________________

October 13, 2002, Associated Press  / Los Angeles Times, Rebels Kill 11 in Clashes With Philippine Troops,
Fierce clashes between Philippine marines and Abu Sayyaf rebels on the southern island of Jolo left at least 11 soldiers dead and 26 others wounded, military officials said Saturday. Government bombers and attack helicopters took turns blasting suspected positions of an Abu Sayyaf faction believed to be holding hostage four Jehovah's Witnesses, all women, the officials added. There were no immediate reports on rebel casualties. The women were abducted Aug.

_____________________________________________________________________

October 14, 2002, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, Troops Seek Guerrillas After Deadly Ambush,

Philippine troops scoured dense jungles in pursuit of Muslim rebels, including one group that nearly wiped out a marine platoon a day earlier. Soldiers backed by helicopters searched the southern island of Jolo after Saturday's ambush, in which 11 marines were killed. Troops also attacked a guerrilla training camp in Lanao del Sur province in the south. At least 20 guerrillas have been killed, officials said.
_____________________________________________________________________


December 8, 2003, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, Guerrilla Commander Arrested, Military Says,

A senior Muslim guerrilla commander suspected of involvement in the 2000 kidnapping of Westerners from a Malaysian resort was captured in a clash with soldiers in the Philippines, the military said. Galib Andang, also known as Commander Robot, was arrested during a gunfight on Jolo island, according to the island's military chief, Col. Alexander Yapching.
_________________________________________________________________________

January 30, 2006, Times Wire Reports, Gunman Kills 10 at Crowded Billiard Hall,

At least 10 people, most of them teenagers, were killed when a gunman opened fired at a packed billiard hall on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. Officials believe the shooting in Balabagan town could be part of a long-running clan war that threatens a fragile truce between the government and Muslim separatist rebels. It followed an attack Saturday that killed 20 people in a crowd leaving a mosque on the southwestern island of Jolo.
_______________________________________________________________________

February 19, 2006, Associated Press  / Los Angeles Times, 1 Killed in Blast Near Philippine Army Camp,

A powerful explosion in a karaoke bar near a Philippine army camp killed one person Saturday and wounded about 20 on Jolo island, where U.S. troops are staying for joint war exercises. Philippine Brig. Gen. Alexander Aleo, the top military officer on Jolo island, today identified the dead man as a driver who was working under contract for U.S. troops.
__________________________________________________________________

January 18, 2007, Los Angeles Times, Philippine militant slain, by Paul Watson and Al Jacinto, Special to The Times,

A militant leader linked to Al Qaeda and wanted in the beheading of a California tourist was killed in a jungle battle, the Philippine army announced Wednesday. The military first reported that it had wounded Jainal Antel Sali Jr., also known as Abu Solaiman, on Tuesday when special forces raided a hide-out of the Abu Sayyaf militant group on Jolo island, about 600 miles south of Manila.
_____________________________________________________________________________


January 19, 2007, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, 10 rebels, 3 troops killed in clash,

Fighting between government forces and Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremists in the southern Philippines left 10 militants and three government troops dead, officials said. A Philippine marines platoon battled about 30 extremists under Abu Sayyaf veteran Radullan Sahiron in Jolo island's Patikul town.
_____________________________________________________________________


February 3, 2007, Los Angeles Times, Philippine rebels claim to hold senior officials hostage, by Al Jacinto, Special to The Times,

Disgruntled Muslim rebels who signed a peace agreement with Manila in 1996 have taken senior military and defense officials hostage on Jolo island, about 600 miles south of the capital, rebel sources said early today. Among those being held by members of the Moro National Liberation Front are Maj. Gen.
_________________________________________________________________________

June 8, 2007, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, U.S. pays reward to informants,

The U.S. handed over its largest reward in the campaign to wipe out Al Qaeda-linked militants in the southern Philippines, giving $10 million to Philippine informants in the killing of two top terrorism suspects. Four masked informants collected on promised $5-million rewards against Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khadafi Abubakar Janjalani, who was slain in a September clash on southern Jolo island, and against his presumed successor, Abu Solaiman, who was killed on Jolo in January. More than 7,000 U.S.-backed Philippine soldiers have been waging an offensive on Jolo since August.
______________________________________________________________________

August 10, 2007, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, 52 killed as rebels clash with soldiers,

Twenty-five soldiers and 27 militants have been killed in clashes on southern island of Jolo, the Philippine military said today. The clashes began Thursday when suspected Abu Sayyaf extremists ambushed a truck carrying troops headed to market, then fought a gun battle with soldiers in pursuit, said Maj. Eugene Batara, spokesman for the military's Western Mindanao Command. Ten more soldiers and an undetermined number of militants were injured, Batara said.
___________________________________________________________________

March 2, 2008, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, Bomb injures soldiers, women,

A bomb wounded two Filipino soldiers and four women at a bar near a southern Philippine military camp where U.S. troops were conducting counter-terrorism training, a Philippine army spokesman said. The blast occurred on Jolo island, which is about 590 miles south of Manila and a stronghold for an Al Qaeda-linked Muslim militant group. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. No Americans were injured.
_________________________________________________________________

March 9, 2008, Los Angeles Times, U.S. role in Philippine raid questioned, by Paul Watson, Times Staff Writer,

In a hut on stilts with paper-thin walls of bamboo strips, an off-duty Philippine soldier was asleep alongside four members of his family when the crackle of assault rifle fire and shudder of grenade blasts awakened them early last month. Within minutes, Cpl. Ibnun Wahid, 35, was dead, along with seven other villagers, including two children, age 4 and 9, two teenagers and two women, one of them pregnant.
________________________________________________________________

August 13, 2008, Los Angeles Times, Battles threaten deal for larger Muslim zone in Philippines, by Al Jacinto and Paul Watson, Special to The Times,

Efforts to revive a landmark peace deal could collapse if renewed fighting between government forces and Muslim rebels spreads in the southern Philippines, the guerrillas warned Tuesday. Skirmishes between Philippine troops and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front continued in the southern region of Mindanao as government forces drove rebels from Christian villages that the guerrillas seized last week. As many as 160,000 people have fled the fighting.
_______________________________________________________________

January 16, 2009, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, World Briefing / The Philippines

An army general said he hoped to rescue three kidnapped Red Cross workers in the southern Philippines. Gunmen on motorcycles intercepted a vehicle carrying the three on their way to the airport on Jolo island, where Abu Sayyaf militants are known to hide. The workers are from Italy, Switzerland and the Philippines. Maj. Gen. Juancho Sabban, head of Jolo's anti-terrorism task force, said their vehicle was found abandoned near the mountain town of Patikul, the scene of many clashes between troops and Abu Sayyaf.
____________________________________________________________________

April 3, 2009, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, World Briefing / The Philippines,

A Red Cross worker freed by Al Qaeda-linked militants after 10 weeks of captivity in a southern Philippine jungle told a government official that the remaining Swiss and Italian hostages were alive, but tired and in danger. The unexpected release of Mary Jean Lacaba and news that her colleagues had not been killed came after the Abu Sayyaf militants threatened to behead one of the hostages Tuesday because Philippine forces refused to withdraw from the surrounding area. Abu Sayyaf gunmen handed over the 37-year-old Filipina in the jungles near Indanan township on Jolo island without any ransom payment, government negotiator Lady Anne Sahidulla said.
_____________________________________________________________

April 18, 2009, Associated Press, Abducted aid worker rescued,

Police in the Philippines rescued a kidnapped Red Cross worker from his Al Qaeda-linked captors early today, officials said, but there was no immediate word on the fate of another hostage. Andreas Notter, 38, of Switzerland was rescued on southern Jolo island, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said, citing "verified reports." Provincial officials also said Notter had been freed by police, not released by his Abu Sayyaf captors as initially reported.
___________________________________________________________________

July 12, 2009, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, World Briefing / Philippines,

Islamic militants in the southern Philippines freed an ailing Italian Red Cross worker after six months of captivity. Eugenio Vagni, 63, had difficulty walking because of a hernia, but otherwise appeared to be in good health as his Abu Sayyaf captors handed him over to a provincial vice governor on Jolo Island. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said no ransom had been paid.
______________________________________________________________________

August 9, 2009, Los Angeles Times, Philippine city lives in constant terror, by John M. Glionna,

Restaurant owner Lyra Quitay is blind in one eye. Her arms, chest and legs bear painful black scars and her right hand is so gnarled that it resembles a claw when she signs her name. In October 2001, a terrorist's bomb ripped through the claustrophobic downtown market where Quitay runs a tiny kitchen, instantly killing her security guard and blowing a hole in her life. The guard had gone to investigate an abandoned duck egg cart; when he opened the lid on a pot, it exploded -- ripping off his head and leaving Quitay with injuries so severe that she still wakes up crying at night.
________________________________________________________________

September 30, 2009, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, World Briefing / The Philippines,

Two American soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb believed to have been planted by Al Qaeda-linked militants, U.S. officials said. They were the first U.S. troops to die in an attack in the Philippines in seven years. A Philippine marine also was killed and two were wounded in the blast on Jolo island, a poor, predominantly Muslim southern region where the Americans have been providing combat training and weapons to government troops battling Abu Sayyaf militants. The Philippine military suspects that the militant group was behind the attack.
_____________________________________________________________________

October 4, 2009, Los Angeles Times, Military deaths,

The Defense Department last week identified the following American military personnel who died in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Philippines: Ryan C. Adams, 26 of Rhinelander, Wis.; sergeant, Army National Guard. Adams was killed Friday when his vehicle was attacked with a rocket-propelled grenade in central Afghanistan's Logar province, south of Kabul. He was assigned to the 91st Engineer Company in Rhinelander, Wis. Jordan L. Chrobot, 24, of Frederick, Md.; lance corporal, Marine Corps.
_________________________________________________________________________

August 21, 2002, Associated Press / Los Angeles Times, 8 Filipinos Kidnapped by Rebels,

PATIKUL, Philippines — Suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels kidnapped eight door-to-door Avon cosmetics salespeople, Philippine officials said today.

Esmon Suhuri, vice mayor of the town of Patikul on Jolo island, said the five women and three men, all Filipinos, were kidnapped Tuesday afternoon. He said the victims were both Christians and Muslims, and he blamed Abu Sayyaf. Jolo is known as an Abu Sayyaf stronghold.

The abductions are the first believed to be linked to Abu Sayyaf since about 1,000 U.S. troops began arriving in the southern Philippines in January to train the army to better combat the guerrilla group.

The exercise ended three weeks ago, although a few Americans are remaining to complete infrastructure projects on nearby Basilan island.

Suhuri said the army was shelling suspected Abu Sayyaf hide-outs around Patikul late Tuesday. The fighting was the first this year in the war-stricken area.

The rebels have often kidnapped for ransom but more frequently have abducted poor Filipinos to serve for weeks or months as slave labor. Many of the slaves have been released, but more than a dozen have been killed in the last year, some beheaded. The group has also kidnapped women to force them to marry guerrillas.

Jolo is about 50 miles southwest of Basilan, where U.S. Green Berets were training the Philippine Special Forces fighting Abu Sayyaf rebels there.

Abu Sayyaf seized 102 hostages, including three Americans, in a yearlong kidnapping rampage that ended in June when U.S.-trained soldiers, helped by American surveillance and communications, tracked down rebels holding the last of those captives: American missionaries Gracia and Martin Burnham and Philippine nurse Deborah Yap. Soldiers rescued Gracia Burnham, but her husband and Yap were killed.   [Complete]  
__________________________________________________________________________


September 17, 2000, Los Angeles Times, 18 Held in Philippine Troop Invasion, by David Lamb, Times Staff Writer,

Asia: The government releases few details in the ongoing offensive against Muslim insurgents. There is no word on the fate of the rebels' 19 captives.

BANGKOK, Thailand — The Philippine army pushed Saturday to the doorstep of a rebel stronghold where 19 hostages were held, including an American and two Frenchmen, in an artillery-backed operation aimed at halting the cycle of violence and kidnappings in the southern Philippines.

There was no word on the fate of the hostages on Jolo island, 600 miles south of Manila.

"They haven't been eyeballed," presidential spokesman Ricardo Puno said early today as the assault continued. "The rebels are clearly moving them from place to place."

Few official details of the operation were released other than the capture of 18 suspected rebels. Phone lines to Jolo were cut. But President Joseph Estrada admitted in a nationwide address that the mission entailed "grave risks" for both the hostages and his own soldiers.

Although the government termed the attack a rescue operation, it had all the appearances of a full-scale invasion--including aerial bombardments, artillery and armored personal carriers--and was clearly designed to destroy the Abu Sayyaf rebels, who taunted the government by releasing hostages for ransom, then kidnapping more to take their place.

"We have to put an end to the cycle," Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado told the Reuters news agency. "It has cost us our national pride. It embarrassed us."

The timing of Saturday morning's attack on Jolo was something of an embarrassment to Washington because Defense Secretary William S. Cohen was in Manila as part of a wider Southeast Asian visit and had expressed hopes that the five-month hostage crisis would be solved diplomatically. He said the U.S. had no role in the invasion.

"I was given a heads-up [that] action was imminent," he told reporters Saturday. "No specific details were communicated to me."

Cohen, however, did not criticize Estrada's decision to move militarily and said it was up to the Philippines to decide whether to use force.

But France expressed "deep anxiety and disagreement" in a statement released by President Jacques Chirac. The two Frenchmen, journalists Jean-Jacques Le Garrec and Roland Madura from France 2 TV, had been scheduled for release Friday until rival Abu Sayyaf factions started bickering over how to divide the ransom.

The American, Jeffrey Schilling, 24, a Muslim convert from Oakland, was seized in late August after wandering into the rebel camp for unexplained reasons with his Philippine wife, Ivi Osani, a cousin of one rebel leader. She was released, but the rebels threatened to behead Schilling if the army attacked.

In addition to Schilling and the French journalists, the Abu Sayyaf--which professes to be fighting for an Islamic state but is generally dismissed as a professional kidnapping ring--is holding 12 Philippine Christian evangelists, three Malaysians and a Filipino, who was seized April 23 with a group of 20 others, 10 of them foreigners, on a Malaysian resort island.

Estrada's decision to use force appeared to have been a result of the Abu Sayyaf's greed.

After releasing the final foreigners--two Finns, a German and a Frenchman--on Sept. 9 from the group kidnapped in April and receiving $4 million in ransom, the rebels returned to Malaysia the next day and snatched three other local workers from another resort island. They were taken to Jolo by speedboat. Negotiations had not yet begun on their ransom, but generally Westerns have fetched $1 million each and Asians about one-third that amount.

"Enough is enough," Estrada said Saturday, staring down the TV camera, in his national address. "It is clear that the efforts of our government toward a peaceful, long-term resolution to the problems are being scoffed at by the Abu Sayyaf group."

All told, the Abu Sayyaf's most recent kidnapping spree has netted the group about $15 million in ransom, $10 million of which was paid by Libya, apparently in a goodwill gesture intended to burnish its international image. Libyan officials denied that the payments represented ransom and said they were to be used for development projects in the predominantly Muslim southern Philippines.

Estrada has been under domestic pressure for weeks to end the Jolo crisis, militarily if necessary. In the past, he has dealt harshly with Islamic separatists, but this time he yielded to international pressure and sought a negotiated settlement to decide the fate of the 21 hostages seized in Malaysia.

When the four foreigners were released Sept. 9, he may have felt constraints were lifted, because the other foreign hostages--Schilling and the two French TV journalists--had gone into Abu Sayyaf territory voluntarily.

On Thursday, one of the Philippines' most influential groups, the Catholic Bishops Conference, which traditionally condemns violence in all forms, said it "would not blame the government if it carried out action." The president's decision to send in the army also seemed to have wide popular support in the Philippines, a mostly Christian nation.

The military on Friday ordered all civilian vessels to leave Jolo harbor in order to clear the way for an invasion. Within 24 hours, it began ferrying in troops backed by helicopters and armor, and planes based at Zamboanga, about 100 miles away on the large island of Mindanao, started bombing the rebels' jungle lair.
_______________________________________________________________________

September 21, 2000, Los Angeles Times, Philippine Muslims Still Waging Age-Old Resistance, by David Lamb, Times Staff Writer,

MANILA — For more than 400 years, the Philippines' predominantly Muslim southern provinces have resisted, at a bloody cost to all concerned, outside domination. No one--not Spanish and U.S. colonialists, Japanese occupiers or the Manila government--has ever been able to fully integrate the area into the broader nation.

Given that history, Philippine President Joseph Estrada's decision to launch a major military assault on Jolo island last week to free 19 hostages and destroy the Abu Sayyaf rebel movement is a high-risk gamble that is unlikely to end fighting in the war-torn region--particularly if he merely declares victory when the hostage drama is over.

"Everyone will tell you there can be no military solution in the south," said Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, a former commander of the armed forces who spent much of his career battling Muslim separatists on the island of Mindanao. "You have to improve the conditions of people who feel they are have-nots, and that entails political and economic solutions."

After two French hostages escaped their captors and were rescued by troops early Wednesday, Estrada said he would call off the offensive if the other hostages were released. Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic group, made no formal reply and continued its flight into the jungles with its captives, including Oakland resident Jeffrey Schilling.

In a radio interview broadcast today, Schilling said: "I'm fine. I'm well." He appealed to the Philippine government to halt its military assault so that negotiations can resume. The interview, conducted by satellite phone, was the first confirmation that Schilling was still alive.

For the 400,000 residents of Jolo island, being in a war zone is hardly a new experience. The seaside town of Jolo was twice razed by Spanish armadas, and the current war in the south has dragged on at various levels of intensity for about three decades, claiming more than 120,000 lives.

Estrada has shown no tolerance for the separatists' aspirations--"Independence only over my dead body," he says--but he has paid more attention and delivered more economic development to the southern provinces, where most of the nation's 5 million Muslims live, than any other recent president. But the region remains the Philippines' poorest, at least in part because of the continuing warfare.

Spain gave up trying to convert the provinces to Christianity during three centuries of colonial rule. At the beginning of the 20th century, the U.S. had no better luck getting the Moros, as Muslims are called here, to acquiesce to foreign authority.

"The enemy numbered 600, including women and children," Mark Twain wrote of a 1905 battle on Mindanao, "and we [Americans] abolished them utterly, leaving not even a baby to cry for his dead mother."

U.S. soldiers at the time found that their small-bore guns were ineffective against Muslim warriors who charged with their bodies wrapped in rattan strips--a primitive and far-from-perfect version of the bulletproof vest. To counter such attacks, the Americans eventually introduced a more powerful, .45-caliber pistol.

After a period of relative calm following World War II, Islamic strife flared again in Sulu province, where Jolo and scores of other islands and islets are located, and in the rest of the far south when President Ferdinand E. Marcos declared martial law in 1972 and ordered all citizens to turn in their weapons. Feeling threatened, the Moro National Liberation Front, or MNLF, began attacks against the armed forces and eventually grew into a force of thousands before signing a treaty with the government in 1996.

Abu Sayyaf, or "Father of the Sword," was founded in 1991 as a spinoff of the MNLF, with the announced intention of fighting for a "pure" Islamic state. But financed by kidnappings--including $15 million in ransom for the release of 20 hostages over the past three months--and tarnished by human rights violations, it degenerated into what is widely regarded as a band of criminals.

"The Abu Sayyaf rebels are simply lawless elements," Eid Kabalu, a spokesman for another militant Muslim group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, or MILF, said this week. "They are giving Islam a bad name."

In May, the army overran the stronghold of an Abu Sayyaf faction on Basilan island, causing the guerrillas to link up with the group's mainstream elements on nearby Jolo island. Soldiers also threw the MILF into disarray by capturing its rebel camps on Mindanao.

The offensives, and the current one on Jolo, seriously disrupted the Islamic rebels' military capabilities but have by no means ended the south's long history of bloodshed.
__________________________________________________________________________

January 18, 2007, Los Angeles Times, Philippine militant slain, by Paul Watson and Al Jacinto, Special to The Times,

Jainal Antel Sali Jr., a leader of Abu Sayyaf, was linked to Al Qaeda and had been sought in a Californian's killing.

JOLO ISLAND, PHILIPPINES — A militant leader linked to Al Qaeda and wanted in the beheading of a California tourist was killed in a jungle battle, the Philippine army announced Wednesday.

The military first reported that it had wounded Jainal Antel Sali Jr., also known as Abu Solaiman, on Tuesday when special forces raided a hide-out of the Abu Sayyaf militant group on Jolo island, about 600 miles south of Manila.

But Sali, also wanted in the kidnapping of two American missionaries, was later confirmed dead at a news conference in Manila, where the chief of the armed forces, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, showed photographs of the corpse.

"We have resolved that this group and their major commanders must be finished off, that this notorious group should see its end," the general said.

Sali was buried Wednesday on Jolo island after relatives and friends identified the body. He had the hole of a soldier's bullet in his chest and a piece of wood, about an inch long, embedded in his left cheek. It was pulled out by two imams hired by the military to clean and bury the corpse in accordance with Muslim custom.

"It was him, all right. It was Abu Solaiman," said Karim Muktar, a Muslim rebel turned government soldier. "His time finally has come, and it's the end of the road for Solaiman."

Sali, a 42-year-old native of Zamboanga who was a civil engineer, commanded an Abu Sayyaf unit known as the urban terrorist group, blamed for a series of bombings in the southern Philippines. He was also an Abu Sayyaf spokesman.

Philippine officials linked Sali to a February 2004 bombing on a ferry, which triggered a fire that killed 116 people.

Wanted by the FBI

Sali was on the FBI's list of most wanted terrorists, and the U.S. State Department had offered a reward of up to $5 million for his capture. He was indicted by a U.S. court in 2002 on charges including the murder of an American outside the U.S. and kidnapping resulting in death, the FBI said. Guillermo Sobero, 40, of Corona, Calif., was beheaded after he was kidnapped in May 2001 with American missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham, of Wichita, Kan., and 17 Filipinos at an island resort in the southern Philippines.

Sobero's torso was found months after his abduction. Abu Sayyaf, which says it is fighting to establish Islamic rule in the region, said it had executed him.

The Burnhams and other hostages were held for more than a year, during which they were constantly on the move in forced marches through the jungle. Martin Burnham was killed in June 2002 when Philippine commandos launched a rescue mission. Gracia Burnham was wounded in the leg but survived. A Philippine nurse also died, as did several soldiers and guerrillas.

Gracia Burnham released a statement Wednesday after the death of Sali.

"Based on the six months I had close contact with Solaiman during our year of captivity, I would say he was the most dangerous of the Abu Sayyaf leaders because he was filled with hate," the Associated Press reported her saying in the statement.

"Martin and Solaiman had long talks about their beliefs and beliefs in general while we were in the jungle, so today my heart is filled with sadness for Solaiman because his next step is to face almighty God to be judged."

In early 2002, President Bush sent hundreds of American troops, including Special Forces, to advise and train Philippine soldiers battling militants in the south.

The U.S. forces were restricted to noncombat roles and are permitted to fire only in self-defense.

The battle that led to Sali's death raged for more than three hours Tuesday as Philippine troops clashed with about 60 Abu Sayyaf fighters at a hide-out on Mt. Daho, army Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro said as the operation was underway. Two Philippine soldiers were wounded.

Plenty of cover

Mt. Daho is an active volcano whose thick canopy of trees and countless crevices provide excellent cover for guerrillas.

Bacarro said Philippine forces had found at least 17 bunkers, camouflaged by large trees, at the guerrillas' camp. Troops also recovered assorted materials used for making crude bombs, including blasting caps.

On Wednesday, the Philippine military sent troops to join the hundreds of soldiers on Jolo who launched an offensive against Abu Sayyaf guerrillas in August.

An air force C-130 cargo plane transported soldiers and weapons, including rockets, that were delivered in a convoy of trucks and armored vehicles to an army base in the town of Jolo, where U.S. troops are stationed.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to visit Jolo to inspect U.S. troops before the start of joint anti-terrorism exercises with Philippine forces next month, a Philippine government source said.

paul.watson@latimes.com

Times staff writer Watson reported from Jakarta, Indonesia, and special correspondent Jacinto from Jolo island.
_______________________________________________________________________

February 3, 2007, Los Angeles Times, Philippine rebels claim to hold senior officials hostage, by Al Jacinto, Special to The Times,

A commander denies the report from Muslim group in the south.

ZAMBOANGA CITY, PHILIPPINES — Disgruntled Muslim rebels who signed a peace agreement with Manila in 1996 have taken senior military and defense officials hostage on Jolo island, about 600 miles south of the capital, rebel sources said early today.

Among those being held by members of the Moro National Liberation Front are Maj. Gen. Ben Dolorfino of the Philippine marines, Defense Undersecretary Ramon Santos, several army colonels, and a number of soldiers and staff members of presidential peace advisor Jesus Dureza, rebel sources said.

They were being held at a jungle base in Bitan-ag village near Panamao town, a stronghold of the MNLF on Jolo. Sources said the government was trying to negotiate the release of the hostages, who reportedly are being held by hundreds of rebels led by Habier Malik and Khaid Ajibun.

Dolorfino's group flew to Jolo on Friday morning for a meeting with MNLF leaders and were taken captive later in the day, sources said.

Southern Philippines military commander Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo denied the report, but Dureza confirmed that Dolorfino's group had flown to the island and was in Bitan-ag.

Nur Misuari, chieftain of the MNLF, signed a peace deal with Manila in 1996, ending more than 20 years of fighting in the southern Philippines. Misuari became the governor of five southern Muslim provinces granted autonomy by the government.

In 2006, more than 1,400 disgruntled MNLF members threatened to abandon the peace deal, accusing the government of reneging on parts of it.

Many former rebels contend the government failed to comply with some of the accord's provisions and improve their standard of living. They accused the government of failing to develop the war-torn areas in the south, which remain mired in poverty, heavily militarized and financially dependent on Manila.

Some of the former rebels have joined either the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, now the country's largest separatist rebel group, or the smaller Abu Sayyaf.

The reported hostage-taking comes amid renewed attacks by the MILF. Those rebels are in peace talks with the government, but despite a truce signed in 2001, sporadic clashes continue in many areas.

On Friday, Philippine authorities blamed the militants for killing three people, including a soldier kidnapped in the south.
_______________________________________________________________________

March 9, 2008, Los Angeles Times, U.S. role in Philippine raid questioned, by Paul Watson, Times Staff Writer,

Philippine general says Americans helped guide troops in hunt for militants, but eight villagers were slain.

IPIL, PHILIPPINES — In a hut on stilts with paper-thin walls of bamboo strips, an off-duty Philippine soldier was asleep alongside four members of his family when the crackle of assault rifle fire and shudder of grenade blasts awakened them early last month.

Within minutes, Cpl. Ibnun Wahid, 35, was dead, along with seven other villagers, including two children, age 4 and 9, two teenagers and two women, one of them pregnant. All were shot at close range, witnesses said in interviews and sworn affidavits gathered by the provincial governor's staff to support expected criminal charges.

Like many on Sulu island, provincial Gov. Abdusakur Tan believes the dead were victims of coldblooded killings by government troops. The independent Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines has called for charges to be filed against troops and officers involved in gathering intelligence for and planning the operation, as well those directly responsible for the deaths.

Gen. Ruben Rafael, commander of Philippine troops on the island, also known as Jolo, said in an interview that a U.S. military spy plane circling high above this seaside village provided the intelligence that led to the Feb. 4 assault. He said the crew of the P-3 Orion turboprop, loaded with a sophisticated array of surveillance equipment, pinpointed the village as a stronghold and arms depot for the radical Islamist Abu Sayyaf movement. Government soldiers were ambushed in the area in August, Rafael said.

"The intelligence was very excellent because they have identified the houses, the men with the guns and all the armed men who were occupying these houses," the general said. Rafael said the U.S. military also warned his troops during a firefight that dozens of militants were approaching to counterattack -- information he said was also gathered from the spy plane.

"Because of that, we had to fly our choppers and they were able to prevent these people from reinforcing" insurgents already in the village, the general said. "So that was very crucial support given to us by the U.S."

Maj. Eric Walker, commander of U.S. forces on the island, declined an interview request, and the U.S. military spokesman for the region referred questions to the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

Without specifically confirming any flights over Ipil, U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Karen Schinnerer said that "an aerial reconnaissance vehicle" gathered intelligence over Sulu "at the request of, and in coordination with," Philippine forces.

No witnesses have said there were U.S. forces on the ground when the killings occurred, and Schinnerer said that none were. She also said that intelligence gathering does not violate a prohibition against U.S. forces engaging in combat here.

The human rights commission report recommending criminal and administrative proceedings against troops and officers involved in the operation was written before a Times reporter informed the panel of Rafael's account of U.S. surveillance. The commission gets its mandate from the Philippine Constitution.

Asked whether the U.S. military would assist Philippine authorities in any prosecution arising from the assault, Schinnerer said, "It would be inappropriate to speculate on what remains a hypothetical situation." But, she added, "as a general rule, the U.S. would provide such support to the [Philippine government] if asked."

Under the Philippine Constitution, the hundreds of U.S. military advisors in the southern Philippines are not allowed to engage in combat while helping train local forces in the hunt for militants with Abu Sayyaf and the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiah. Both groups are allied with Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network.

The guerrilla force that Rafael said the Orion spotted would have been unusually large for Sulu. No insurgents were captured, wounded or killed approaching the village, according to the military's accounts. A small arms cache, including a .45-caliber handgun, an M-16 assault rifle and some rifle grenades were seized in the raid, Rafael said.

Two soldiers were killed and five wounded in the Ipil operation, statistics the army cites as proof of a battle with militants. Villagers contend that the soldiers were killed in their own crossfire. Commission investigators found that was a possibility, but suggested Wahid may have opened fire on the troops as they swarmed around his house.

The Philippine military said an internal investigation had cleared its troops of any wrongdoing, which many here see as a whitewash.

While condemning the findings, attorney Jose Manuel Mamauag, regional director of the Commission on Human Rights, said he was glad the military had issued its conclusions, allowing the commission to take the next step.

"Definitely, we will file charges against the soldiers," Mamauag said.

Sulu Gov. Tan, taking a rare stand against the powerful military, has directed provincial officials and police to build a separate criminal case against as yet unidentified soldiers and commanders involved in the Ipil assault.

Counterinsurgency missions on Sulu have been held up as a model in the battle against militants because a combination of aid programs and military force has brought relative peace to the island. But insurgents are staging a comeback, and clashes have escalated over the last year.

With kidnappings and decapitations fairly common, tourists rarely risk coming anymore. Yet anger and suspicion toward Philippine forces and U.S. advisors also run deep here, even though, Rafael said, U.S. aid for projects including new schools, roads and drainage is expected to total more than $12 million over the next 18 months.

Ipil is a small village on Sulu's southern shore, accessible only by water. Most of its people earn a meager living farming seaweed that yields agar, used as a laxative as well as a gelatin substitute and thickener for soups, desserts and pharmaceuticals.

The Philippine military says a dense network of seaside mangroves here are prime Abu Sayyaf turf and that the assault, which included U.S.-trained Special Forces, was an effort to rout them. Since the troops didn't identify themselves, Wahid, a former rebel who joined the army as part of a 1996 peace pact, feared they were bandits or insurgents, relatives said.

He drew his licensed .45-caliber handgun from its holster and went out on the rickety bamboo porch, ready to defend his family, which insists he did not fire it. When he saw fellow soldiers, he put the gun down, raised his hands and shouted, "Papa Alpha, Papa Alpha," signaling he was in the Philippine army, said his wife, Rawina Lahim Wahid, 24.

Within minutes, Wahid, his wife and parents, and 9-year-old nephew, Nurjimer Lahim, were ordered to lie face-down on the white sand, according to his widow and parents, Udam Lahim, 70, and Andiyang Lahing, 65.

Soldiers tied Wahid's hands behind his back. Then one leveled an assault rifle at his head, and pulled the trigger, his widow said. The weapon jammed. The soldier recocked the M-16 and fired a bullet into Wahid's head, said family members, who were later released.

On the other side of the small, southern Philippine village, 17 members of three families were fleeing the gunfire in a long canoe. They headed straight toward a blocking unit of Philippine soldiers on the edge of a thick mangrove swamp.

From a few yards away, the soldiers opened fire, and kept shooting, ignoring the screaming villagers' pleas, witnesses said.

"It was not an accident," said Saida Failan, 21, whose 4-year-old daughter, Marisa, was shot dead. "We were shouting, 'Stop firing, we are civilians!' and children were crying."

When the shooting stopped, six people in the boat were dead. Villagers also found the body of a local councilor, Eldisim Lahim, shot dead outside his home.

Soon after sunrise, Philippine troops prepared to move the bodies by boat, but Rawina Wahid refused to let them take her husband's corpse without her. "I was afraid they were going to throw him in the ocean, so there would be no evidence," she said.

She said she joined them and was taken to a naval vessel offshore, which she was unable to identify. Rafael said it was a Philippine military "support ship."

As she stepped onto the boat, she said, she saw four foreign men in American camouflage fatigues, each armed with an assault rifle, standing next to a second deck railing.

"They were smiling," she said. "They were happy."

She said she had no way of knowing what the men, who she assumed were Americans, were doing on the ship, or whether they were aware of the horrors she and her neighbors had suffered.

"That's not important, as long as justice is done," she said.
_________________________________________________________________________

January 16, 2009, Los Angeles Times Wire Reports, World Briefing / The Philippines, Three Red Cross workers abducted,

An army general said he hoped to rescue three kidnapped Red Cross workers in the southern Philippines.

Gunmen on motorcycles intercepted a vehicle carrying the three on their way to the airport on Jolo island, where Abu Sayyaf militants are known to hide. The workers are from Italy, Switzerland and the Philippines.Maj. Gen. Juancho Sabban, head of Jolo's anti-terrorism task force, said their vehicle was found abandoned near the mountain town of Patikul, the scene of many clashes between troops and Abu Sayyaf.
__________________________________________________________________________

April 18, 2009, Associated Press, Abducted aid worker rescued,

Police in the Philippines rescued a kidnapped Red Cross worker from his Al Qaeda-linked captors...

MANILA — Police in the Philippines rescued a kidnapped Red Cross worker from his Al Qaeda-linked captors early today, officials said, but there was no immediate word on the fate of another hostage.

Andreas Notter, 38, of Switzerland was rescued on southern Jolo island, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said, citing "verified reports."

Provincial officials also said Notter had been freed by police, not released by his Abu Sayyaf captors as initially reported.

A military spokesman had said that Notter was released by the Abu Sayyaf militants partly because of "pressure" from government forces.

There was no immediate word on 62-year-old Eugenio Vagni of Italy. Philippine volunteer Mary Jean Lacaba was released by the Abu Sayyaf two weeks ago.

Sulu provincial police chief Julasirim Kasim said Notter was rescued as the militants holding him tried to break through a security cordon around an area believed to be a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf. He refused to give other details of the operation.

Notter was immediately taken to the residence of Sulu provincial Gov. Sakur Tan, where he was undergoing a medical checkup, Kasim said.

"This is a major breakthrough that we hope shall eventually lead to the rescue of the last remaining hostage," Remonde said.

He attributed Notter's rescue to the "combined initiatives in all fronts," including the intercession of several Muslim clerics.

The three workers were abducted Jan. 15 after inspecting a Red Cross water sanitation project in Jolo.

The militants threatened last month to behead the hostages, prompting a partial pullback of a security cordon around their jungle stronghold.

The Abu Sayyaf, which has about 400 fighters, has been blamed for numerous kidnappings, bombings and beheadings. It is believed to have received funds from Al Qaeda and is on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations.
_______________________________________________________________________


August 9, 2009, Los Angeles Times, Philippine city lives in constant terror, by John M. Glionna,

Zamboanga City is on the front lines of the Philippines' fight against terrorists, located in the troubled south where Muslim militants have been battling troops and hitting civilian targets.

ZAMBOANGA CITY, PHILIPPINES — Restaurant owner Lyra Quitay is blind in one eye. Her arms, chest and legs bear painful black scars and her right hand is so gnarled that it resembles a claw when she signs her name.

In October 2001, a terrorist's bomb ripped through the claustrophobic downtown market where Quitay runs a tiny kitchen, instantly killing her security guard and blowing a hole in her life.

The guard had gone to investigate an abandoned duck egg cart; when he opened the lid on a pot, it exploded -- ripping off his head and leaving Quitay with injuries so severe that she still wakes up crying at night.

"Every time I even hear the word 'bomb' I get nervous," said Quitay, 43. "It's the trauma of living in Zamboanga City."

On the front lines of the Philippines' campaign against terrorism, this bustling port city on the island of Mindanao has become an armed camp, a community under siege.

At the heart of the violence is a network of Islamic terrorist groups waging war against the government of the predominantly Christian Philippine archipelago, using the jungle as cover to train recruits and organize strikes at will.

Moving through the dense terrain like phantoms in the mist, the outmanned but highly mobile Muslim rebel armies have staged repeated disappearing acts that often baffle Philippine government forces.

Just when authorities think the insurgents are on the run, they resurface to detonate a bomb, abduct a hostage or conduct a public execution, leaving Zamboanga City's 700,000 residents continually on edge.

From 2002 to 2007, the latest period for which statistics are available, hundreds of attacks killed 500 people and injured 2,000 in the southern islands of Mindanao, Jolo, Basilan and Tawi Tawi.

Scores of bombs have gone off in Zamboanga, this self-named "City of Flowers," about 460 miles south of Manila. Just as many have been discovered and defused.

Pedestrians here can stand on a downtown street corner and point to half a dozen bomb sites: a cinema, a mall, churches, department stores and a barbecue supply store.

Sometimes, the killings come on successive days -- random killings, car and motorcycle bombs -- forcing residents to avoid congregating in groups or, for the most fearful, venturing out at all.

Of Mindanao's 20 million residents, most are Roman Catholic and about 4 million are Muslim. Among the poorest and least educated residents of the Philippines, the Muslims are ripe for recruitment by rebel forces.

In a 2008 report on terrorism, the U.S. State Department says the rebel groups are extremely difficult to monitor.

"The government's control in this area is weak due to rugged terrain, weak rule of law, poverty and local Muslim minority resentment of central governmental policies," it concludes.

Local officials estimate that the rebels total 20,000, about one-tenth the number of government forces they face, but say the rebels also claim tens of thousands of sympathizers.

For years, the guerrilla movement was dominated by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which seeks the return of the southernmost islands to Muslim control.

In more recent times, another Islamist faction has added to the body count. Abu Sayyaf, which translates as "father of the sword bearer," smuggles weapons and pirates fishing boats on the troubled Sulu Sea. Its members -- who reportedly are linked to Al Qaeda and a regional terrorist group, Jemaah Islamiah -- are allegedly harboring the militants responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 200 people.

Abu Sayyaf has also carried out kidnappings, collecting ransoms to finance attacks in the region, possibly including the recent hotel bombings in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, that killed nine, authorities say.

"The possibility exists that these acts are connected," said Rear Adm. Alexander Pama, commander of the Philippine naval forces in Western Mindanao.

"It would be folly to assume otherwise."

The killings have turned Zamboanga City into a no-man's land. Outsiders rarely venture to these violent southern islands; the U.S. Embassy warns citizens to avoid them.

In an effort to promote calm, the city has formed an anti-terrorism task force and tourists can request armed guards for their stay.

Billboards advertising cultural events are interspersed with posters offering rewards for suspected terrorists.

The rich hire their own private armies, but most residents stake their safety on skittish local police officers and the Philippine National Police, who patrol in armored personnel carriers, their rifles pointed toward the street.

Officers patrol many city blocks on foot. Storefront businesses post private guards gripping rifles, ammunition belts slung over their shoulders.

At the Puericulture Center, where Quitay was wounded, 22-year-old security guard Ariel Elijah gazed out through Puma sunglasses and proclaimed that the market was safe, at least on his watch.

"Those guys won't be able to bomb this place again," he said. "We're very strict now. I look people directly in the eyes, to see if they're scared or nervous. No bomber is going to get past me."

Others aren't so sure. Zamboanga City policeman Eleazar Padua stood outside a Catholic church on La Purisima Street that was bombed last year. Inside, where walls still bear shrapnel scars, a woman crossed herself with holy water as she entered.

"In this town, a bomb can go off any day," said Padua, 27, whose uniform bears a patch reading "Zamboanga City's Finest."

Sometimes he doesn't feel so fine, just scared. His mother worries each time he leaves for his 12-hour shift.

At a nearby mall, armed security men frisked shoppers next to a sign that reads "Please Deposit Your Firearms Here."

Student Ju-ed Alvarez said the guards single out Muslims, who make up one-fourth of Zamboanga City's population. "They know I'm just a student but they treat me like I was a terrorist," he said.

Alvarez, 15, said Christian business owners discriminate against Muslims. "You cannot get work here," he said. "And the bombings don't make it any easier."

Out on the nearby Sulu Sea, Pama, the naval commander, said he has his hands full. "The poor and ignorant," he said, "are fertile ground for recruitment by extremists and jihadists."

The Philippine navy, often supported by U.S. special forces, tries to stem the flow of arms and explosives from neighboring Indonesia and Malaysia with regular sea patrols.

On a recent day, the 100-foot navy gunboat Nicholas Mahusay left port on patrol, escorted by two board-and-search boats and two rigid-hull inflatable boats with a dozen Philippine navy SEALs.

Miles away in Zamboanga City, Lyra Quitay struggles with her dizziness and constant pain.

"Every night I pray that there won't be another bombing, that this city can live in peace," she said.

"But I don't think God is listening."

________________________________________________________________________

September 26, 2000, Associated Press / Los Angeles Times, Villagers Flee as Assault on Philippine Rebels Continues,

JOLO, Philippines — More than 36,000 villagers have fled their homes to escape a military assault on Muslim rebels holding 17 hostages on a southern Philippine island, officials said Monday.

Military officials said troops were still searching for the hostages, who were taken deep into the jungles of Jolo island by the separatist Abu Sayyaf rebels after the assault began Sept. 16. Officials gave no indication of when the offensive would end.

Unconfirmed reports continued to grow of civilian casualties and heavy damage to villages from the attack, which involved 4,000 troops. But the military insisted that only two civilians had been killed and four injured.

Independent verification was not possible because the military has blocked access to many areas of Jolo island and has tried to prevent journalists from traveling there.

For the first time Monday, the military escorted a group of 37 journalists for a brief, tightly controlled tour of Jolo, which is the island's capital, and an evacuation center, and then took them back to Zamboanga, on nearby Mindanao island.

Brig. Gen. Narciso Abaya, the commanding officer who initially predicted that the assault would be over in six days, said the military is no longer estimating how long it will take to save the hostages.

"Before you can rescue them, you have to find them," he said. "This is a very difficult mission. [The rebels] just keep on running. They don't fight us."

Abaya acknowledged that the military still has little information about the location of three Malaysians kidnapped Sept. 10 from a Malaysian resort and brought to Jolo island by boat.

The Abu Sayyaf rebels also are holding an American and 13 Philippine citizens.

Local officials have said that troops were nearing the rebel faction holding American Jeffrey Schilling in eastern Jolo island, but Abaya refused to comment. Schilling, of Oakland, was abducted Aug. 28 when he visited a rebel camp with his Philippine wife, who is related to a rebel leader.

Abaya said that some soldiers were pursuing the rebels on another island, but he refused to elaborate. There have been unconfirmed reports that some Abu Sayyaf rebels were able to escape to nearby Basilan island.

Most of the 36,313 evacuees were staying with relatives or friends, and less than one-third were in overcrowded evacuation centers, military officials said.

Cannons in the village of Pasil bombarded Mt. Tumantangis, where rebel leader Ghalib Andang, who calls himself Commander Robot, is reported to have fled with his followers, Col. Romeo Tolentino said.

_______________________________________________________________________

No comments: