Posts filed under ‘Jemaah Islamiah’

Houston’s Mindanao car theft connection – mikeinmanila.com

Houston you’ve got a problem: Hot cars, bikes, seized in Mindanao

Cars allegedly among those seized in major US Philipine Anti-GTA operation in Cagayan de Oro.

In what US and Philippine authorities are calling, “One of the most successful joint operations,” versus stolen cars from the USA to Asia; 25 cars and 18 Super-bikes are now in the custody of the Philippine National Police. In total; the National Bureau of Investigation agent in charge for northern Mindanao told a local newspaper in Cagayan de Oro, while Police in Davao City are also looking into if any of the cars or bikes had reached the largest city in Mindanao.

May 9, 2011 at 6:31 pm Leave a comment

California Connection: JI militants Dulmatin, Omar Patek and Zulkifli bin Hir

While the Philippine Military has it’s assistance from US, Australian, and, UK sources in its fight versus al qaeda backed bandits of the Abu Sayyaf and the SE Asia franchise of the terror group Jemaah Islamiyah- a California connection has come forward.
Or so say Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Scott N. Schools, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California; Joseph Billy, Jr., FBI Assistant Director for Counterterrorism; and Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).-in a case filed before a US citizen of Philippine and Malaysian descent and his Terror leader brother and belived leader of Jemaah Islamiah Mantiki 3 that is reportedly responsible for the recent attacks in Basilan and Jolo.that among other things involved the beheading and dismemberment of 10 Philippine marines last july 10th, 2007.

The US connection and aid flow was uncovered this week in a Federal district court of Northern California with the indictment of Zulkifli bin Hir and the arrest of his brother in the San Jose, California – who is accused and charged with providing materail support to terrorism. In a copy of the indicment posted online – details of which are marked sealed by the court – the indictment goes into specific acts that anyone who closely follows or as I reports on the fighting, War, and, acts of terrorism – is a blow by blow inside look into how JI members exist – specifics include raids, deaths, equipment shipments, orders of things like gun parts -  transmitters and radio scanners -it speaks also on the effectiveness of drones and P3 orion aircraft.  Chilling and if corelated to events on dates – reads like a diary of one Ji terrorist and his brother’s part in the Jihad in Mindanao – both of whom are Malaysian – of how they track news using popular philippine websites – for all i know even this blog!

[]…” Rahmat Abdhir, aka “Sean Kasem,” aka “Sean Kalimin,” age 43, is a U.S. citizen living in San Jose, Calif., and the brother of Zulkifli Abdhir. Rahmat Abdhir is charged in the indictment with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, providing material to terrorists, contributing goods and services to a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (his brother), and false statements. FBI agents arrested Rahmat Abdhir yesterday morning outside his place of employment in Sunnyvale, Calif. He made his initial appearance yesterday in federal court in San Jose. …” []

In the August 2nd – 16 count indictment- before the courts -Rahmat Abdhir, 43, aka “Sean Kasem,” aka. is accused of proiving support and also reports say had a weapons cashe that may indicate a Bay Area cell of the Abu Sayyaf or at least a support base for one exists in California.

Terror suspect kept guns in home, storage
San Jose Mercury News, USA - Assistant US Attorney John T. Gibbs argued in a federal court in San Jose that the 43-year-old bespectacled married father of four was far too dangerous to

South Bay Man Arrested For Al Qaeda Ties
abc7news.com, CA - Rahmat Abdhir has lived on Sunwood Drive in San Jose since 2003. The FBI raided his house yesterday. Rahmat’s younger brother is Zulkifli Abdhir,

It is believed the arrest and information gathered after it helped not only put a stop to at least one flow of technology, weapons, and, financial support but also had a hand in stopping a bomb plot versus malls in Metro Manila.

PNP thwarts plans to bomb NCR shopping malls and food terminals
Philippine Information Agency, Philippines - Text messages from the suspect’s cellphone coming from JI operative Zulkifli Bin Hir, alias Marwan; and Basit Usman, who is said to be a leader of the Moro

06 – PNP foils bomb plots in metro shopping malls
Balita.org, UK - Rosales said they saw text messages from Usman’s cellphone, recovered at his safe house, coming from JI operative Zulkifli Bin Hir, alias Marwan; .

MILF ties bared in Indictment: E-mails speak of protection provided to J.I.

In the wake of recent fighting in the South the indicment also says that the MILF or at leasst factions or elements of the MILF in Western Mindanao provide aid and comfort to JI fugitives:

[]…” Zulkifli Abdhir kept his brother in the U.S. informed of his situation on the ground in the Philippines by providing reports of battles between Philippine troops and his protectors there, including elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In one instance, Zulkifli Abdhir described an effort by Philippine government troops to capture him on Aug. 10, 2006 in which commandos surrounded his house and a gun battle ensued. Zulkifli Abdhir also described numerous battles and conflicts with Philippine government troops after a ceasefire between MILF and the Philippine government ended on Sept. 30, 2006. …”[] http://sanfrancisco.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/2007/sf080207.htm

The press release goes into details of the indicment and information is is readily available on the Web. There is a small mostly sympathetic support group among some Moro Fil-Am’s in the USA for the rebels in Mindanao but most are involved in suppoorting peace talks and efforts to end the fighting in Mindanao.

Yet as this case shows there are also some who do support violence or so it seems by the actions mentioned in the indicment.

[] “… According to the indictment, Rahmat Abdhir shipped requested items to his brother in the Philippines using various aliases for the sender and the recipient. Between June 2006 and June 2007, Rahmat Abdhir allegedly shipped nearly 30 hand-held or two-way radios, as well as Colt .45 magazines, binoculars, a rifle scope and firearms manual, flashlights, batteries, and camouflage clothing to his brother. The indictment also alleges Zulkifli Abdhir routinely informed Rahmat Abdhir when he needed money sent or wired to the Philippines for purchases of items including firearms and ammunition. Rahmat Abdhir transferred the requested money to Zulkifli Abdhir through bank accounts that his brother provided in the Philippines, varying the times and amounts of money sent, and using false names and addresses. Between June 2006 and June 2007, Rahmat Abdhir allegedly sent more than $10,000 to his brother….”[]

But th arrest raises fear in the San Francisco Bay Area – in particular for those of Asian American descent many of whom suffered after 9-11 because of life history in areas of conflict in the southern Philippines some of whom are trying to remind others that the accused in the indictment is the exception to the rule – Filipino Americans for example make up the largest number of volunteers and largest single minority group serving in the US military and federal authorities in the War on Terrorism.

Another fear raised is the location of the arrests – this is Silicon Vally – the man lived in San Jose – worked in Sunnyvale – this is home to the US technology industry and also a center of possible areas of soft targets including the main telecommunications hubs of the internet and telecoms and computer industry. He worked at a company known as Applied Identity – revealed a federal detention hearing for Rahmat Abdhir. Assistant U.S. Attorney John T. Gibbs was also that Abdhir – worked for a Silicon Valley based company that provided ‘security’ to servers, resources, and, database and information systems all over the world. Among its listed clients are firms and government

While it may come as shock to those in the USA – the profile is typical of Al Qaeda ‘s Jemaah Islamiah supporters and groups in SE Asia – where Malaysians , Indonesians, and Singaporeans are concerned in that the members caught are mostly well educated, Computer and tech savvy, and also – very much involved in computers and systems management.

[] “… Applied Identity’s customers are organizations with more than 200 users. Initial vertical market focus includes financial services, health care and government.

The company’s ID-Unify and ID-Enforce appliance-based solutions enable organizations to enforce identity-based privileges, consolidate access policy development and provide user network activity data for risk management forensics and compliance. The company’s solutions integrate into networks, leveraging and extending existing identity and security infrastructures. “…[]

From Company mission and profile

[]…” Applied Identity provides the only identity-driven network access management solution with the flexibility to manage consistent trusted access to network
www.appliedidentity.com/ – 14k – CachedSimilar pagesNote this
Contact Ushttp://www.appliedidentity.com/company/contact-us.shtml
Productshttp://www.appliedidentity.com/products/
Companyhttp://www.appliedidentity.com/company/
Solutions: Network Security Controlhttp://www.appliedidentity.com/solutions/ …”[]

Ironically the Bay Area and Silicon Valley are also home of the largest groups of Anti-War and US Anti-establishment movements the possibility that there in this part of the USA terror ‘cells’ or ‘support groups’ exist is something many in the federal government’s intelligence community feel is a likelihood – or so they have said in prior interviews and stories I have done on SE Asian terror gangs linked to Al Qaeda.

They point out that while Bay Area residents where among the first victims of 9-11 to fight back – I.E. United Flight 93 was bound for San Francisco – where passengers fought hijackers that led to the palne crashing into a field rather than a Washington area building.

Prior to 9-11 California based support groups also existed for groups like the Abu Sayyaf in places like Oakland and Berkley and the South Bay Area. I remember working on stories on this topic – but most of it was lost in the mix post 9-11 and other sotires took to the forefront of the news.

I always wondered why so much effort was made to freeze assets and accounts of Al Qaeda members linked to the Abu Sayyaf and was told because bank accounts in the USA were found for some ASG members and their families – also ransom funds – in some cases – reports said actual bills from ransoms paid in the ASG kidnaping spree traced via serial numbers of bills – ended up in circulation in the California and Nevada areas.

Considering the amount of cash spread out in just the Sipadan kidnapping – $20 million dollars in cash -It is most likely that the money made its way there via – US bound Fil-ams who bought bills in Mindanao – or the alleged ‘cut’ or commissions of officials who allegedly profited by provided ‘bulk exchange’ to Pesos to ASG members or middlemen.

As early as 2000-2001 investigation prior to 9-11 showed of support groups and organizations who at least on the internet provide some form of propaganda assistance to groups like the ASG and other Philippine based -terrorist designated groups – but – considering free speech issues and legal concerns – most go unnoticed except when they send funds or material support like alleged actions of Rahmat Abdhir : At his bail hearing FBI agents said he was in possesion of several guns over 1,000 rounds of amunition and communications gear – Guns per say – are not illegal – nor are there any limits on the number of rifles a person may own in the USA – but if the alleged shipment of weapons took place then there is problem for Abdhir – emails discuss more than just basic materail support but right down to bomb compnents used – funds needed to set aside for the terrorists children if he’s killed and also references to attacks – weapons and whole stack of details that by and of itself – looks like and reads like a detailed description of support given and where and who is doing what to help the Malaysian and Indonesian JI members in Mindanao.

[] “… , Rahmat Abdhir routinely kept his brother informed by providing news stories and Internet links that reported on the conflict in the Philippines and the fact that Zulkifli Abdhir was a wanted fugitive. –

This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in San Francisco, with assistance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Schmidt of the Northern District of California and Trial Attorney John T. Gibbs of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, Counterterrorism Section.

The public is reminded that the charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. …”[]

August 14, 2007 at 10:16 pm 1 comment

War Stories in Jolo – Fox News covers reward vs. ASG

FOX News war stories host Oliver North and team are covering the events down south a good first live report on Hanity and Combs of Fox is on the fox news website. (more…)

June 8, 2007 at 4:45 pm Leave a comment

Philippine Call center gets SMS bomb threat – false alarm but…

A call center based in the former Fort Bonifacio area of Taguig was the subject of the bomb threat that led to the evacuation of over 2,000 employee’s Monday night.

Identified in media reports as the Amber Creek company – Police and security officials were quick to downplay the threat – even after extensive EOD, Swat, and private security anti-terrorism units were deployed to area – per official reports no device was found.

Call center in Taguig gets bomb threat

Call center in Taguig gets bomb threat

The disruption to service comes as call centers are facing increasing problems of rising costs on a weaker US dollar – this days trading at 45 pesos to the Dollar has some BPO companies looking at a serious level of cost saving s of being  set up in the Philippines on contracts based at a time when the US dollar was almost  at 57 pesos to one greenback.

However -the weaker Dollar means that costs are even higher than the Philippines in other outsourced areas such as Ireland and Canada – today Canada’s dollar traded at 92 cents Canadian to one greenback – the costs savings of basing in Canada for some US outsourced firms has lessened to point that many are shifting back to back-up zones in places like Nevada and Connecticut – where wages are lower actually than Toronto and Quebec in general with the new exchange rate levels expected to see a ‘Canuk’ dollar reaching equality with its south of the border US cousins at nearly the same level in the month or so some predict.

Overall outsourcing has become such a investment draw to the region – the philippines in particular is now seen as the top investment destination in the region with vietnam coming in at close second. Or so Japan’s Nikkei reports.

However last night terror related incident seems to have been a false alarm – the idea of threat to such a vital industry here was clearly not lost on security firms who grabbed cameras and prevent as much as they could media’s reporting on anything related to the incident as much as they could. The whole area is private property even if it is a public place.

It is the sum of all fears for couturiers like the Philippines now seen a prime investment destination because of its ability to bounce back from bombing spree’s and other problems that has made it an attractive destination for many industries including IP based services – yet fears remain as clear as the worried faces of officials who laughed off the insident as a prank – that may have been a worker trying to get off work early.

Yet – privately knowing the fickle nature of clients these centers represent threats or actual incidents could result in contract displacement or termination.

You can be sure authorities are keeping an eye on the possibility that the threat is being closely looked at considering warnings over possible JI-Abu Sayyaf  teams in Manila  as also some group attempting to test and gauge response times and study evacuation plans.

Experts I have talked to are closely looking into that possible….  idea that there may be more here than meets the eye even the possibility of business rivals seeking to disrupt services or disgruntled employee’s seeking notoriety.

We’ll keep an eye on this one and see what happens – if it was a prank as it seems to be – then the person who sent the bogus threat should be found, punished, and charged for whatever possible crime is available in the law books. Afterall text messages are admissible as evidence in court.

Let’s see where this goes….

May 23, 2007 at 1:20 am 2 comments

International Poll Watchers in Mindanao: Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia

A group of 21 poll watchers from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia have set up shop in Mindanao to look over the Philippine election process,

The observer mission is being coordinated by the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) and supported with funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Asia Foundation.

In all some 219 observers from the US, EU, Canada, the UK and the UN are looking at the conduct of the election process. Some have also come to learn how to watch and what to look for in election related issues and concerns for when elections take place in their own countries.

 

For this group of mostly Muslim observers during their deployment in the ARMM, the observer team members will be hosted by six local Muslim civil society groups that have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) on April 3, 2007.

The goal is make sure that this group gets a chance to see what is going on and report any irregularities if any are found in the conduct of the polls. The observers for this group from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia – come from countries that do also have elections – however have very different government systems –

Hence each of the observers do bring some issues from their home countries that does show more localized understanding than many western observers – Pakistan for example – is run by former general who took power after a coup. Bangladesh – just had a major upheaval with local political reform being meted out by a sweeping move at anti-corruption and very public arrests of old styled political figures and oligarch’s there. Thailand – well – we all so that coup however peaceful – it still does not have democratically elected leadership at this time – although elections are promised and expected soon there and a major Islamic insurgency is ongoing. Indonesia – like the Philippines is dealing with post dictatorship adjustments to democratic space – and so far it has done well – its government is elected. Malaysia is a democracy – but – still has some post Mahathir issues – reform there seems close at hand with the changes made so far and freedom given to people like Anwar Ibrihim.

Sri Lanka is also facing insurgency – seperatists Tamils hold a mjaor section of the country – but for the most part is a democracy: .

 

 

May 9, 2007 at 11:21 am Leave a comment

Tacurong blast – reports say JI behind bombing

Police in the Philippines think a earlier attempt to bomb a police station on April -and – The suspect they have in that failed attack on a Police Station is behind todays bombing of a billard hall at the Tucurong City market

- Police are hunting down is id ntified as Edris Sabal for the failed bombing. Sabal is suspected of having links to the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists from Indonesia led by Umar Patek and Dulmatin – both men are on the US governments most wanted terrorist lists.

Today’s bombing followed the discovery of another explosive in Banga, South Cotabato on Friday.

As well as a Bomb being dellivered exploding on a motorcycle as would be bombers tried to transport it. two men were killed in the blast.

The blast Tuesday comes six days before the Philippine midterm elections and two weeks after the US, UK, and Austalian embassies in Manila warned its citizens to avoid going to public areas in Mindanao after it received information of an imminent terrorist threat.

JI terrorists, politics could be behind Tacurong blast – report
GMA news.tv, Philippines - Meanwhile, as of 9:30 pm Tuesday, there had been no travel advisory from foreign embassies in the Philippines due to the blast. – GMANews.TV.

» (Update) Bomb blast kills 4, injures over 30 others

» AFP: 3 dead, 30 hurt in Tacurong explosion

Tacurong has been targeted by bomb attacks in recent years,

In January 2003, eight people were killed while 33 others, two of them children, were critically wounded after an unidentified man hurled a grenade at the city’s plaza filled with New Year revelers. Two months later, another blast in Tacurong killed a man and wounded two others. In October 2006, two people died and at least four people were injured when a bomb went off at a public market in the city.

Five killed in bomb attack in southern Philippines Reuters AlertNet
At least three dead in bomb blast in southern Philippines (Roundup) Monsters and Critics.com
Five Killed in Bomb Attack in Southern Philippines Javno.hr
all 19 news articles »

It is known as part of area called the ‘classroom’ by counter terrorism experts in Asia. A majority Christian city that was built on the outskirts of large American agribusiness plantations of Dole and Del Monte – aside from successful bomb attempts over 70 foiled attempts have been foiled and items recovered show a roadmap of bomb making that reaches Iraq, Afghanistan, and, Indonesia – based – on bomb designs. A large number of IED R&D design work is done in the area which is about a two hour drive from a major rebel conflict zone.
.

May 9, 2007 at 12:18 am Leave a comment

Patronage Politics blamed: For Political Murders & Mayhem in the Philippines

The 90 day long Philippine election campaign period for the mid term polls for Congressional and local positions has so far resulted in 75 election related murders.

A briefing given by the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported.

GMANews.TV

</b> Election-related violence cases rise to 108

Saksi: Election-related violence cases rise to 108

» Comelec: Cell phones not barred, just watched

» SunStar: Benguet town ‘loses’ 40 cops to poll duty

» GO to question resolution naming LP as dominant minority

» Poll execs will call which areas to put under Comelec control

» Comelec mulls control over Bantayan Island

» Report: NPAs briefly hold Kampi bets hostage in Agusan Norte

“The PNP, as of May 1 the fatalities included two lawmakers (congressmen), a vice-governor, two mayors, three city councilors, 19 village chairmen and 16 village officials.” Senior Supt. Samuel Pagdilao Jr added that, “Another 32 casualties were supporters of the political candidates or civilians who happened to be in the area when the attacks took place.”.

Police officials however are quick to point out that 75 election related murders however violent this may seem is actually an improvement over past elections. “The number of casualties is still low compared to the 189 reported killed and 279 wounded in the 2004 campaign period”. PNP Spokesman Gen. Pagdilao clarified; overall the situation has improved since the last election.

Partly the decision by the Philippine election commission or COMELEC to place 60 cities and municipalities and two provinces were placed under ‘Comelec control is seen by Police as major reason for the drop in half violent incidents and killings.

Far from Over: 2 weeks till Election Day .

The Philippines Police is at a higher alert level during the election period with assault teams backing up armed police in the streets and mobile and fixed checkpoints spread throughout several areas of COMELEC control.

 

In part to keep warring political factions with heavily armed bodyguards from clashing, “417 cities and municipalities tagged as areas of immediate concern while 216 cities and municipalities were listed areas of concern.”.

Political clans and Warlord Politics:

In some parts of the Country there are those who still rule ‘warlord style’ a throwback to the 1950′s over parts of the country far from the public eye, In some cases even in urban areas with either private militias of bodyguards or often using, ‘active duty’ Military or Policemen.

To the “private Warriors’ whose pay and lifestyle are augmented by the nearly feudal system of old ‘Politics of patronage’.

But while these groups are often in far flung areas.

It is when rival political groups clash the outcome can be extremely violent. In the Central Luzon Province of Nueva Ecjica, an example of what happens when heavily armed political groups cross paths was displayed the often ugly side of ‘politics of the gun’ at it’s worst.

“The shootout in Jaen, Nueva Ecija between the camps of Nueva Ecija congressman Rodolfo Antonino and former Jaen Mayor Antonio Esquivel left four people dead and 14 more wounded – one of the bloodiest election related incidents this campaign.” Babe Romoldez, a columnist of Philippine Star newspaper wrote in in a Op-Ed piece, ” There’s no question a lot of business activity depends on the result of the elections, but of equal concern is for the process to be perceived as clean and honest. Unfortunately, election-related violence is getting more intense, “

The clash between warring political groups has led led to the deployment of 1,000 combat troops to the province and COMELEC (Commission of Elections) control.

In another election related killing a Mayor attending a complaint haring was gunned down on the streets of the Philippines second largest city of Cebu, while even on the campaign trail – violence has become part of the campaign, “Another violent incident involves San Carlos City, Pangasinan mayor Julian Resuello, who was fatally shot during a rally on Saturday. This further intensified perceptions that election violence is getting out of hand”

Local Government Politcal reform urged:

Political patronage which according to some of the top leaders of major LGU’s is often funded by graft ridden political cronyism and illegal ‘rackets’ that is typical at the local level of Government in areas far from the capitol – and – even sometimes in towns and cities of the major metropolitan zenes.

Barely two weeks remains in the campaign till election day on May 14th, In the last week the violence has escalated with 22 new incidents reported – this coming alongside three active insurgent groups clashes with government forces has led the US, UK, and Australia as well as many EU countries to issue warnings to their nationals living or visiting the Philippines to exercise extreme caution and avoid all Political gatherings.

“It is a cycle that needs to be broken, Political leaders to stay in power are expected by the people to hand out ‘favors’, You need funds to do this – so those not wealthy enough become forced to fund these activities with graft. Which leads to ineffective projects and governance,” A leading local official said on condition of anonymity, “Reforms are needed at the local level of politics too, or in the end it will be warfare every time there is an election as groups battle for control of local economies through political feuds and violence.”

With 75 Dead and 12 days to go and at least another week till winning candidates will be proclaimed the danger of more violence looms of violence is in the air already as political rivals claim victory amidst threats of more violence if their candidates do not win.

ABS-CBN News:

Fearless Palace forecast: 8-4 for TU 5/3/2007 4:26:52 AM
COMELEC picks Lakas, LP as dominant parties 5/3/2007 4:26:35 AM
Erap warns of ‘revolt of the masses’ if there is cheating 5/3/2007 2:37:11 AM

 

PNP concerned by swift rise of election violence

PNP concerned by swift rise of election violence

06:09 AM 05/03/2007

‘The threats of violence echo all the way down line from all sides of the politcal spectrum if they don’t win from the leaders at the top down to the lowest councilor.’ A senior national police official declining to be named told the author, “I’m more worried about what happens after the votes are counted and how that goes – if it goes bad – scenes of violence on large scale in some places might happen.’

Police officials privately fear the worst but say they expect if the polls are credible post-election violence ‘Won’t happen’. One thing is certain, as the frenzied campaign period is nearing climax, expect election-related deaths to soar as the Philippine Political warfare nears the homestretch.

May 3, 2007 at 11:21 am 2 comments

US, UK, and, Australia : Issue ‘Terror alerts’ over “Democracy RP style”

It was a strange read but somewhat a fact of life for expatriates here in the Philippines to steer clear of street protests and election rallies taking place in the country.

It is actually a crime for any foreigner to take part in actively the Political process and only properly registered foreign journalists, as well as political observers and diplomats are allowed into polling places. So picture taking is however jovial or festive it may seem is something to do outside of polling places – also to avoid any potential problems – never inside anywhere voting is taking place for foreigners.

I know a lot of foreign tourists often do picture tking and make vacation event out of looking in and seeing for themselves. There is very little risk – most place are very secure – but… ‘be careful or avoid it if you can.” per US, UK, EU, and most other government embassy websites.

Also any financial support is banned, no mater how worthy the cause may seem. If you are an expat here – this is a good time to take a shopping trip to Subic or Clark trade zones – or perhaps try the budget fares to Singapore or HK or go on vacation at some island resort. However the new warning is specific also about the last part of the suggestions I have made – a warning – versus remote island resorts and dive boats.

[] “…“Mid-term elections will be held in the Philippines on 14 May 2007. There is the potential for politically-motivated violence during the election period,” it said in its advisory (www.britishembassy.gov.uk).
The UK advisory came a week after the Australian government issued a similar advisory warning its citizens against going to political rallies. …” []  http://www.Gmanews.tv

Sadly both the US and UK gave a blanket warning on the entire Mindanao region. US official persons- ie diplomats and aid workers – now need special permission to travel anywhere in Mindanao per US embassy release.

[] “…
A bit of overkill – While there are trouble spots – the entire island half the size of the England is far from being a trouble zone – some parts – but not all. It should be revised to be more specific. Davao City and General Santos as well as Cagayan de Oro are while sometimes ‘eventful’ hardly conflict zones. Also thousands of US nationals live these areas. both Fil-Am and otherwise.

[]” … people who reside in or visit areas that face terrorist threats,
such as in Mindanao, travel with their own security force, avoid an
obvious presence, or both.  In some areas of the Philippines,
especially in Mindanao, visitors should avoid travel at night outside
metropolitan areas.  U.S. Government employees must seek special
permission for travel to Mindanao or the Sulu Archipelago.  When
traveling in Mindanao, U.S. official travelers attempt to lower their
profile, limit their length of stay, and exercise extreme caution.  …” []

US embassy travel warning

Actually Compton and other gang filled cities in Los Angeles county and say North Las Vegas or San Francisco’s Hunter point area at night probably are more violent on a friday night than Davao City or any major city in Mindanao. The US attitude however is to err on the side caution always in its warnings after nine – eleven but to lable the entire region as risky – would be like saying – Jersey City is dangerous because of organized crime.

Political rallies can be colorful and often are a highlight of entertainment and public speaking by leaders in locals communities – watching from a distance might be safer – large crowds often can be unpredictable – and – pickpockets and petty crime is sometimes a problem. Violence is also a risk. IED bomb attacks numbered 98 last yar alone throughout the Philippines – although most were in areas of conflict in Southern Mindanao’s Sulu Islands. Philippine security forces defused double that number through out the country preventing over 100 attacks – hence – yes – bombs are a real risk and large crowds pose a tempting target. One need only remember the Madrid train bombings which happened just days before Spanish elections to see that risk as real and not imagined.

A similar plot was fouled by Police a few days before – Madrid’s deadly attacks – when 80 ready to use back-pack bombs werer uncovered along with RPG BP40 rockets in very suburban wuezon city in 2004.  One bomb did get thrugh and destroyed a huge inter island ferry that same year during the 2006 super ferry bombing which killed 100.

Election related violence is a key issue in many races – throughout the country.

13 days to E-day: Violence looms as key issue

I think what embassy’s are doing are just taking precautions for their nationals sake and trying to be as safe rather than sorry – but – still perhaps more detailed warnings rather than blanket alerts would be better. To be honest with you there are I times when traveling in say Cotabato and Maguidanao I feel safer than in some parts of South Central LA at night. MS13 for example has killed more people than the Abu Sayyaf has this year – and – other gang related killings have made many US cities as war torn as Afghanistan without the IED’s and roadside bombs-. So safety is relative to where you are a college campus in Virgina or a street in Manila its always good to be safe and secure.

Another topic noted the threat of terror attacks during the elections was a possible  event to be mindful of as groups might use security forces preoccupation with the election process as a chance to sow terror.

[]“…“We continue to believe that terrorists and criminal elements plan to kidnap foreign tourists from islands and coastal areas in the southern Philippines – i.e. Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago. Kidnappings from other parts of the Philippines cannot be discounted. Boats traveling to and from offshore islands and dive sites are possible targets,” “[] . British embassy warning

US warning:

[]“… U.S. citizens contemplating travel to the Philippines should carefully onsider the risks to their safety and security while there, including  those due to terrorism.  While travelers may encounter such threats nywhere in the Philippines, the southern island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago are of particular concern.  Travelers should exercise extreme caution in both central and western Mindanao as well as in the Sulu Archipelago.

Kidnap for ransom gangs operate in the Philippines.  In January 2007,
one such gang abducted two U.S. citizen children outside their home in
Tagum City, Davao Del Norte, in Mindanao.  The New People’s Army
(NPA), another terrorist organization, operates in many rural areas of
the Philippines, including in the northern island of Luzon.  While it
has not targeted westerners in several years, the NPA could threaten
U.S. citizens engaged in business or property management activities,
and it often demands “revolutionary taxes.”

Terrorist groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Jema’ah
Islamiyah, and groups that have broken away from the more mainstream  Moro Islamic Liberation Front or Moro National Liberation Front have carried out bombings resulting in deaths, injuries and property damage.

Recent incidents have occurred in urbanized areas in
Mindanao.  On January 10, 2007, separate bombings in the cities of
Kidapawan, Cotabato and General Santos killed seven people and injured 1.  While these incidents do not appear to have targeted Westerners  or Western interests, travelers should remain vigilant and avoid ongregating in public areas.

Many people who reside in or visit areas that face terrorist threats,
such as in Mindanao, travel with their own security force, avoid an
obvious presence, or both.  In some areas of the Philippines,
especially in Mindanao, visitors should avoid travel at night outside
metropolitan areas.  U.S. Government employees must seek special
permission for travel to Mindanao or the Sulu Archipelago.  When
traveling in Mindanao, U.S. official travelers attempt to lower their
profile, limit their length of stay, and exercise extreme caution.

The Department strongly encourages Americans in the Philippines to
register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Manila
through the State Department’s travel registration website,
https://travelregistration.state.gov. The U.S. Embassy is located at:
1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines, tel. 63-2-528-6300. The
Consular American Citizen Services (ACS) section’s fax number is
63-2-522-3242 and the ACS web page is at
http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/rp1/wwwhmain.html.  … “[]

May 2, 2007 at 11:14 am Leave a comment

Global Terrorism: Attacks increase 25% – 20,498 killed in 2006

In a report by the US Department of State to the US congress has revealed that terrorism has increased over 25% year on year and fatalities have increased by forty per cent.

The figures put into perspective the figures and deaths that while often inder reproted in media there i a major conflict on at World War Level that many in media often chose to ignore. Some 74,543 civilians were targeted.

[]“… In the annual report to Congress includes analysis from the National Counterterrorism Center, a U.S. intelligence clearinghouse, which found only a slight increase in the overall number of civilians killed, injured or kidnapped by terrorists in 2006. But the attacks were more frequent and deadlier, with a 25 percent jump in the number of terrorist attacks and a 40 percent increase in civilian fatalities from the previous year.

In 2006, NCTC reported, there were a total of 14,338 terrorist attacks around the world. These attacks targeted 74,543 civilians and resulted in 20,498 deaths. …”[]

Iraq: Center of global terrorism action 

The report clearly shows that the center of the attacks is Iraq: ” Violence in Iraq accounted for 45 percent of the overall attacks counted by NCTC and 65 percent of worldwide terrorism deaths.  Terrorist incidents in Iraq nearly doubled from 3,468 in 2005 to 6,630 in 2006. “

It went on further to say : “Although kidnappings declined by 50 percent internationally, Iraq experienced a 300 percent increase, according to NCTC.” an indication as shown by experience here in the Philippines that KFR and terrorism are linked. Kidnapping for Ransom is often used by terror groups and in some cases insurgents as means to both ensure community ‘cooperation’ and also a means to raise revenue.

The Philippines: ” the ‘Success’ story in war vs. terror’

The 2006 US State Department global report on counter terrorism praises  the country  citing “‘the Philippines” as among others in the region who are, ” playing leading roles in confronting threats from groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf.”

[] ” Philippines
The Philippines, one of the earliest supporters of the War on Terror, continued its bilateral and multilateral counterterrorism efforts. In August, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) launched “Operation Ultimatum”, a concerted effort to capture or kill the top Jemaah Islamiya (JI) and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) operatives on Jolo Island in the South. The operation has been highly successful to date as a number of ASG and JI members have been captured or killed since its inception. Philippine forces recently eliminated both Khadaffy Janjalani, the nominal leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group, and ASG spokesperson, Abu Solaiman. Operation Ultimatum is one feature of a U.S.- assisted strategy to strengthen the rule of law in the Sulu archipelago. Joint U.S.-Philippines military exercises know as “Balikatan” supported the Philippine government’s campaign to separate terrorists from the general population and diminish support for their cause. The Antiterrorism Task Force arrested, captured, or killed 88 suspected terrorists, and seized over 900 kilograms of explosive materials. Philippine authorities also made some progress in tracking, blocking, and seizing terrorists’ assets.

Despite some successes, major evidentiary and procedural obstacles in the Philippines continued to hinder the building of effective terrorism cases. A large and growing case backlog and the absence of consistent trials against terrorists were impediments to the prosecution of suspected terrorists. Despite plans dating back to 2001, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had yet to introduce a digitized, machine-readable passport. While the Philippines cooperated with U.S. requests for prosecutions for persons who had tampered or altered travel documents, the prosecutions carried low-level penalties for those convicted of such fraud. In addition, there was a reluctance to investigate or charge vendors or users of false documents. Under current Philippine law, the suspect must present the fraudulent document to a Philippine government authority in order for a crime to have been committed. At year’s end, a counterterrorism bill approved in April by the House of Representatives remained in the Senate.

The Philippines experienced 93 bombings, ranging from improvised explosive devices and grenades to landmines, including:

  • In February, the bombing of a karaoke bar located near a Philippine military base in Jolo left one dead and 22 injured.
  • In March, a bomb exploded at the Sulu Consumers Cooperative in Jolo killing nine people and injuring 20.
  • In June, a roadside bombing in Shariff Aguak killed three people and injured eight.
  • In August, two bombs exploded almost simultaneously in Kidapawan City injuring three people.
  • In September, a bomb exploded at a public market in General Santos City killing two people and injuring six.
  • In October, a bomb exploded near the headquarters of the Sulu Philippine National Police in Jolo injuring two persons.
  • In a separate October attack, three bombs exploded in Tacurong, Sultan Kudurat; Makilala, North Cotabato; and Cotabato City killing eight people and injuring over 30.

The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) was empowered by the Philippines Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 (AMLA), as amended in 2003, to investigate and prosecute money laundering. The AMLC is the lead agency responsible for implementing the asset freeze measures called for by the UN Security Council 1267 Sanctions Committee. Under current law, however, the AMLC cannot take direct action against suspected terrorists or those supporting terrorism, but must apply for a court order to inquire into bank accounts and direct the freezing of assets and transactions. The AMLC sometimes needed several months to issue the relevant resolution to the Court of Appeals after receiving information about a newly-listed terrorist entity and circulating it to the financial institutions. The AMLC has 91 cases pending in various stages with the courts, including 34 for money laundering, 24 for civil forfeiture, and the rest pertaining to freeze orders and bank inquiries. The slow judicial process hindered efforts by the AMLC to see these cases through to conclusion; a trial can take up to seven years to complete. In April, a bilateral U.S.-Philippines Security Engagement Board (SEB) was inaugurated to address non-traditional security issues, including counterterrorism and maritime security. The SEB set the stage for the “Kapid Bisig” (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) counterterrorism framework that focused on civil affairs, capability upgrades, and support for AFP operations. The United States assisted the Philippines in establishing an interagency intelligence fusion center in Zamboanga City to support both maritime interdictions against transnational criminal/terrorist organizations, and the “coast watch” system in Mindanao, established with Australian assistance. ” []

AFGHANISTAN & South Asia attacks up: 

The report also found a 50 percent increase in terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, from 491 incidents in 2005 to 749 in 2006. To defeat the resurgent threat, the report urges the international community deliver promised assistance and continue working with Afghans to build counterinsurgency capabilities, ensure legitimate and effective governance and counter a surge in narcotics cultivation.

” NCTC reported that the majority of terrorist attacks remain centered in the Middle East and South Asia, but noted that overall attacks in South Asia declined by 10 percent. ” so says the State department press release.

Child victims of attacks increase 80% increase in casualties:

Children were increasingly the victims of terrorism in 2006, with 1,800 killed or injured in attacks, an 80 percent increase from the previous year.  As in 2005, government officials, teachers and journalists remain the leading professionals targeted by terrorists, according to the report.

VENEZUELA: Hugo Chavez: possible state Sponsor?

The report also claims that Venezuela’s leader may be seen as major figure in state sponsored terrorism soon, ” President Hugo Chavez has strengthened ties with Cuba and Iran and has allowed terrorist groups and drug traffickers from neighboring Colombia to cross its borders.  ” says US State Department in its press release.

However looking over the report at length it did cite the cooperation of Venezuelan police in protecting the US Embassy. ” An individual claiming to be a member of an Islamic extremist group in Venezuela placed two pipe bombs outside the American Embassy in Caracas on October 23.” But went on to say, ” Venezuelan police safely disposed of the two pipe bombs and immediately made one arrest.”

The report also cited that. “The investigation by Venezuelan authorities resulted in the additional arrest of the alleged ideological leader of the group. At year’s end, both suspects remained in jail and prosecutors were pressing terrorism charges against them.” yet in other  areas of ideological  conflict Venezuela  still supports or so the US State Department report says – Narco Terrorism and leftist rebel groups who have engaged in terror attacks versus Americans and American companies.

[] “… President Hugo Chavez persisted in public criticism of U.S. counterterrorism efforts, deepened Venezuelan relationships with Iran and Cuba, and was unwilling to prevent Venezuelan territory from being used as a safe haven by the FARC and ELN, effectively flouting UN Security Council Resolutions 1373 and 1540, which form part of the legal basis of international counterterrorism efforts.

Chavez’ ideological sympathy for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) limited Venezuelan cooperation with Colombia in combating terrorism. FARC and ELN units often crossed into Venezuelan territory to rest and regroup with relative impunity. Splinter groups of the FARC and another designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, the United Self- Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), operated in various parts of Venezuela and were involved in narcotrafficking.

It remained unclear to what extent the Venezuelan government provided material support to Colombian terrorists. However, limited amounts of weapons and ammunition — some from official Venezuelan stocks and facilities — have turned up in the hands of Colombian terrorist organizations. The Venezuelan government did not systematically police the 1,400-mile Venezuelan-Colombian border to prevent the movement of groups of armed terrorists or to interdict arms or the flow of narcotics.”[]

The full text of Country Reports on Terrorism 2006 is available on the State Department Web site.

May 1, 2007 at 7:01 am Leave a comment

Moro Islamic Liberation Front: US troop ‘movements & sightings’ reported on Rebel website

The Moro Islamic Liberation Frontwebsite Lurwaran.com in a very short article more like a forum posting reported groups of two US troopers -in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Shariff Kabungsuan moving around the area of Mount Kabalalan.

American servicemen urged to stay in camp
[]“… A group of villagers in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Shariff Kabungsuan told Luwaran reporter recently that several American servicemen in group of twos were sighted in far-flung villages of upper Semba and Dimapatoy, this town. “They are scouring the mountain near Mount Kabalalan,” said one villager who asked not to be named, “and for what reason I do not know.”…”[]MILF webiste

The report does not say much – nor does it allege any wrong doing on the part of US forces but coming at a time of tension and fighting further south in Jolo in the Sulu Province area the report does in its headline “US servicemen urged to stay in camp’ says it all perhaps.

The MILF has about 16,000 OR so armed fighters both full time in uniform and rebel units and scores of sympathizers some of whom are hardliners. Like all large organizations it is not a monolithic one – small factions exist and some are alleged to be sympathetic to extremist groups. While the mainstream are moderate and follow the central organizational structure.

The posting is seen by some as – ‘a message’ – or so say those familiar with the way the MILF operates that says ‘they know’ – for the most part however the MILF is taking part in US, EU, and Australian funded and backed peace talks with Malaysian’s playing the role negotiators acting and the Philippine government.

It may have been the US troops – who are allowed to be armed for self defense – under a agreement with the Philippine government – may have just been in the area to asses it for future training missions or ‘medcap’ or medical civic action projects – or could have been just sight seeing – or perhaps were with Philippine troops moving about the area but the message seen is the men were sighted in a ‘sensitive area’ and the posting seems more of interesting view to the opinion of the organization than anything else.

The post has a worrisome portion on its generalization of the role of US peace corps workers – many do not understand that Peace Corps members are ‘vollenteers’ and are non-government in nature – but – ‘government funded’ aid workers.

Often times this kind of opinion can lead to problems for these aid workers and perhaps steps should be taken to clear up the misconception voiced on the website. The last paragraph in particular

I have in my work as a journalist met and traveled and interviewed in areas controlled y the MNLF and MILF and never really had any problems with the organized Moro Rebel groups however commanders often-warn of fringe groups who might seek to damage peace talks or create problems or just make a statement in areas where there is a gap between government and rebel control.

Hence the ‘warning’ this posting gives is les ominous than just a nudge saying ‘Hey be careful out there…”

- like  Hills street blues?

April 30, 2007 at 11:13 am Leave a comment

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