Philippines: Bomb blast rocks Cotabato while conversations are ongoing with MILF

Map of the Philippines with Cotabato highlighted

Map of the Philippines with Cotabato highlighted. Image via Wikipedia

A bomb exploded yesterday evening at the residence of a gun store owner in the southern Philippines, where a homemade bomb killed two people and wounded 10 others four days ago, officials said today.

Lawyer Cynthia Guani-Sayadi, city administrator, said the explosion occurred around 8 p.m. Saturday outside the house of JV Martinez along De Mazenod Street in the southern city of Cotabato occurred but no casualty was reported.

“The explosive was left outside Martinez residence. He was not around that time,” said Sayadi.

Martinez is the owner of a gun store along the city’s Quezon Avenue where a bomb went off Tuesday killing two people and wounding 10 others.

“He (Martinez) already gave his side to the police. He told investigators that he has no idea why his shop was attacked. But we know that he has several grudges,” said Sayadi.

via Bomb blast rocks Cotabato – Home » Other Sections » Breaking News.

Nonetheless,  Philippine President Benigno Aquino is in talks with MILF’s leader Murad Ibrahim. We have to remember that MILF’s objective is to create an Islamic state in Mindanao.

Philippines: Military blames Jemaah Islamiyah for deadly bomb attack

Map of the Philippines

Image via Wikipedia

Again. And again.

The military blamed al-Qaeda linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) for the powerful bomb blast today in the country\’s south that left two people dead and eight others wounded.
Lt. Col. Prudencio Asto, a regional military spokesman, said the attack was carried out by students of slain militant Basit Usman of Indonesian-based terrorist network JI and the al-Qaeda linked Abu Sayyaf group.

via Military blames Jemaah Islamiyah for deadly bomb attack – Home » Other Sections » Breaking News.

Philippines: Government to fund Muslim education

President-elect Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquin...

Image via Wikipedia

The government has announced the release of 251.6 million pesos (US$5.9 million) in funding to implement the madrasah education program.

The funds, released through the Department of Education, were in line with President Benigno Aquino’s commitment to improve the standard of education in the country as a tool for peace and development, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said in a statement this week.

Education is the central strategy of the Aquino administration for investing in the people and enhancing their opportunity to gain meaningful employment,” Abad said.

He added that the government also needed to “mainstream and institutionalize madrasah education” as part of the national system of basic education.

The program has three components: Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education (ALIVE) in public schools, ALIVE for out-of-school Muslim youths and adults, and assistance to private madaris (schools for higher religious education).

Of the funds released, 173.25 million pesos will go to the office of the education secretary while 78.35 million pesos will be released directly to school division offices to cover the allowances of  Muslim teachers.

via Government to fund Muslim education – ucanews.com.

Philippines: tourists kidnapped by “group of armed men”

Map of Zamboanga Penninsula showing the locati...

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(Translation: T&P)

A group of gunmen have kidnapped three tourists, including an American woman and her son aged 14, in Zamboanga City, located on the Philippine island of Tictabón (south), as reported by the local police chief, Edwin Ocampo.

Around 3.00 am on Tuesday (21.00 pm on Monday in Spain) 14 gunmen arrived in the city in two boats, disarmed the guards and abducted Gerfa Lunsmann Yeatts, 50 years old, his son Kevin Eric, and his nephew Romnick Jackaria, 19.

Ocampo has indicated that Lunsmanns and her family were vacationing on the island to visit relatives. Apparently, they planned to return to the U.S. this week. Her husband, a German citizen, has been informed of the kidnapping.

So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, however, several Muslim separatist Islamist cells and are present on the island. “We’re still trying to track down the gunmen,” Ocampo acknowledged.

The Islamist group Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are two of the usual actors in the area. The first, linked to Al Qaeda has dozens of people captive in Basilan and Jolo islands.

via Informativos Telecinco.com – Un grupo de hombres armados secuestra a tres turistas en Filipinas.

Nobel Peace Prize ceremony boycott grows due to Chinese pressure

Free Liu Xiaobo

Liu Xiaobo was imprisoned for 11 years due to his participation in the document called Chapter 08, in which several people supported democracy and the end to the “one-party”

… China and 18 other countries have decided not to be represented “for various reasons.” It noted that number has tripled from six weeks ago.

The countries joining China in its boycott include Russia, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, Tunisia, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Pakistan, Egypt, Morocco and the Philippines.

The 58 countries who have embassies in Oslo were invited to attend.

China strongly objected to Liu’s win last October and levelled more criticism Tuesday, calling members of the Nobel committee “clowns” who are “interfering in China’s judicial affairs.”

The 54-year-old writer and academic was jailed in December 2009 to serve an 11-year term for subversion. He was detained just days before the publication of what has turned out to be an explosive political document, Charter 8, which he co-wrote.

Charter 08 calls for an end to one-party rule and the introduction of democratic reforms in China. It was signed, via the internet, by thousands of people, some of them Communist Party officials.

via CBC News – World – Nobel Peace Prize ceremony boycott grows.

Philippines: Hundreds of families flee as fighting breaks out in S. Philippines

Hundreds of terrified families fled in the southern Philippines as fighting between government security forces and Muslim rebels erupted, an Army official said on Sunday.

Lt. Col. Domingo Gobway, a battalion commander, said militias and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front clashed on Saturday afternoon in the town of Pikit in North Cotabato.

The fierce gun battle lasted for five hours, prompting civilians, about 500 families, fled their homes in the village of Macabual for fear of their safety.

Gobway said no one was reportedly hurt or killed on the government side.

The fighting occurred as peace talks between Manila and MILF rebels remained stalled.

The MILF has been fighting government troops for decades in a bid to establish a self-rule Muslim state in the south of the predominantly Catholic country.

via Hundreds of families flee as fighting breaks out in S. Philippines | The Manila Bulletin Newspaper Online.

In 2008, the Philippines’ Govt authorised the modification of the Constitution to grant MILF what they wanted. But the modification was stopped due to heavy opposition from citizens who didn’t want that constitutional change to be made.

Philippines: bomb on bus kills 10, wound 9

That is the final toll.Although no one has claimed responsibility, police believes the responsible of the attack are members of gang linked to Muslim terrorists from the South, called Al-Khobar.

A bomb ripped through a passenger bus Thursday in the southern Philippines, killing at least eight people and wounding 10 in an attack authorities blamed on an extortion gang with links to Muslim militants.

The bus was traveling with more than 50 passengers when the powerful blast shook the rear part of the vehicle from the overhead compartment, police Chief Superintendent Gil Meneses said. The force of the blast was so strong it decapitated two of the victims, he said.

The wounded were brought to hospitals near Matalam township in North Cotabato province. Police and army units interviewed survivors and combed through the twisted metal trying to extract the injured, Meneses said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing. The south of the Philippines is home to kidnappers, extortion gangs and a decades-old Muslim insurgency.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said authorities suspect the Al-Khobar extortion gang in the attack, saying the bus company involved in the bombing had been targeted for extortion in the past.

Al-Khobar is the most notorious of the region’s extortion gangs, and authorities say it is made up of criminals and former Muslim rebels who have been blamed for attacking business establishments refusing to pay their ransom demands. The group is on a U.S. list of terrorist organizations.

Source.

For more information on Al-Khobar’s activity, click here.

Philippines: Supreme Court rules anti-terrorism law constitutional

The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of a 2007 anti-terror law, which the government sought to bolster a U.S.-backed campaign against al-Qaida-linked militants but critics fear could muzzle civil liberties.
Left-wing alliance Bayan, one of the groups that sought the repeal of the Human Security Act, said Monday it would appeal last Friday’s ruling. The law rarely has been used since it took effect because law enforcers fear the heavy punishment it includes for mistaken arrests and abuses.
Then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a staunch Asian ally of the U.S. campaign against terrorism, signed the anti-terror law in 2007 to turn her Southeast Asian country — regarded as a breeding ground of Islamic radicals — into a hostile territory for militants.
Arroyo cited terrorist attacks, including the bombing of buses, telecommunications and power lines.
The United States and Australia welcomed the new law, which took effect in July 2007. U.S. and Australian security officials have expressed fears that suspected terror training camps in the southern Philippines could produce militants who could strike anywhere in the world.
But several left-wing groups, legislators and human rights advocates separately petitioned the Supreme Court to declare the law unconstitutional, arguing its definition of terrorism was too broad and could cover legitimate dissent like labor strikes, anti-U.S. demonstrations and even daring stunts by Greenpeace activists who barge into ships and power plants.
The law defines terrorism as any of at least 12 violent crimes — including murder, kidnapping, arson, piracy, coup and rebellion — that cause widespread and extraordinary panic and force the government to give in to an unlawful demand.

Source.

Philippines: Terrorist group discovered "following the money"

Follow the Money | Maria Ressa’s Blog Site:
The name of this just discovered group is Al Intlaqah, which Philippine intelligence reports say means “the beginning” or “take-off.” Allegedly based in Saudi Arabia, authorities say it is affiliated with Al-Qaeda. Interestingly enough, it uses the same networks Al-Qaeda exploited in the Philippines in the past.

The discovery began last February after the Philippine National Police arrested two Jordanian nationals Khalil Hassan Al-Ali and Walid Abu Aishe. Their interrogation led to another arrest two weeks ago of Jordanian Mohammed Amro Amayin. These three men have been long-time residents of the Philippines. They have businesses like a recruitment agency and a restaurant.

So they seem to be what spies would call “sleepers.” They built lives in Manila – they married locally and are raising their families in the Philippines. They have also been linked by authorities to the 1995 cell used by World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and his uncle, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the architect of 9/11.

That cell was set up in the late 80’s to provide a financing network for the spread of radical ideology and terrorist tactics. For example, homegrown groups like the MILF, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, received money through that network, while Ramzi Yousef trained members of the extremist group, the Abu Sayyaf, in bomb-making (although Yousef would later complain to authorities they weren’t trainable because they knew nothing but guns.)

According to Philippine intelligence reports, Al Intlaqah is planning attacks targeting the US, British, Australian and Israeli embassies as well as a museum in the financial center Makati. Some newspaper reports quoted an official saying it included an assassination plot against Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, but we found that the Arabic documents recovered by authorities did not support that claim. It merely planned surveillance of the presidential convoy. Perhaps they came to that conclusion by inference.

More alarming for authorities, the Arabic documents included 16 pages full of chemical formulas from a Palestinian bomb-making Web site authorities said was called Palintafada. It also included a plan to release someone named in the documents as “Laskar” – who authorities say they believe is Ahmad Santos, who lived and was radicalized in Saudi Arabia. He is also the head of the Rajah Solaiman Movement, an extremist group of Christian converts – which has all but been neutralized after his arrest.

Philippines: Abu Sayyaf terrorist killed by troops

WaPo:

Philippine troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf gunmen in a southern coastal village Sunday and killed a long-wanted militant who helped in the 2001 kidnapping of three American and 17 Filipino tourists and the takeover of a hospital, the military said.

Abdukarim Sali was killed before dawn in a clash with troops and police in Lower Mangas village on Basilan island’s Lantawan township – a stronghold of the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf, regional military commander Lt. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino said.

The other militants fled, leaving behind Sali’s body, an M16 rifle and grenade launcher, ammunition and cell phones.

The government offered a $7,700 bounty for the capture or death of Sali, who has been accused of helping kidnap three American and 17 mostly Chinese Filipino tourists in May 2001 from the Dos Palmas resort in western Palawan province.

Philippines: Bishop fears for Christians’ lifes after Basilan’s attacks

Basilan's religion profile Category: BasilanImage via Wikipedia

This is an update on this story:

Following an April 13 Islamist terrorist attack that destroyed 70% of his cathedral, a Philippine bishop says that he and the other Christians of the city fear for their lives.
“It is the first time we are attacked so directly and with such force,” said Bishop Martin Jumoad of the Territorial Prelature of Isabella. “In the past, I received several threatening letters and intimidation. There have been other smaller attacks, but now it is very different. This could be a tragedy. I seriously fear for my life and the lives of the faithful.”
I have prepared a pastoral letter calling on Catholics to stay in Basilan, which is our home, and asking them to remain calm, not to react to violence, and to pray for peace,” he added. “Today, a procession of people carrying candles as a sign of peace lit the city. Our hope must not die.”
81% of the Philippines’ 88.7 million people are Catholic. However, the territory in which Bishop Jumoad ministers is predominantly Muslim, with only 27% of residents being Catholic.

CNA has more on the Bishop’s statements:

Sta. Isabel Cathedral via.

The 53-year-old prelate said he does not know how to rebuild the cathedral (left), constructed in 1970 with a capacity for 1,400 worshipers.
…The blasts shattered the cathedral’s stained glass windows and damaged the priests’ rectory. Several priests’ service vehicles were also destroyed.
Regional military chief Lieutenant General Ben Dolorfino said military intelligence had received reports of an impending attack, but not its details, AFP says.
They were planning something big. This was well planned and apparently they were well funded.”
Authorities suspect that politicians who hired mercenaries may have been behind the attacks. 

LWJ reports on other aspects of the attacks:

Five civilians, five Philippine Marines, a policeman, and four Abu Sayyaf Group fighters were reported killed in the ensuing clashes, and five Abu Sayyaf fighters were captured. Police and Philippine troops are currently pursuing the remaining Abu Sayyaf fighters.
Today’s attacks in Isabela are reminiscent of recent terror assaults by the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and other al Qaeda-associated groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Yemen.

A reasonable cause to attack his Cathedral, isn’t it?

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The U.N. Partners With Terror

Not only they want us to pay for a Global Tax on Internet. Now they are also making friends among terrorist groups… even if the UN itself has designated them as terrorists:

Two English language Arab news outlets (1, 2) reported this week that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has partnered with the Saudi-based International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO)…. While both articles are celebrating this partnership, both fail to mention that IIRO has been designated as a terrorist group. On August 3, 2006, the U.S. Treasury Department designated both two branches of IIRO in the Philippines and Indonesia as terrorist organizations for providing money and support to Al Qaida-linked groups, notably Abu Sayyaf (ASG) in the Philippines and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in Indonesia. According to the Treasury Department:

The IIRO-PHL is a source of funding for the al Qaida-affiliated ASG. IIRO-PHL has served as a liaison for the ASG with other Islamic extremist groups. A former ASG member in the Philippines familiar with IIRO operations in the country reported that a limited amount of foreign IIRO funding goes to legitimate projects and the rest is directed to terrorist operations. (emphasis added)

via The U.N. Partners With Terror :: The Investigative Project on Terrorism.

Not only US considers this organization as a terrorist organisation. The UN also has designated it as a terrorist entity.

(via).

Logic, where are thou?

Philippines: MILF denies training detained JI militant

Links between Jemaah Islamiyah and MILF are not recent:

The Philippine largest rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), denied Friday that a suspected member of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI)detained in Singapore had been trained in their camp.

Eid Kabalu, spokesperson for the MILF, denied that Mohamad Azmibin Ali, 41, was among those foreigners who underwent training on bomb-making in Camp Abubakar in Maguindanao in early 1980s.

Singapore officials recently alleged that Ali, who was arrested in November last year, was trained in lair of the MILF.

via MILF denies training detained JI militant_English_Xinhua.

Philippines: Grenade thrown at Jolo cathedral

Violence against non-Muslims (in this case Catholics) in the Philipines is daily. Normally they don’t get to the front pages of international MSM but the climate of tension, specially in Jolo area, is unstoppable. They even have their own terrorist groups, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Abu Sayyaf. Of the foreign terrorist groups, Jemaah Islamiyah is the one who has seen its influence grow stronger these last years.

For the second time in three months, a grenade has exploded at the cathedral of the Vicariate Apostolic of Jolo in the southern Philippines. No one was injured in the blast, which took place before the first Sunday morning Mass, though some of the cathedral windows were shattered.While 81% of the nation’s 88.7 million people are Catholic, the Jolo area is heavily Muslim: fewer than 3% of the area’s 1 million residents are Catholic. Jolo’s previous ordinary, Bishop Benjamin D. de Jesus, was slain in front of the cathedral in 1997.

via Catholic Culture : Latest Headlines : Grenade thrown at Philippine cathedral.

Philippines: Govt tries to arrest Abu Sayyaf terrorists, clashes spark

Attempts by government troops to arrest three militant leaders wanted by the Philippines and the United States on kidnapping and murder charges sparked clashes that left up to 17 rebels dead, officials said Monday.

The fighting erupted Sunday when government forces cordoned off a village on Jolo island in the southern Philippines and tried to arrest the three Abu Sayyaf commanders. Some of the estimated 220 militants in the village fired on the soldiers and clashes ensued.

Regional military commander Maj. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino said troops recovered the body of one militant, but that intelligence sources indicated at least 17 rebels were killed. Five government soldiers were wounded, Dolorfino said in a brief telephone interview.

The hostilities broke out as residents of the predominantly Muslim island celebrated the Islamic festival of Eid-al-Fitr. Troops were trying to arrest rebel commanders Isnilon Hapilon, Albader Parad and Umbra Jumdail, also known as Dr. Abu.

Related: Philippine troops seize al-Qaida-linked militants’ camp; kill 19 in clashes.

Philippines: clashes with terrorists leave 43 dead

At least 43 people – including 23 soldiers and 20 militants – have been killed in clashes in the southern Philippines, an army commander says.

Maj Gen Benjamin Dolorfino said 400 troops launched co-ordinated attacks on a camp belonging to Abu Sayyaf rebels on the southern island of Basilan.

He said soldiers recovered home-made bombs and 13 high-powered firearms.

Fighting has ceased, but troops were combing the area to see if two targeted Abu Sayyaf chieftains had been killed.

The rebel leaders were named as Khair Mundus and Furuji Indama by the Associated Press (AP) news agency, citing military officials.

More information here.

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Phillippines: Landmine Attack by leftist terrorists kills 2 soldiers, wounds 2

The Philippines not only has Islamic terrorism in its South, but also has leftist terrorism:

Pilipinas Two soldiers were killed and five others wounded in a landmine attack staged by suspected leftist rebels Monday afternoon in the southern Philippines, an Army official said.Army Captain Rosa Maria Cristina Rosete Manuel, spokesperson for the military’s 10th Infantry Division, said that New People’s Army (NPA) guerillas detonated a landmine planted along a highway at a remote village in the city of Davao while a military truck was passing.

The military official said that the soldiers had just unearthed some remains of persons believed to be killed by some NPA rebels and were heading back to their headquarters when they were attacked.

The latest attack occurred days after the Philippine government announced its plan to resume peace talks with the leftists next month.

via Two soldiers killed, five hurt in landmine attack in S. Philippines_English_Xinhua.

Just wondering what governments talk with these terrorists “fighters”…

Philippines: Jemaah Islamiyah poses serious threats to the country

News Analysis: Philippines faces serious threat from Jemaah Islamiayh bombers_English_Xinhua

Bin LadenFilipino Muslim militants sheltered them, fed them and helped them evade government troops when they first reached Philippine shores across the Sulawesi Sea. In return, they trained locals to make powerful bombs designed to sow terror.

That’s how a handful of fugitive bombers of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), an Indonesia-headquartered militant group with close ties with the Al Qaeda network, took roots and slowly regained clout in the insurgency-infested southern Philippines, officials and analysts said.

But this interaction has apparently entered another level with JI operatives expanding their network and trying to forge an alliance with small groups of local extremists struggling for survival, said Rodolfo “Boogie” Mendoza, a top Filipino counter-terrorism researcher.

“The terrorist threat is real and serious,” Mendoza told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

He said around ten Indonesian bombers arrived late last year, bringing the total number of JI operatives hiding in the jungles of southern Philippines to 40, headed by a certain Indonesian national Usman Riesal and two prime suspects in the deadly bombings in Indonesia’s tourist island of Bali in 2002.

An update from this story.

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Philippines: Military clueless on JI whereabouts

An update on this story:

The military on Monday admitted that it is clueless on the whereabouts of foreign operatives of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group who had managed to slip into the country.

We have monitored the entry of JI members in the country. They are training local terrorists to make bombs and other tactics. We learned of it through intelligence reports”, Armed Forces public information chief Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. said in an interview on dzXL radio.

Brawner’s admission came a week after several people were killed in the bombing of two hotels in Jakarta, and a week before President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo delivers her last State of the Nation Address.

National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales had also linked the JI to a series of bombings in several key areas in Mindanao earlier this month. At least seven were killed in those bombings.

via GMANews.TV – Military clueless on JI whereabouts in RP – Nation – Official Website of GMA News and Public Affairs – Latest Philippine News.

Philippines: twin bomb blasts kill 6, wound 40

Field reports said two died in Jolo in the southwestern island-province of Sulu while 18 others were injured in Iligan City in Northern Mindanao, said Carmelito Lupo, regional disaster coordinating council chairman. (Last news are that “At least six people have been killed and more than 40 others wounded by twin bomb blasts in the southern Philippines, in what officials described as coordinated attacks by Al Qaeda-linked militants“).

The explosions occurred two days after a powerful bomb exploded across a Catholic church in Cotabato City on Sunday, killing five people and wounding at least 40 others.

The Iligan incident was from a bomb planted inside a parked car that exploded at 10:40 a.m. as a military vehicle passed Sabayle St., wounding three soldiers.

Northern Mindanao police director Chief Superintendent Danilo T. Empredad said the region has been placed on heightened alert.

“We will continue with our counter-terrorism activities but we need the cooperation of citizens especially our barangay officials because this war involves all stakeholders,” he told BusinessWorld.

via BusinessWorld Online: Two casualties in Mindanao bomb blasts; military alert raised.

About the bomb blast outside the Cathedral:

It is known for certain that fundamentalist individuals such as Dulmatin, Umar Patek, and Zulkifli bin Hir (experts in bombs for terrorism attacks) were in the area and that their goal is to destabilise this already tormented part of the southern Philippines. Police arrested and are holding a suspect for questioning.

From the Zulkifli link above:

Since August 2003, he has been present in the Philippines, where he is believed to have conducted bombmaking training for the Abu Sayyaf Group.