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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Philippine troops killed one Muslim militant and overran a rebel encampment after a two-day offensive on a southern island, a military commander said Sunday.
Two soldiers were also wounded in the assault on the camp of Abu Sayyaf rebels in Patikul town, Jolo island, 1,000 kilometres south of Manila, that began on Friday.
Lieutenant General Ben Dolorfino, a regional military commander, said the seized camp was suspected to have been an encampment of Abu Sayyaf commander Radullan Sahiron and his men.
He said Sahiron, one of the leaders of the Abu Sayyaf that is wanted by the United States for terrorism, was at the camp at the start of the offensive but was able to escape.
The fighting was part of the military operation to capture senior militant leader Radullan Sahiron, a former commander of the Moro National Liberation Front which signed a peace deal with Manila in 1996.
He really believed the peace agreement, didn’t he? 😈
It was unclear whether Sahiron was in the camp during the fighting or if he had escaped the offensive. But one of Sahiron’s aide was killed in the fighting and that his body was recovered at the weekend.
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- Philippine troops capture key Abu Sayyaf camp (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
Not only Umar Patek and Heru Kuncoro are in the Philippines.
Indonesian officials have asked the Philippine authorities to track down an Indonesian fugitive wanted in connection with several beheadings who is now helping to train militants in an insurgency-wrecked Philippine region, security officials said yesterday.
Sanusi, like many Indonesians using only one name, has been monitored in Mindanao, two Philippine intelligence officials said.
He fled to the region after being accused of ordering militants in 2007 to behead three people in the eastern Indonesian town of Poso, where Islamist militants had launched a series of bloody attacks on Christians and government workers.
Sanusi has emerged as a key operative of Jemaah Islamiyah.
He is believed to have helped fund and organise religious and combat training for new Indonesian militant recruits in Mindanao, where local guerrillas are fighting to create an independent Muslim state.
Thousands of Filipino Muslims, many of them women and the youth chanting “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is Great), launched a series of rallies since Sunday in Mindanao to warn against and denounce the rising tides of anti-Islam and anti-Muslim sentiments sweeping Europe and the United States.
Mass actions were staged in Cotabato City on Sunday with thousands of participants, and in Marawi City on Monday morning, and in the afternoon in this city at Rizal Park.
Speakers, many of them from ulama groups as well as professionals, slammed the pervasive religious discrimination in many EU member countries.
They took turns pointing to anti-Islam acts in Switzerland (the banning of minarets), prohibition of wearing of hijab (scarves) and niqab or burka (face-covering) in France, Germany, and the Netherlands; publication of offensive caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Allaihi Wassalam in Sweden and Norway, among other acts of bigotry.
Aleem Zainal Abedin Saleh in Marawi City recalled the cold-blooded murder by a German citizen in Dresden, Germany, of three-month pregnant Marwa al-Sherbini, 32-year-old Egyptian national, because of her hijab. (carried out by a Nazi who had a deranged mind… But no protest about honor killings, carried out by “devout” Muslims).
In the US, anti-Islam discrimination continues to grow after 9/11, despite the reaching out of American Muslims who are facing strong opposition in some states over the building of new mosques.
Do they know that 85% of Al-Qaeda’s victims are Muslims? Seems killing someone is not as bad as forbidding him/her to wear a burka for equality and security reasons (how many criminals had used the burqa to commit a crime so the police can’t identify them?).