Philippines: Safe Haven for Islamic Terrorists

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March 3, 2007: In six months of operations on Jolo, over 6,000 soldiers and marines have killed 20 percent of the Abu Sayyaf rebels on the island (estimated to be about 400). In the process, the military has suffered 130 casualties, including 30 men killed in action. There are about 450 American troops in the south, providing technical services to the military, in support of counter-terrorist operations. Some of these work on Jolo. There have only been a few American casualties, because the U.S. troops don't participate in combat operations.

March 1, 2007: In the south, 30 NPA rebels were attacked by troops, leaving ten rebels and two soldiers dead. Operations against the NPA has apparently included surveillance of other leftist groups. Leftists accuse the army of using death squads to kill those believed to be allied with the NPA, or sympathetic to their goals and methods. The war with leftist groups like the NPA has been going on for over half a century.

February 28, 2007: The government believes 82 members of Indonesian terrorist group, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the major al Qaeda affiliates in southeast Asia, are hiding out in the southern Philippines. JI is openly working with Abu Sayyaf, and less openly with other Moslem groups, like the MILF and MNLF. JI has found the Philippines a safer environment than their native Indonesia, where police have been more successful at hunting down Islamic terrorists. In the Philippines, the Moslems are a minority, and in the largely Moslem south, Islamic radicals are often protected by the locals. In Moslem majority Indonesia, popular opinion has turned against Islamic terrorism, and people are more likely to turn in suspected terrorists.

February 27, 2007: On Jolo, over the weekend, another eight Abu Sayyaf rebels were killed, and thirteen Scout Rangers were wounded. The fighting sometimes involved members of the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front), a group that has signed a peace deal with the government. But some MNLF members still prefer to fight the government.

 

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