Philippines: Kick Them While They're Down

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March 9, 2010:  The military has declared 14 of the nation's 80 provinces free of communist NPA rebels, at least to the point where anti-NPA operations can be turned over to local police. The government still believes it is on track to crush NPA by the end of the year. The military also believes they have damaged Abu Sayyaf to the extent that the terror organization has a very difficult time carrying out terror attacks. The various factions of Abu Sayyaf are often not in touch, and unable to coordinate operations. The recent death of Abu Sayyaf leader Albader Parad was a major blow, because Parad was the most high profile (in the media) Abu Sayyaf leader. His death hurts recruiting and demoralizes existing members. Abu Sayyaf has lost over a dozen leaders (at various levels) in the last few weeks, and several well equipped hideouts. The terror group is getting hammered hard, and does not appear to have any resources to make a comeback.

The MILF wants to work out an interim deal, to at least assure a ceasefire and less military action in the Moslem south. The MILF still wants autonomy and control of Christian populations in the south, but feels it won't get it with the current government (president Gloria Arroyo leaves office in June.) MILF is weak, and facing growing internal splits. The leadership wants some kind of a deal with the government, just to reassure followers that the army will not go back on the offensive.

March 8, 2010: Over the weekend, security forces captured Aladdin Dumpao, an MILF bomb maker who was trained by the Taliban in the early 1990s. Dumpao has worked with the Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists. Dumpao was captured in the south, where he was living openly with a false identity.

March 7, 2010: An army raid in the south (Sulu) killed seven Abu Sayyaf defenders of a fortified coastal base. But Zulkifli Bin Hir ("Marwan" of the Jemaah Islamiyah, or JI), and Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Benhurwere able  to escape. The pre-dawn raid captured fifteen assault rifles and bomb making materials. On Jolo, marines crept up to a jungle Abu Sayyaf hideout, and killed terrorist leader Albader Parad and five followers. One marine was killed.

March 6, 2010: On Mindoro island, just south of the capital, an army lieutenant disobeyed orders, and moved his troops into position at first light, instead of at night, was spotted by the NPA group they were hunting and ambushed. Eleven soldiers were killed.

March 5, 2010: On Sulu, four soldiers were wounded by a homemade landmine, while pursuing Abu Sayyaf terrorists.

March 3, 2010: Three Abu Sayyaf members were captured in the outskirts of the capital, interrupting a plot to set off bombs inside the capital. The three admitted that they had learned bomb making from Jemaah Islamiyah experts. In Manila, a bomb was tossed into a restaurant, wounding fifteen. This was believed part of a feud between two college fraternities (in the Philippines, these feuds often to play out like gang wars.)

March 1, 2010: On Basilan, three soldiers were wounded by a terrorist landmine. The troops were looking for Abu Sayyaf gunmen who killed 13 civilians over the weekend (early Sunday). That attack was in retaliation against civilians who supported the government.

February 28, 2010: In the south, troops ran into 30 members of an Ampatuan clan militia, killing two of them and pursuing the rest. The Ampatuan clan was responsible for killing 57 people in a political dispute last year, and the army has been trying to disarm all factions of the Ampatuan family clan.

February 25, 2010: The government announced the arrest (last weekend) of Mujibar Alih Amon, a known Abu Sayyaf bomb maker.

 

 

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