The army recently revealed that a long-sought Islamic terrorist leader and bomb builder thought killed in 2010 (by an American missile in Pakistan) was now known to be hiding out with Filipino Moslem rebels in the south. Usman was seen in a BIFF camp in June and the army is now searching for him. Usman is believed to be building bombs for BIFF, which have been used in several terror attacks in the south. The U.S. is offering a million dollar reward for Usman while the Filipino government is offering $144,000. A year after Usman’s 2010 “death” Filipino intelligence obtained information indicating that Jemaah Islamiyah bomb expert Basit Usman and a team of Islamic terrorists had trained at least twenty Filipinos on how to make and plant bombs, and that these men had been ordered to attack government and Christian targets (especially churches) in the south. Many members of the Indonesian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) had fled to the Philippines after 2005, and had once been under the protection of MILF. But that didn’t last long once the al Qaeda affiliated JI began staging terror attacks throughout the Philippines. Basit Usman is one of the few remaining JI members at large in the Philippines, and is protected, in part, by rogue MILF radicals belonging to BIFF.
The army has begun issuing contracts to update its armored vehicle fleet. The army has 343 armored vehicles, many of them quite old. Despite that 85 percent of them are fit for duty, another ten percent are undergoing maintenance of refurbishment and five percent are disabled and awaiting repairs. The updates and upgrades program will increase the percentage of vehicles available for duty and improve capabilities of some as well.
Anti-corruption efforts have resulted in the arrest of three senators in the last few weeks. The three are charged with participating in a $2 billion theft of government money given to senators to support development projects that were to benefit their constituents.
July 4, 2014: In the south (Jolo Island) an Abu Sayyaf roadside bomb killed one marine and wounded six others. On nearby Sulu Island four soldiers were wounded as they pursued a group of fleeing Abu Sayyaf Islamic terrorists. There are about 300 Abu Sayyaf men still operating in the south (Sulu, Jolo and Basilan).
July 3, 2014: The warden of a prison lost his job because he was caught providing special privileges to politicians jailed on corruption charges. The warden is believed to have accepted bribes.
July 2, 2014: In the south (Sulu Island) marines captured the main Abu Sayyaf camp in the area. There were no marine deaths and the Islamic terrorists were able to drag their dead and wounded away with them (because it took the marines time to get past the mines and booby traps surrounding the camp). The capture of this camp, in addition to providing documents and other clues about what this group of Islamic terrorists are up so also makes several dozen Abu Sayyaf men easer to track down until they can find a new hideout.
June 30, 2014: American and Filipino marines held joint exercises off the coast 220 kilometers east of a part of the South China Sea that China claims even though that area is in Filipino waters.
June 29, 2014: In the south (Zamboanga del Sur province) soldiers captured two NPA rebels.
June 26, 2014: The air force received the first four of 21 refurbished UH-1 (“Huey”) helicopters. These were ordered earlier in 2014. Most of the existing Filipino helicopters are refurbished American UH-1s. The Philippines has received over 150 UH-1s since 1969. About 45 are still in service and only about half of these are operational.
June 19, 2014: In the south (Sulu Island) several clashes between troops and Abu Sayyaf left seven soldiers and marines and ten Islamic terrorists dead.
June 17, 2014: The Philippines announced that it would continue to aggressively patrol its coastal waters. This was aimed at China because it is usually Chinese fishermen that are arrested off the Philippines for illegal fishing.
June 16, 2014: In the south (outside Zamboanga City) police arrested two Abu Sayyaf terrorists wanted for several kidnappings.
June 14, 2014: In the south (Northern Samar province) an NPA landmine killed three soldiers.