Sunday, August 5, 2007

Will U.S. Tag MILF as a Foreign Terrorist Organization?

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) may soon be added to the United States list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, along with the CPP-NPA, and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). I think this will soon happen, no matter what Jess Dureza and President Arroyo say they are doing with PEACE TALKS because the MILF is heavily implicated in a California case against two Indonesians, Zulkifli and Rahmat Abdhir, indicted for terrorist activity in both the Philippines and in the United States. In particular, it appears that the MILF has been harboring Zulkifli in Mindanao (along with paisanos Dulmatin, Umar Patek and the rest of the Bali Bomberos). Zulkifli happens to be a member of the Jemaah Islamiyah's central command, has US$5 million bounty on his head as a "specially designated Global Terrorist" and is a US-trained engineer who has applied himself to the art of bomb-making and is sharing his knowledge all over Bangsamorostan. The California terrorism indictments solidify a case for the long-standing suspicion that the MILF is seriously in bed with Jemaah Islamiyah.
US Department of Justice
WASHINGTON – A fugitive U.S.-designated terrorist, who is the subject of a $5 million U.S. reward and is believed to be at large in the Philippines, has been indicted on terrorism-related charges in the Northern District of California along with his brother in the U.S., who allegedly provided funds and equipment to him even as the fugitive evaded capture and battled Philippine troops, the Justice Department announced today.

The 16-count indictment and an arrest in the case this morning were announced by Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Scott N. Schools, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California; Joseph Billy, Jr., FBI Assistant Director for Counterterrorism; and Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Zulkifli Abdhir, aka “Zulkifli Bin Abdul Hir, aka “Hulagu,” aka “Marwan,” age 41, a fugitive believed to be in the Philippines, is charged in the indictment with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and providing material support to terrorists. In September 2003, the U.S. government designated Abdhir as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist pursuant to Executive Order 13224. In March 2007, the State Department added him to the most-wanted list of its Rewards for Justice program and authorized a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest or conviction, noting that he was a member of the central command of Jemaah Islamiyah and was believed to be involved in multiple deadly bomb attacks in the Philippines.

Rahmat Abdhir, aka “Sean Kasem,” aka “Sean Kalimin,” age 43, is a U.S. citizen living in San Jose, Calif., and the brother of Zulkifli Abdhir. Rahmat Abdhir is charged in the indictment with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, providing material to terrorists, contributing goods and services to a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (his brother), and false statements. FBI agents arrested Rahmat Abdhir this morning outside his place of employment in Sunnyvale, Calif. He made his initial appearance today in federal court in San Jose.

“With today’s arrest and indictment, we have closed off a channel by which an American citizen was allegedly funding and supplying a fugitive designated terrorist with two-way radios and other materials for his operations overseas,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security Kenneth L. Wainstein. “As this case demonstrates, we will bring the full force of the law against anyone who uses the resources of our economy to support overseas terrorism.”

U.S. Attorney Scott N. Schools said, “This indictment is the product of the extraordinary efforts that FBI, ICE, CBP and their federal, state and local partners have made to assure that the country is protected from future terrorist acts and that individuals who sympathize with terrorists in other parts of the world do not find comfort in the United States. I appreciate the investigative efforts of the FBI and ICE, and the prosecutorial efforts and expertise provided by the Department's National Security Division.”

“Today’s charges illustrate the workings of an international terror network -- and how law enforcement and intelligence agencies, joining together and sharing information, can successfully disrupt the deadly plans of terrorists,” said Joseph Billy Jr., FBI Assistant Director for Counterterrorism.

“ICE leveraged both our customs and immigration authorities during this investigation,” said Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “Working with our law enforcement partners, federal agents were able to seize dangerous equipment destined for people who mean to do harm.”

Money, Radios and Other Equipment Sent from the U.S.

According to the indictment, Zulkifli Abdhir and Rahmat Abdhir communicated with one another between the United States and Philippines, often in code to disguise the nature of their activities, as Zulkifli Abdhir engaged in battles with Philippine troops and evaded capture. Among other things, they discussed items that Zulkifli Abdhir wanted his brother to send him in the Philippines from the United States, including money and accessories for firearms, Insignia two-way radios, backpacks, and knives.

According to the indictment, Rahmat Abdhir shipped requested items to his brother in the Philippines using various aliases for the sender and the recipient. Between June 2006 and June 2007, Rahmat Abdhir allegedly shipped nearly 30 hand-held or two-way radios, as well as Colt .45 magazines, binoculars, a rifle scope and firearms manual, flashlights, batteries, and camouflage clothing to his brother.

The indictment also alleges Zulkifli Abdhir routinely informed Rahmat Abdhir when he needed money sent or wired to the Philippines for purchases of items including firearms and ammunition. Rahmat Abdhir transferred the requested money to Zulkifli Abdhir through bank accounts that his brother provided in the Philippines, varying the times and amounts of money sent, and using false names and addresses. Between June 2006 and June 2007, Rahmat Abdhir allegedly sent more than $10,000 to his brother.

Zulkifli Abdhir kept his brother in the U.S. informed of his situation on the ground in the Philippines by providing reports of battles between Philippine troops and his protectors there, including elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The MILF has waged a secessionist campaign in the Southern Philippines over approximately the last 30 years and has provided assistance to groups such as Al Qaeda’s regional affiliate Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf group.

In one instance, Zulkifli Abdhir described an effort by Philippine government troops to capture him on Aug. 10, 2006 in which commandos surrounded his house and a gun battle ensued. Zulkifli Abdhir also described numerous battles and conflicts with Philippine government troops after a ceasefire between MILF and the Philippine government ended on Sept. 30, 2006. In turn, Rahmat Abdhir routinely kept his brother informed by providing news stories and Internet links that reported on the conflict in the Philippines and the fact that Zulkifli Abdhir was a wanted fugitive.

The maximum penalty for Count One of the indictment, which charges Zulkifli Abdhir and Rahmat Abdhir with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, is 15 years imprisonment. The maximum penalty for Count Two of the indictment, which charges Zulkifli Abdhir and Rahmat Abdhir with providing material support to terrorists, is 15 years imprisonment.

The maximum penalty for Counts Three through Fifteen of the indictment, which charge Rahmat Abdhir with contributing goods and services to a Specially Designated Terrorist, is 20 years imprisonment per count. The penalty for Count Sixteen of the indictment, which charges Rahmat Abdhir with false statements, is eight years imprisonment (maximum if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism).

This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in San Francisco, with assistance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Schmidt of the Northern District of California and Trial Attorney John T. Gibbs of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, Counterterrorism Section.

The public is reminded that the charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
There must be a trove of very valuable intelligence on the MILF and its activities discovered in the course of investigating and prosecuting this case. Law Enforcement in the Philippines, recently armed with an anti-terrorism law in The Human Security Act of 2007, needs to begin the serious work of coordinating with allies and counterparts abroad to disrupt these tight-knit terrorist networks and cells.


Meanwhile, the European Union's Javier Solana, in an interview with the Philippine Star, has indeed reaffirmed the place of the CPP-NPA on the European list of terrorist organizations from which Joma and Co. have been trying to get delisted because the loss of all those juicy donations from rich Euroleft orgs has really put a dent in their revolutionary lifestyles. But to be delisted, according to Mr. Solana, the CPP-NPA are required, "to prove that they have changed their nature.”

Or as Santana might put it, you gotta change your evil ways, Baby!

The CPP NPA has been on both European and American terrorist lists since the beginning in 2001 and 2002. Failing to get delisted on their own merits, the CPP-NPA then demanded that the Philippine Government do it for them! And promptly suspended PEACE TALKS when the government refused to meddle in American and European internal affairs. So has the Abu Sayyaf, and hopefully joining their ranks will be the currently most deserving of the lot: the MILF.

One of the reasons for the durability of these terrorist groups is the intellectual and moral confusion over the issues promoted and sustained by the Left Liberal Establishments. Let's take a really detailed look at the Sunday editorial of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Reckless Warmongering to see what we are really up against here...


PDI: MANILA, Philippines-Yet again, we face a vital test of institutions. The beheading of Philippine Marines in Tipo-Tipo continues to foster a justified outrage, and keeps on producing shocking, even damning, allegations of incompetence on the part of the armed forces. First, there were questions concerning the ammunition provided the troops. Then, more recently, there emerged the equally shocking allegation that the Marines were unable to receive assistance, for lack of a common radio frequency between the men on the ground and the pilots sent to lend them air support.
CAVEAT: Notice how deftly the beheadings are blamed by the editorial, not on the savagery of the MILF-ASG terrorists, but on the "incompetence on the part of the armed forces," on their dud ammo, and their alleged inability to communicate by radio. But it irks the editorialist that this incident "continues to foster a justified outrage" in the public, which the newspaper can't seem to dispel by its profound meditations and banner headlines on the drying up of Angat Dam and the late typhoons. But here's a new innuendo...
PDI: The Marines want revenge. By all accounts, the public is largely foursquare behind the soldiers. We recall an observation made by a TV executive, some months ago. With regard to news and current affairs, the public hates news of the fighting in Mindanao: ratings show that when shows cover that topic, viewers switch channels. The public would much rather keep the fighting in Mindanao out of sight-and out of mind.

But nothing gets public opinion heated up than the massacre of soldiers, and nothing brings out a residual patriotism in the public than a military offensive in Mindanao. And it is very easy for the national leadership to pander to-there's no other word for it-such chauvinism by letting loose the dogs of war.
CAVEAT: The Marines just want revenge, see, and so does the public, the editorial insinuates, despite the fact that they really ought to be switching channels on the whole nasty business by now and just let peace talks be peace talks. If only there wasn't that nasty lil "residual patriotism" for the national leadership to pander to, all these awful chauvinists wouldn't be able to loose the dogs of war, you see! Never mind that Filipinos do have a common sense of human decency that knows nothing of chauvinism or any other fancy French word from sophisticated editorialists. Maybe the ordinary Filipino just does not want to let beheadings be beheadings anymore. Maybe they don't buy PDI's old nostrums that such atrocities can be justified by past atrocities.
PDI: This is why we say the country faces a vital test of institutions. The Marines, sent to rescue a hostaged Italian priest, apparently stumbled onto territory jealously guarded by rebels, who engaged the Marines in a firefight and butchered them when the soldiers were subdued-because their ammunition was defective, their command-and-control ineffectual, and their search-and-rescue proved a suicide charge.

The question is whether a military offensive should proceed on the basis of a bungled operation. Perhaps the public doesn't care why the soldiers died, and only, that they did-and that the rebels must pay. However, the public ought to care that the soldiers, who died bravely, also died senselessly: and that more soldiers' lives will be squandered if the military doesn't get a grip on the causes of the massacre in the first place.
CAVEAT: It is gratuitous for the editorial to call the Marines "brave" and in the same breath, display such a depth of gracelessness as to suggest that they "died senselessly", and that Tipo-tipo was the result of a "bungled operation" to find Fr. Bossi. They literally lost their lives and their heads because "our vital national institutions" allegedly do not understand the causes which impel the poor downtrodden Abu Sayyaf decapitators to engage in massacres and mutilations.

I think it is PDI that should "get a grip" on itself on the causes of the massacre, which they neatly count as two:
PDI: The causes are two. First, the rebels in Mindanao are either disunited (with factions talking peace while others are trying to goad the military into renewed hostilities), or plain insincere about the peace talks, valuing the protection of their territorial enclaves more than the peace process. Second, the armed forces, because of poor generalship, and inefficiency verging on the criminal, are incapable of mounting effective operations, which include supporting troops tasked with missions on the ground. All this, despite the active assistance of allies in the fight against groups like the Abu Sayyaf, once a bandit group but which has now armed itself with a pan-Islamic, radical ideology.
CAVEAT: I guess it really is news to this newspaper that Abu Sayyaf armed itself with pan-Islamic radical ideology after its founders trained under Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, imbibed all of radical Islam in the most radical madrassahs of the Middle East's most violent Islamic sects, in the 1980s and early 90s. Early on, it was funded by the Iraqi agents Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Ramzi Youssef, and various in-laws of Osama bin Laden. But I don't see the connection with the ooogah-booogah beheadings of July 10, unless of course this is just another form of the root causes argument and PDI means to suggest that Tipo Tipo is comeuppance for Bud Bagsak! It is also apparently news to the newspaper that the line of separation between Abu Sayyaf and MILF is a purely theoretical one, most drawn by editorialists like them for political correctness, and peace panel negotiators on both sides to suit political convenience and to whitewash each other's failures and complicity.

But I think something's about to happen that will change a lot of things for MILF.

But PDI is respectable newspaper and would grant respectability to all, even savage beheaders, as follows...
PDI: The same intellectual ferment that produced the First Quarter Storm also gave birth to the concept of a Bangsamoro. President Ferdinand Marcos' delusions of being the conqueror of Sabah resulted in the Jabidah massacre, revolt in Muslim Mindanao and the bloodiest fighting in the country since World War II. The Tripoli Agreement of 1976 established a brittle peace with the Moro National Liberation Front.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front split off as a more radical offshoot, with dreams of a Bangsamoro more patently religious than the fairly secular MNLF. But the MILF has been torn by a further radicalization: dreams of an Islamic state covering the region. The MILF has flirted with the Jemaah Islamiyah, which has a larger goal, represented by Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda: to restore an Islamic caliphate. The Abu Sayyaf belongs to this radical, pan-Islamic regional movement.
CAVEAT: Spit it out! Spit it out!
PDI: Human Rights Watch recently reported that since 2000, more than 1,700 civilians have been killed or wounded in terror attacks, mainly in Mindanao. This is more than the casualties in terror-related activities in Indonesia, or Morocco, Spain, Turkey, or Britain. And yet, our institutions have overlooked a central question: unquestionably popular a military solution might be, among Christians (particularly in Mindanao), the Filipino Muslim voice-particularly those clamoring for peace-has been not only largely drowned out, but also ignored. Yet, who can doubt that a lasting victory against terrorism, and a just peace, are impossible without their support?
CAVEAT: Finally we arrive at the last redoubt of those for whom Protest has morphed into Moral Copout and pacifism is just an excuse to change the subject. A false choice is foisted on the reader as a final bit of emotional blackmail: ALL-OUT WAR or PEACE TALKS, you terrible, terrible warmongering Christians, you, who only want "victory" while the voices of those clamoring for peace are drowned out and ignored!

For PDI you see, it is all OUR fault, both Christians and Muslims, who simply refuse to accept that a "just peace" is impossible without the support of modern warlord-savages whose ancestors were wronged by Legaspi and General Pershing.

I submit that enforcing the anti-terrorism law offers a clear alternative to the path of “war or peace talks” as a general approach to the Mindanao problem, which we must not forget is rooted in historical events and resentments that may never be assuaged because it is hugely profitable for every successive generation of the aggrieved to take up the old grievances.

But where they have adopted dubious or violent means to seek historic redress, and until some kind of settlement is reached, perhaps asymptotically, the Human Security Act simply criminalizes that favorite tactic of the politically disenfranchised: guerilla warfare and terrorism, without depriving them of the peaceful means to achieve their goals, political, ideological or whatever.

Whether they do achieve those goals or not, is not really the concern of the Law on terrorism, however, only that they are deprived of the illicit means they now currently employ. But in as much as they are entitled to rights of all citizens under the constitution, we cannot forcibly deprive them of their lifelong ambitions.

In this way we can avoid the endless cycle of war or peace talks, without so much as getting the permission of the friggin’ MILF and Al Hadj Burat, by upholding the right of anyone to keep their beliefs and goals, while the Law strictly limits their means to the peaceful ones.

Let them labor in the mines of self-determination and electoral politics.

There is no need for peace talks to enforce the law. But the law does not stop the peace talks from going on, same as usual, as they have over the endless, lethal decades.

1 comment:

Tiki said...

Valuable evidence, indeed, especially given the fact that the U.S. also works with or tolerates various clerico-fascist and terrorist groups worldwide. For example, Saudi Arabia, China, and Pakistan are U.S. allies, and the Al Qaeda is allowed to operate in Pakistan.

The U.S. sold weapons to Iran years ago and just recently sold surplus military hardware to them. It also cannot account for thousands of weapons distributed in Iraq.