Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rajah Sulaiman Movement Owns Up To Makati Mall Terrorist Attack

(UPDATED 10/22) Please check later posts on this developing topic at Philippine Commentary. The news report on which this post was based contained statements later found by ABSCBN News to be inaccurate or misleading enough for the network itself to falsify the claim of responsibility for the Oct 19 Makati mall blast, including the identity of the claimant.

ABSCBN News is reporting that it has received a text message from the spokesman of an Islamist terror organization claiming responsibility for the deadly bomb explosion in a Makati City shopping mall yesterday which killed 9 and injured over 120.
A person who claimed to be the spokesman of the Rajah Sulayman Movement (RSM) on Saturday said the group was responsible for Friday’s attack in Makati City that left nine people dead and scores of others injured.

In a text message to ABS-CBN News, the person who said he was RSM spokesman Ruben Omar Lavilla, alias Sheik Omar, demanded the release of founder Hilarion del Rosario Santos, alias Ahmed Santos, within 24 hours or the group will launch a similar attack targeting public places and vital installations.

RSM is a terror organization whose members are allegedly composed of Christians who have converted to Islam and reportedly operates in Manila and northern Luzon. It was suspected of carrying out the Rizal bombing in 2000 and Valentine’s Day bombings in 2004.

"Jihad (holy war) against the Christians will continue if the military will not stop the killings of Muslims in Mindanao and Ahmed Santos should be released within 24 hours, otherwise, [Christians will] suffer again the consequences," he said.

In June, 2006, the U.S. Embassy and the US Rewards for Justice Program awarded US$500,000 to two informants for their assistance in the arrest of the former leader and founder of the Rajah Sulaiman Movement, Hilarion Ahmed Santos. In the text message, RSM is said to be demanding the release of this individual.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism has the authoritative background on the terrorist group which is affiliated with the Abu Sayyaf Group and was most infamously involved in the Super Ferry 14 bombing and sinking:
The RSM has assisted with the terrorist plots of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Manila and ther areas in the northern Philippines. It was involved in ASG's bombing of SuperFerry 14 in February 2004 and the February 2005 Valentine's Day bombings, according to Philippine security officials. In 2005, however, the RSM suffered several major setbacks. In March, Philippine security forces seized more than 1,300 pounds of explosives from an RSM safe house in metropolitan Manila. In October, Philippine intelligence agents arrested RSM leader Ahmad Santos in Zamboanga City and charged him with plotting to bomb high profile targets, including the U.S. Embassy in Manila. Two months later, Philippine security forces arrested another RSM leader in Zamboanga City. Philippine officials subsequently claimed that debriefings of these captives helped them thwart an alleged RSM plot to conduct attacks in Manila during the Christmas holiday season.
Philippine Commentary has followed the lethal career of this particular offshoot of the Global Jihad in several posts over the years:

The Julius Babao Affair and the Missing Terrorist
Why Gloria Denied That Super Ferry 14 Was A Terrorist Attack

Hmmm...seems very neat and convenient that the reported text message includes a clearly unlawful DEMAND by the group for the government to release the terror group's leader, a matter that National Security Adviser, Norberto Gonzales, fussed about yesterday as missing from the Makati City blast tableu, while talking to media yesterday. With this demand, if verified and confirmed, it would seem that all three elements required by the definition of a terrorist crime under the Human Security Act of 2007 now exists. This means, yesterday's bombing IS terrorist act and may be prosecuted under the Act. My own Definition of Terrorism is here. I argue that an explicit terrorist demand is not required by Republic Act 9372 for every specific component act of a terrorist organization but may be construed from the overall objectives and pattern of its activities. It bothered me yesterday that NSA Gonzales does not appreciate this aspect of the definition.

(20:00) Eid Kabbalu of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has come on television to offer their help in investigating the Makati Mall Bombing. The MILF could start by surrendering the MILF ambush killers of those 14 Marines on Basilan last July, with ten of them beheaded.

(21:00) ABSCBN News has a follow up report on efforts by national security officials to establish the veracity of the claim of responsibility for the Makati mall explosion and the identity of the former University of the Philippines professor claiming to be the spokesman of the Rajah Sulayman Movement.

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