Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kidnap-for-Ransom From Somalia to Sulu

From Somalia to Sulu, kidnap-for-ransom has become a potent and lucrative weapon. It is the preferred tactic of small organized crime syndicates like the Abu Sayyaf and the Somali pirates to extort not only millions in ransom, but to propagandize for an alleged cause whose inherent unattainability justifies both the last and the next kidnapping-for-ransom operation. Hundreds of Pinoy sailors have already been kidnapped and held for ransom by Somali pirates and the whole nation terrorized by the Abu Sayyaf's daring kidnappings and beheadings, from Sipadan to Dos Palmas to Basilan to Jolo.

The young and dashing ALBADER PARAD has been portrayed as the leader of the Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom gang still holding two Red Cross workers hostage on the island of Jolo in Sulu province. But this made-for-TV jihadi is not really the most dangerous terrorist personality involved here, for there are also several high value Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist leaders with multimillion dollar bounties on their heads who are believed to be running with and controlling the Parad gang and who may now be bottled up in a tightly watched and guarded area along with their two hostages, and fifty heavily armed gun men:
[GMA TV News] Jemaah Islamiyah militants led by Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir also known as Marwan is believed to be among the Abu Sayyaf holding the hostages. Twos, more JI terrorists Dulmatin and Umar Patek are also said to be hiding in Sulu.

Zulkifli, who also heads the Kumpulun Mujahidin Malaysia (KMM), was believed to be involved in multiple deadly bomb attacks in the Philippines and has been added to most-wanted list of the U.S. Rewards for Justice Program.

The U.S. offered as much as $5-million bounty for the capture of Zulkifli and other known Abu Sayyaf leaders, while Dulmatin carries a $10-million reward on his head and $1-million for Patek. Manila also put aside P100-million bounties for the capture of Abu Sayyaf leaders dead or alive.

The one-armed bandit, Radulan Sahiron is also reportedly part of this motley crew of murderers. I think this may explain recent reports of heavy US and Australian support for Philippine forces dealing with the hostaging crisis, which has gained high profile international attention. Not only is this ongoing hostaging of Red Cross workers a violation of Philippine and International Humanitarian Law, there is every reason to hope these dangerous mass murderers and sociopaths will be brought to justice for their dastardly crimes against humanity.

Because no ransom has been forthcoming from the ICRC, including a purported demand for $5 million, the fear is that, today or tomorrow, the bandits could saw off the heads of Andreas Notter and Eugenio Vagni and put the video on the Abu Sayyaf's YouTube fundraising channel. But could the gang and its internationally wanted terrorist leaders then just disappear and escape?

That remains to be seen, but I think the only thing now keeping the two hostages alive must be the uncertainty of escape in the minds of the Abu Sayyaf leaders should they behead them. They must know that they are now being tracked not only by Philippine police and military authorities, but also by the US and Australia, who've been after these particular JI leaders for years. Hopefully every high tech intelligence means to watch their every move in real time

The Door of Observation is momentarily ajar on a classic Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom situation, but with one difference--no ransom appears to be forthcoming. In such a situation, where the hostage takers are threatening to behead their captives, what ought the authorities to do? Surely it is NOT to comply with the demand to open up a path for escape [sic!] On the contrary I think the authorities must make escape impossible and make it crystal clear that AS SOON AS the terrorists make a move to kill or harm their hostages, an attempt to defend and rescue those hostages will instantly be launched and measures taken to prevent such action, including the forceful neutralization of any suspect who does not immediately surrender.

There is a lesson in both principles and tactics that we can learn from the US Navy Seals in the successful rescue of an American sea captain from Somali pirates. In that instance, the ability to know in real time what the kidnappers were doing or intending to do was essential to taking the action that freed that hostage. He could just as easily have ended up dead of course, but for the skill and good luck of those three snipers. However, it also sends an important message to future pirate-kidnappers of a kind of "mutually assured destruction" should they they decide to kill their hostages. The authority to act in defense of hostages that are adjudged to be in imminent danger of being seriously harmed or killed, had been given to the commander on the ground by President Barack Obama, and the successful outcome has been credited to his leadership as well as to the professionalism of the US Navy personnel involved.

I think this is applicable to the Sulu hostage crisis.

4 comments:

john marzan said...

There is a lesson in both principles and tactics that we can learn from the US Navy Seals in the successful rescue of an American sea captain from Somali pirates. but the flexing of US muscle didnt deter the pirates.

after that rescue of the US captain, three more ships were boarded by somali "wants a cracker" pirates within 24 hours.

manilabaywatch said...

Kidnapping, hostage taking: ransom or no ransom?I rather like what Manuel Buencamino proposes, i.e., pay up, then run after them, and put them out of their misery.

The method has been tried and tested and it worked! You see, a few months ago (or was it last year), a French yacht was pirated by Somali pirates. A special French commando was dispatched posthaste by no less than President Nicolas Sarkozy to the Somali waters, killed the pirates and rescued their French captives alive. (The Americans most certainly used the same French methodology.)

But know what? Two more French vessels had a run-in with Somali pirates. And so, what do you reckon happened? The French paid ransom. After ransom was paid, the French commando ran after the Somali pirates, killed a few bandits to make sure they would never spend a dime, arrested many of other Somali pirates. And guess what? Ever since those three incidents, Somali pirates now refuse to attack vessels flying the French flag. (Oh, I'm sure they will try again but, heck we will run after them again and put as many of them as possible out of their misery...)

Why, even the all-American magazine Newsweek, in its latest issue, is quite all agog over the French methodology of combatting this hostage for ransom industry.

It will take a lot more than SEALs and snipers to defend global shipping and American prestige. What Obama can learn from the French.There you are Dean! If the Americans are expected to learn a few lessons from the French, I bet, the Philippines should or can follow suit ...

john marzan said...

But know what? Two more French vessels had a run-in with Somali pirates. And so, what do you reckon happened? The French paid ransom. After ransom was paid, the French commando ran after the Somali pirates, killed a few bandits to make sure they would never spend a dime, arrested many of other Somali pirates. And guess what? Ever since those three incidents, Somali pirates now refuse to attack vessels flying the French flag. (Oh, I'm sure they will try again but, heck we will run after them again and put as many of them as possible out of their misery...)

i like the french idea, but will it work with the abu sayyaf? the problem with applying this solution in mindanao is that there are large swathes of land there that are "no go zones" and the military has a hard time capturing the abus even if we know already some of their identities.

i prefer the more "out of the box" tried and tested tactic of letting christian vigilantes kidnap the relatives of abu sayyaf and exchanging them for the hostages.

and as for the french, i like them more now that sarkozy is their president, but sarkozy lately doesn't think much of obama's leadership.

AdB said...

John,

"but will it work with the abu sayyaf? "

Must admit, the Abu Sayyaff hostaging situation is a bit tricky... as you rightly say, there's the jungle to hide in.

The trickier part, even if some of the French way is feasible despite the Abu terrain to cover, is the unreliability of local support!

At least in Somalia waters, you know it's good v bad. In Philippine topography, you don't know which is which.

I guess what can be done is to pay up, then when the hostages are safely tuck in a safe place, bombard the Abu lair. Tant pis for the rest, eg., governors, local politicians, henchmen, Nelson Allaga, etc., etc., let them get buried under the rubble!

As for Sarkozy being critical of Obama -- I understand why (so am I, I've been a bit critical of Obama lately although not blogging it yet): Obama is putting his foot in his mouth when he tells the Turks (whose miniscule territory in the Thrace happens to be on the European border) that he is supporting Turkey's entry into the exclusive club of the EU.

I mean, WTF! What if Sarkozy, Merkel or some other European chief executive went to Mexico and told them Mexicans that he/she supported their entry/membership into the Union (US of A), how would Americans react. There would surely be an outrage.

Anyway, that's a very minor point -- I also believe the media is making a mountain out of a moehill.