US-led AFP bombs jungle camp, but no proof of JI leaders claimed to have been killed presented

Looks like another US-Philippine terrorism spin. With Obama desperately needing a war to divert Americans’ attention from the elections and the drab economy, the US is saber-rattling everywhere – Iran, Syria, China, North Korea, etc. And now, even Mindanao is not spared. It is, after all, part of USA’s “War on Terror” (the endless, borderless, leaderless, faceless war).

So, in the dead of night when everybody’s asleep, the US led the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in bombing an alleged camp in the middle of a jungle in Sulu. And then, the AFP triumphantly announced that they killed some 30 outlaws of the Abu Sayyaf Group including leading terrorists of the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyyah (JI) – a Malaysian named Zulkifli bin Hir, or Marwan that carries a price of US$ 5 million on his head (courtesy of FBI) and a Singaporean named Abdullah Ali alias Muawiyah, who has a bounty of US$ 50,000 (courtesy of US govt again) .

WANTED by FBI with US$5 Million bounty

But then, where are the bodies of these so-called JI terrorists wanted by the US government? Well, you see, the bodies of these Muslim terrorists have the supernatural ability of changing appearances when they die. That is why they have to be buried immediately or thrown into the sea immediately (like Osama bin Laden). If these bodies are not disposed of immediately, people might mistakenly identify these bodies.

In law, for murder to have been committed, there must be a body that has been murdered. But it seems that the US and Philippine military units have managed to extricate themselves from such burdens of proof. Time and again, terrorists are claimed to have been killed by these troops, yet bodies had not been presented for a variety of reasons (excuses).

So, the media shouldn’t waste time thinking they could ever get to shoot (a photo) of the body. Like in Osama Bin Laden’s case, they could expect a photoshopped image instead.

Incidentally, the latest sequel of The Bourne Legacy film series is now being filmed in the Philippines. I wonder if the military got any tips from the filmmakers on creating their script or even constructing some props in the middle of the jungle, if any

Filipino troops still search for terrorist 
(philstar.com) Updated February 03, 2012 03:11 PM

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The remains of a top leader of the regional Jemaah Islamiyah terror network have not been found, the Philippine military said Friday, a day after announcing that he had been killed in a US-backed airstrike.

Troops on the ground were still combing the jungle camp that was hit Thursday for the body of Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, said regional military spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang.

Military officials said at least 15 people were killed in the dawn strike on a militant camp on remote southern Jolo Island, including two other high-level leaders. A military spokesman in Manila, Col. Marcelo Burgos, initially reported that Marwan was among them.

Marwan’s death would mark a major success in disrupting a militant network blamed for some of the most spectacular bombing attacks in Southeast Asia in recent years. But if the initial report proves incorrect, it would turn a largely successful strike into at least a partial embarrassment for the Philippine military, while burnishing the reputation of the elusive terrorist.

The US has offered a $5 million reward for the capture of Marwan, a US-trained engineer accused of involvement in deadly bombings in the Philippines and in training militants.

Cabangbang, who is based in southern Zamboanga city, from where the bomber planes in Thursday’s strike took off, said that the military’s announcement of Marwan’s killing was based on information provided by informants. He refused to elaborate, saying it would compromise their intelligence assets.

“We are still searching. Our troops are still there,” Cabangbang said.

He suggested that the blast could have obliterated Marwan’s body, saying the process of verification linked to the possible disbursement of the reward money to informants will be “more tedious” and could include DNA testing.

Two Philippine security officials with knowledge of the airstrike who spoke to The Associated Press also said Marwan’s body was not found, though bombs shattered the house where he was believed to have been.

One of the officials confirmed the deaths of the other two other high-level leaders: Umbra Jumdail, who led the Philippine-based Abu Sayyaf militant group, and a Singaporean leader in Jemaah Islamiyah, Abdullah Ali, who used the guerrilla name Muawiyah. The other official confirmed only the death of Jumdail, also known as Dr. Abu Pula, and his son.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

Cabangbang said the decision to announce the killings, including that of Marwan, was made by the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Gen. Jessie Dellosa, after he was briefed by commanders.

“There are details that we cannot divulge because of operational security,” he said when pressed for details.

A US official in Washington confirmed the strike on Jolo Island, an impoverished region 600 miles (950 kilometers) south of Manila, and said the Pentagon provided assistance in one of the region’s most successful anti-terror operations in years. The strike debilitated a regional militant network that has relied on the restive southern Philippines — sometimes called Southeast Asia’s Afghanistan — as a headquarters for planning bombings and a base for training and recruitment.

About 30 militants were at the camp near Parang town on Jolo, the stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf and their allies from the mostly Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiyah, when it was bombarded by two OV10 aircraft dropping 500-pound (227-kilogram) bombs at 3 a.m., regional military commander Maj. Gen. Noel Coballes said.

“Our report is there were at least 15 killed, including their three leadership,” he said. “This is a deliberate, fully planned attack coming from our forces.”

The rest of the militants escaped and no one was captured, Coballes said.

American counterterrorism troops have helped ill-equipped Filipino troops track Marwan for years using satellite and drone surveillance. About 600 US special forces troops have been deployed in the southern Philippines since 2002, providing crucial support for the Philippines’ counterterrorism operations. US-backed Philippine offensives have been credited for the capture and killing of hundreds of Abu Sayyaf fighters and most top leaders since the 1990s.

In Washington, a US official, speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record about the operation, confirmed the Pentagon had aided the strike. He was not specific about the contribution and did not know how many people had been killed in the operation.

Marwan’s death would represent the most important success against Jemaah Islamiyah since the January 2011 arrest of Indonesian suspect Umar Patek in Pakistan’s garrison town of Abbottabad, where Osama bin Laden was killed in a US commando attack four months later.

Patek and Marwan allegedly collaborated with the Abu Sayyaf in training militants in bomb-making skills, seeking funding locally and abroad and plotting attacks, including against American troops in the southern Philippines.

Patek is believed to have returned to Indonesia then gone to Pakistan, leaving Marwan to take charge in the southern Philippines, military officials say.

The attack in Jolo also represents a huge blow to the Abu Sayyaf’s ability to recover from years of setbacks through fund raising and training of militants.

The Philippine air force dropped four bombs from two planes, said Maj. Gen. Jose Villarete, head of the 3rd Air Division based at an air force base in Zamboanga city.

Abu Sayyaf is behind numerous ransom kidnappings, bomb attacks and beheadings that have terrorized the Philippines for more than two decades.

Jumdail had eluded troops in numerous offensives and emerged as a key figure in the radical movement.

Most recently, all three of the militant leaders were among the prime suspects in the kidnappings of three Red Cross workers from Switzerland, Italy and the Philippines in 2009. The hostages regained their freedom months later.

Abu Sayyaf militants, numbering about 400 by military estimates, are still considered a key threat to regional security and are suspected in the kidnapping of a former Australian soldier, as well as a Malaysian, a Japanese and an Indian.

On Wednesday, gunmen in nearby Tawi-Tawi island province seized Dutch and Swiss tourists. Officials said they were trying to move the hostages to Jolo.

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A saga of all-out euphemisms vs peace, the Moro and the ordinary people

(http://bulatlat.com)

By MARYA SALAMAT
Bulatlat.com

When it comes to addressing the conflict in Mindanao, nothing has really changed in Philippine government policy despite the change from one president and administration to another. It has always been consistently “militarist,” said Neil V. Murad, secretary-general of Suara Bangsamoro (Voice of the People). This dogged militarist approach, he said, victimizes the very people it is supposed to protect – the civilians.

The intensified military aggression in Mindanao today “clearly reveals the President’s mangled concept of justice. His pronouncements attempt to camouflage but his actions clearly exposes the brutality of the government’s Oplan Bayanihan,” said Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Emmi De Jesus in a statement.

Whatever name you decide to call a war, its consequences remain the same, said Murad, as he warned against yet another looming all-out war in Mindanao, and the injustice “this purportedly ‘just’ campaign to redeem the honor” of at least 19 killed special action forces of the Philippine Army.

The Suara Bangsamoro condoles with the families and relatives of the 19 soldiers killed in the October 18 armed encounter between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Basilan. But they cautioned the government especially the AFP against using this incident “as pretext for the aggression against civilian-populated communities in Zamboanga Sibugay and Basilan.”

“If you are hunting for a handful of ‘lawless elements,’ why bomb entire communities?” asked Murad.

Suara Bangsamoro asked the government and the “sensationalist media” not to prey on the grief and misery caused by the death of 19 soldiers just to present as “righteous” and “just” the intensified military aggression against civilian communities.

An all-out war under any other name is an “all-out injustice,” said the Voice of the Moro Nation. They add that another all-out war can only breed further injustice, human rights violations, loss of lives, destruction of livelihood, and will push any prospect for peace in Mindanao further back.

Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep. De Jesus said they also grieve with the mothers of the slain soldiers and they also call for justice for them, but they are pushing more to “affirm that peace negotiations, rather than this militaristic all-out-justice campaign.”

“We call on the Philippine government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) panels to convene and respect agreements and obligations to stop the fighting and alleviate its impact on the civilian population,” said Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus.

Series of all-out wars under different names

There has been a series of “all-out” something in addressing the raging conflict in Mindanao. “Under Erap, it was “all-out war.” Under GMA, it became “all-out peace.” Now, under Pnoy, it has become “all-out justice,” Murad recalled. But all these “all-outs,” in reality, are wars launched against the BangsaMoro, and it reportedly continues to inflict destruction and rights violations among the BangsaMoro people up to now.

Under Erap’s ‘all out war’ in 2000, Murad said, some 200,000 people had been displaced, and another 100 civilians were either killed or illegally arrested and tortured. Under GMA’s “all out peace,” Murad recalled that two major wars against the MILF were launched. One in 2003 and another in 2008. These wars led to at least 750,000 internally displaced people, making the Philippines the number one in the world in terms of number of displaced persons.

As of April 2011, Murad said there are more than 125,000 long-term internally displaced persons still languishing in government camps all over Mindanao.

And now, under President Aquino’s “all-out justice,” Gen. Eduardo Oban reportedly reasoned that in order to “translate the directives of the President into operational goals,” a second day of airstrikes was launched by the Philippine Air Force on various communities in Zamboanga Sibugay.

As of Oct 26, entire communities are being bombed and tens of thousands of villagers are fleeing their homes as the AFP pursues their target “lawless elements.” Some 20,000 residents of Zamboanga Sibugay and Basilan had reportedly been forced to evacuate.