portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article

Abu Sayyaf on the rebound

An unfortunate development.
EDITORIAL - Abu Sayyaf on the rebound

The Philippine Star 09/25/2002


It's easy to see why many Filipinos welcome the presence of American soldiers in the Philippines. Less than two months have passed since US soldiers ended the "Balikatan" war exercises with Philippine troops in Basilan, where Abu Sayyaf guerrillas served as live targets. During the six-month war games the guerrillas failed to launch any major attack on the island, and even the faction in nearby Sulu kept a low profile. Before the war exercises ended, flamboyant Abu Sayyaf spokesman Aldam Tilao, alias Abu Sabaya, was shot in a sea encounter with pursuing Philippine troops, reportedly with assistance from the Americans. The two governments insist Sabaya is dead.

Within a month after the Americans left, the Abu Sayyaf, reportedly under the leadership of some guerrillas who had fled Basilan, resumed kidnapping in Sulu. Two male victims were beheaded; four women remain in captivity. Yesterday military and police forces went on alert in Basilan amid reports that the Abu Sayyaf was threatening to kidnap teachers and students in retaliation for an ongoing military offensive to wipe out the remnants of the terrorist group. The threat was passed on to authorities by Basilan Gov. Wahab Akbar.

It would not be the first time that the Abu Sayyaf would target students and teachers. Schools are easy prey for the gunmen, and the teachers and students serve as perfect human shields for fleeing guerrillas. A few years ago the terrorists waylaid a group of teachers in Basilan, freeing the Muslims and executing the 15 Christians. The terrorists have decapitated male victims and lopped off the breasts of women teachers.

Now the terrorists are back, just two months after they were driven away from strife-torn Basilan. The military has a self-imposed deadline of six months to neutralize the Abu Sayyaf threat. That deadline must be met, before the Abu Sayyaf problem gets out of hand again. This was what Basilan residents had feared all along - that the terrorists would return as soon as the Americans were gone. Our troops must reassure the residents that there is no basis for their fears.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

homepage: homepage: http://www.philstar.com/philstar/index.htm

Or we could have just left them alone, huh? 25.Sep.2002 11:49

No-Doz Bukowski

Does it strike you as strange that a small band of revolutionaries would resort to desperate measures after being used as "living targets" in a training exercise? I mean, read that article with a little critical observation - for how long did the U.S. and Phillipine governments chase these poor bastards around shooting at them, while they "maintained a low profile" and tried to run away? Every period of Abu Sayaff terrorism has been in the wake of major acts of aggression against them. Sure, their methods are barbaric and indefensible; but they weren't causing any trouble when we started hunting them down and killing them as a way of training Phillipine soldiers. As usual, the actions of the U.S. have only served to foster and encourage terrorism, not to stop or even deter it. I bet we sold them the damn rifles they're using to take those kids hostage, too.

5000. - N.

Their methods are barbaric and indefensible?? 25.Sep.2002 12:21

No Doz should be no gray matter....

You really stand behind your statement that..."they weren't causing any trouble when we started hunting them down and killing them as a way of training Phillipine soldiers"???

You've got to be kidding- right?

These people have been terrorizing and killing the innocent people of their own country for years! They also have been kidnapping tourists, village officials, missionaries and local government officials and holding them for ransom long before any US involvement at all. Sometimes they would release their prisoners after payment of ransom but as often as not, they executed them. Their favorite method was, and is, beheading.

You want to look the other way??? Get a life- somewhere else- but get a life!!

No-Doz is misinformed 25.Sep.2002 13:05

Me

No-Doz, your spirited defense of the Abu Sayyaf would be laughable if it weren't so depressing. They have a long history of being bandits long before the US got there. Do a search on Guillermo Sobero (who was beheaded by the group on June 12, 2001), or the Burnham missionary couple.

You probably don't want to believe it but the US military acted as a much-needed, largely well-received force in Mindanao. As an interesting side note, the left-leaning "Peace" group who came to Mindanao to interview the locals and "feel their pain" was heckled to no end by the locals. They also had stones thrown at them on several occasions. I find that amusing.

Quotes from the article support my claims 25.Sep.2002 14:49

No-Doz Bukowski

"Less than two months have passed since US soldiers ended the "Balikatan" war exercises with Philippine troops in Basilan, where Abu Sayyaf guerrillas served as live targets. During the six-month war games the guerrillas failed to launch any major attack on the island, and even the faction in nearby Sulu kept a low profile. Before the war exercises ended, flamboyant Abu Sayyaf spokesman Aldam Tilao, alias Abu Sabaya, was shot in a sea encounter with pursuing Philippine troops, reportedly with assistance from the Americans."


Did you get all that? The US sent in armed forces to help the Phillipino army with training exercises, "war games". Rather than doing this in the old-fashioned paintball way like we do in the US, we actually went on raid with live ammunition and killed members of Abu Sayyaf. During this entire six-month engagement, Abu Sayyaf "failed to launch any major attack on the island". Nonetheless, their leader "was shot in a sea encounter with pursuing Phillipine troops". Like, they were chasing him in a boat, and he was running away, so they shot him.

I know Abu Sayyaf is a malicious and violent organization, historically. At the time of these lethal training exercises, they were not engaged in any aggressive activity, and they did not respond with any. When the soldiers came, these guys ran away and got shot in the back. Now that the U.S. soldiers have swung through town and destabilized everything, Abu Sayyaf has gone back to their old ways of kidnapping and murder. And that's what happens every time the U.S. tries to play superhero - we send in a bunch of soldiers, they kill a bunch of people, then we leave the host country to deal with the consequences.

"Me" tells us that " the US military acted as a much-needed, largely well-received force in Mindanao." Well, judging by what this article has to say, Mindanao was at peace when the Americans got there, but now they're plagued by violence and terrorism. Is that what they really needed, or is it possible that a more tactful solution could have been reached that would have addressed the views of both sides in the Phillipines and helped to achieve a lasting, equitable peace? I guess we'll never know, because we just sent over a bunch of guys with guns to use human beings for target practice.

Oh, and that was a pretty clever remark about "No Grey Matter". It's a wonder the resistance ever gets anything done with all those crackerjack minds working against us.


5000. - N.