Monday, March 2, 2015

Bomb factory captured in Mamasapano – military

From Rappler (Mar 2): Bomb factory captured in Mamasapano – military

A certain BIFF leader Mohammad Tambako, the owner of the encampment where bomb materials were discovered, is one of Basit Usman's protectors

BREAKAWAY GROUP: Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters members, some of them minors, are seen inside their camp in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town Maguindanao in this picture taken on September 2012
BREAKAWAY GROUP: Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters members, some of them minors, are seen inside their camp in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town Maguindanao in this picture taken on September 2012

The military said it captured a factory of improvised explosives operated by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao, in the continuing all out offensive against the breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Bomb components – such as mortar fuses, ammonium nitrate, blasting caps, and tie wires – were reportedly discovered in an encampment in Barangay Dasikil, located near the site of deadly clashes that killed on January 25 Jemaah Islamiyah top terrorist Zulkifli bin hir or "Marwan" but also 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.

"Our troops successfully seized a bomb-making facility after assaulting the enemy positions. The enemy was able to escape, but the equipment and materials that are used to fabricate home-made bombs were left behind," Colonel Melquiades Feliciano, commander of the Army 601st Infantry Brigade that is leading the military offensive, said on Monday, March 2.

Marwan is an expert bombmaker who trained terrorists in Mindanao. In the wake of his death, calls were made to hunt down his trainees as well.

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara is among those raising the alarm. "Because Marwan, after being driven out of Malaysia, sought refuge in camps run by the alphabet soup of rebel groups in Mindanao, then we have to assume that he trained many people. The graduates of his workshops must not be allowed to put what they learned from him to use," Angara said on Monday.

Aquino's promise

The military has intensified offensives against the BIFF following President Benigno Aquino III's promise in a televised address that the government will hunt down BIFF bombmaker Basit Usman.

The military said a certain BIFF leader Mohammad Tambako, the owner of the encampment where bomb materials were discovered, is one of Usman's protectors. BIFF leader Kagi Karialan, who has at least 100 men with him, is the other.

"Several tipsters have spotted Usman in the bailiwicks of these cohorts," the military said.

Both Tambako and Karialan are blamed for violent attacks in Maguindanao and nearby provinces that have displaces tens of thousands.

As of latest count, at least 5,700 families or nearly 30,000 individuals have been displaced by the fighting. The military claims 9 BIFF members were killed in the continuing offensive in Maguindanao alone, while 3 soldiers were wounded.

Usman was the target secondary to Marwan in the January 25 operations. He was wounded but was able to escape, according to the military.

It was Usman who coddled Marwan in Mamasapano, an area believed to be controlled by the MILF but where their former comrades who set up BIFF also reside. The BIFF is composed mostly of former MILF members who oppose the peace process. (READ: MILF: We didn't coddle Marwan, Usman)

The MILF is cooperating with the military in the offensive against their former comrades, many of them also relatives.

5 more international terrorists?

Usman is now believed to be in the run along with at least 5 foreign nationals believed to be members of international terrorist groups.

They are coddled by "small bands of notorious bandits from two different BIFF groups" in the remote villages of Shariff Saydona and Mamasapano towns, according to Armed Forces public affairs officer Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc.

"Five foreign nationals, who are believed to be members of an international terrorist organization, were seen moving with Usman as they evaded their pursuers," Cabunoc said.

http://www.rappler.com/nation/85516-bomb-factory-captured-mamasapano

Abu Sayyaf leader pleads 'not guilty' to kidnapping

From Rappler (Mar 2): Abu Sayyaf leader pleads 'not guilty' to kidnapping

Khair Mundos, a 'key leader and financier' of the Abu Sayyaf Group, also has cases involving murder, frustrated murder, and money laundering

CAUGHT. Philippine police arrest Khair Mundos, who was previously arrested for facilitating the transfer of funds from the al-Qaida to Abu Sayyaf Group leader Khadaffy Janjalani. Photo courtesy of the PNP PIO
CAUGHT. Philippine police arrest Khair Mundos, who was previously arrested for facilitating the transfer of funds from the al-Qaida to Abu Sayyaf Group leader Khadaffy Janjalani. Photo courtesy of the PNP PIO



Khair Mundos, considered a “leader” of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, pleaded “not guilty” to kidnapping charges filed against him.

On Monday, March 2, Mundos entered his not guilty plea before Judge Gregorio dela Peña III of the Regional Trial Court Branch 12 in Zamboanga city.

A pre-trial was ordered by Dela Peña following Mundos’ plea. The trial, specifically the presentation of evidence, is scheduled on Tuesday, March 3, at 2 pm.

Mundos, tagged a “key leader and financier” of the Abu Sayyaf was nabbed by Philippine police in June 2014 after an almost 7-year manhunt. Mundos, at the time of his arrest, had standing warrants of arrest for multiple murder, multiple frustrated, and multiple attempted murder.

The US State Department had offered $500,000 for information leading to his arrest, under its “Rewards for Justice” program.

Mundos had been jailed before in 2004 for money laundering. He was, however, able to escape the Kidapawan provincial jail in February 2007. Prior to his escape, Mundos admitted he facilitated the transfer of funds from the al-Qaeda to Abu Sayyaf Group leader Khadaffy Janjalani.

The money, the US State Department said, was used in “bombings and other criminals acts” in Mindanao.

http://www.rappler.com/nation/85534-khair-mundos-abu-sayyaf

AFP says bomb maker Basit Usman enjoying BIFF safe havens

From InterAksyon (Mar 2): AFP says bomb maker Basit Usman enjoying BIFF safe havens



Bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman.

The Jemaah Islamiyah (JI)-trained bomber Abdul Basit Usman is being coddled by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) as government troops continued offensives against the renegade rebel force that has led to the capture a bomb factory in Barangay Dasikil, Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, Public Affairs Office (PAO) chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said Monday field reports indicated that small armed bands from two distinct BIFF groups are protecting Usman.

"A certain Mohammad Ali Tambako of Mamasapano town is said to be one of Usman's current protectors. He is a BIFF leader who took part in violent atrocities against civilians both in Maguindanao and Cotabato," Cabunoc said, citing a report by Col. Melquiades Feliciano, commander of the Army's 601st Infantry Brigade.

According to Feliciano, advancing soldiers were able to capture "a factory of improvised bombs" in Dasikil.

"Our troops successfully seized a bomb-making facility after assaulting the enemy positions. The enemy was able to escape but the equipment and materials that are used to fabricate home-made bombs were left behind," Feliciano said.

He disclosed that vital components for assembling the improvised bombs, such as mortar fuses, ammonium nitrate, blasting caps and tie wires were recovered from the site.

It was in Mamasapano where 44 police commandos were massacred on January 25 by hundreds of combined fighters of the BIFF and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The Special Action Force (SAF) commandos were withdrawing after reportedly neutralizing international terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir (nom de guerre Marwan), a Malaysian and top leader of JI, when waylaid by overwhelming numbers of the force.

The SAF operation failed to neutralize the wounded Usman, who, together with some of his men were able to escape.

Earlier, BIFF spokesman Abu Misry Mama had repeatedly denied that they knew Marwan and Usman.

For its part, the MILF, through its chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, denied that they were coddling Marwan and Usman, even as persistent military and police intelligence reports said terrorists and some other private armed groups were "peacefully co-existing" with the BIFF ad MILF.

The MILF had expelled the leaders and followers of BIFF for not supporting the peace talks with the government.

Another BIFF commander, identified as Kagi Karialan, reputedly the most trusted aide of BIFF founder Ameril Umbra Kato, is also said to be coddling up to five foreign terrorists, the military said.

Cabunoc said Karialan has least 100 armed men under his command.

"He led the attack on MILF communities and civilian communities nearby in Kabasalan and Bulol, both in Pikit, Cotabato in two separate occasions, displacing at least 25,000 people," Cabunoc said. "Several tipsters have spotted Usman in the bailiwicks of these cohorts. Five foreign nationals who are believed to be members of an international terrorist organization, were seen moving with Usman as they evaded their pursuers."

Presently, the military said, at least 5,700 affected families have been displaced from their homes in the wake of the renewed offensives against BIFF.

"The AFP has, so far, counted 9 members of the BIFF killed in the recent law enforcement operations in Maguindanao. Three soldiers were also wounded in the fighting," Cabunoc said.

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/106083/afp-says-bomb-maker-basit-usman-enjoying-biff-safe-havens

28,685 affected by military offensive - ARMM

From InterAksyon (Mar 2): 28,685 affected by military offensive - ARMM



Displaced people in Maguindanao line up for various relief goods, 2 March 2015. PHOTO FROM THE OFFICE OF THE CIVIL DEFENSE

Around 5,725 families or 28,685 people have been internally displaced by the current military offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao.

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and other local government units have been able to provide assistance to the displaced, but the current offensives have rendered such assistance difficult to provide, said Atty. Laisa Alamia, ARMM executive secretary.

Apart from the people who are now housed in evacuation sites, farm animals also have to be evacuated due to the fighting.

Some civilians have complained of lost belongings left in their homes.

Thousands of students from seven Maguindanao towns have also been affected.

Despite the confusing situation, the BIFF said the military appears to be only wasting their bullets. According to BIFF spokesman Abu Misri Mama, no BIFF rebel has been hit by the military mortars and cannons.

The BIFF said three soldiers have been wounded and two tanks have been destroyed.

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/106065/28685-affected-by-military-offensive---armm

5 aliens among targets in all-out offensive in Maguindanao

From MindaNews (Mar 2): 5 aliens among targets in all-out offensive in Maguindanao

Military and police authorities in Maguindanao are hunting down four “Indonesians” and an “Arab-looking chemist” who were reportedly hiding in the province with Filipino bomb making expert Basit Usman, officials said on Saturday.

Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, 6th Infantry Division commander made the announcement after meeting with local officials at the division headquarters in this town.

Citing intelligence information, Pangilinan said the four suspected foreigners were seen with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao.

He said the Army is closely monitoring them in the SPMS Box, a military term referring to the towns of Shariff Aguak, Pagatin (Datu Saudi), Mamasapano and Salibo (Shariff Saydona) complex where the BIFF presence is reportedly strong.

The Army, Marines and police jointly launched operations against the BIFF in Barangay Maitumaig, Datu Saudi Ampatuan Friday which led to the temporary closure of a major road network for about six hours.

“We are running after relentlessly these foreign nationals. They are with Basit Usman and in the company of BIFF, because the MILF will not coddle these terrorists, I presume,” Pangilinan told reporters after meeting with Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and mayors of the province.

“I also have that information about this foreign Arab-looking man in the company of the BIFF and Usman’s group. I hope after this meeting the civilians and local officials will help report to authorities their presence in their communities,” Mangudadatu said.

“I appeal to our local people, down to the communities. We should help prevent these lawless people, these extremists who are making our lives difficult. Please join hands with the authorities to locate these people,” the governor added.

Both Mangudadatu and Pangilinan said the “foreigners” have been teaching “radical Islam” in madrasah and before young Maguindanaons.

“In madrasah, Basit Usman was a good speaker on fundamentalism and Islamic radicalism that is why he could easily dupe young ones,” Pangilinan said.

“Most of those who engaged the military there were not fighters. They were children as young as 10 to 15 years old,” Pangiliman said referring to the Army offensive in Camp Omar in 2012 in Datu Saudi Ampatuan and Datu Unsay towns, Maguindanao.

Both Pangilinan and Mangudadatu lambasted the BIFF for using allegedly using minors as combatants and civilians as human shields.

The BIFF allegedly attempted to close the highway yesterday by planting an improvised explosive device near the residential area in Maitumaig, but it was immediately defused by military bomb experts.

Last Friday’s offensive against the BIFF in Datu Unsay and Datu Saudi Ampatuan forced 3,000 civilians to flee.

Anwar Malang, Interior and Local Governments Secretary in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao urged the towns of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Datu Unsay and Shariff Aguak to declare a state of calamity to hasten delivery of assistance to the displaced families.

http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2015/03/02/5-aliens-among-targets-in-all-out-offensive-in-maguindanao/

Sunday, March 1, 2015

12 boats from US for Sabah security command

From Free Malaysia Today (Feb 28): 12 boats from US for Sabah security command

Contribution being made under agreements during Obama's visit to Malaysia.

SANDAKAN: The Eastern Sabah Security Command is getting 12 boats from the United States of America to boost its asset strength.

Defence Deputy Minister Abdul Rahim Bakri said the contribution followed a number of agreements signed between Malaysia and the US last year.

The agreements was signed during US President Barack Obama’s visit to the country, he told reporters after visiting the Pulau Berhala army camp near here.

He said the boats were currently being modified according to Esscom’s specifications.

Abdul Rahim, who is also Kudat member of parliament, said a proposal to build an army camp in Kudat, under the 11th Malaysia Plan, is also being considered.

“Hopefully, we can secure an allocation for it, and further reinforce Esscom’s defence,” he said.

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2015/02/28/12-boats-from-us-for-sabah-security-command/

3 Malaysian fighters in Patikul

From the Zamboanga Today Online (Mar 2): 3 Malaysian fighters in Patikul

The AFP engaged again, another recent fight, with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sulu. What surprised the soldiers is the presence of 3 Malaysian nationals with the group. The suspicion is they could be another experts, like Marwan, that might be training the bandits to make improvised bombs and other tactics not so familiar with the ASG.

The waters that separate the two countries are very accessible to intending persons to cross to our borders. The advent of fundamentalism of the extremist groups is very alarming. Asian terror groups seem to know now to copy with those in the Middle East and in Europe. The car bomb in Guiwan, last month, is an apparent example of their upgrades.
 
Where there money come from, if that is the case? How is their terrorism being financed? The intelligence community disclosed that other foreign networks are secretly sending them millions of money to buy arsenals, and also their kidnap-for-ransom trade. It has been said that ASG regulars do have their own monthly salary.
 
Allegedly, the good salary each regular receives and their high-tech arms do easily allure a good number of youths in the South. Many of them are from poverty, children of farmers and fishermen who hardly could finish their elementary and high school. They, too, have dreams in life, but life’s difficulty denied them. Thus, they joined the ASG.
 
There also, accordingly, is the limitless supply of drugs which fuel their unequalled bravery that even our military are impressed in their encounters in the highlands of Sulu and Basilan. All of these we know as unconfirmed hearsays, these same bandits actually grow marijuana plants in the mountain.
 
The soils of the two provinces are extremely rich. It could really be possible that as part of the routines of other ASG members are growing these illegal plants because there is big money in them. They also harvest them and in turn pass to other stealth members in the lowland as merchants to other buyers in the nearby cities and provinces like Zamboanga.
 
This probability can be supported to previous busts of the military in the hinterlands of Basilan and Sulu. With these concoction, one can easily adjudge that the struggle of the ASG is neither about religion or political in nature but plainly banditry. They are around to simply inflict and harm. It is not about ideology they are giving their lives for but a non-sense and a useless hit and run struggle against our government.
 
Internationally, the ASG is labeled as a terrorist group. The Americans, especially, even gave higher bounties to a number of their leaders. The war on terrorism of the United States is still on, thus, the US government is willing to shell-out millions of dollars against their enemies, both foreign and home grown.
 
The latest sighting of the AFP in the mountains of Patikul must cast a worry to our government. If they indeed are experts, Marwan could be dead already but, the threats of more bombings ain’t over yet. The recent battle of our military in the highlands of Patikul is relentless, yet the force of the ASG who knows the terrain of the place easily can slip from the grip of the government pressures.
 
Many of them also wear talisman, that accordingly, bullets cannot hurt them. Well, stories like these are very subjective. Let’s however continue to pray for the safety of our people every day. May peace come eventually to our Island and to us all, too.