From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 7): Police arrest leader of notorious terrorist Al Khobar group
Terrorist suspect Jabide Abdul alias Zabide/Beds, leader of Al Khobar Group. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/PNP-PIO
A leader of a notorious terrorist group believed to be responsible in several bomb attacks in Central Mindanao since 2006 that killed 31 persons and wounded more than a hundred others, has been arrested by police authorities in Sultan Kudarat, a Philippine National Police official said Thursday.
In a belated report, Police Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP-Public Information Office chief, said suspect Jabide Abdul alias Zabide/Beds was arrested in Barangay (village) Titulok, Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat around 2 p.m. on Tuesday.
Abdul, the supposed senior leader of the Al-Khobar Group, was subject of several warrants of arrest for crimes of multiple murder, multiple frustrated murder, multiple attempted murder and destruction of property.
A P3.3-million reward was offered for information leading to his arrest.
Chief Superintendent Abelardo Villacorta, Director of the PNP Intelligence Group said Al Khobar is a group of extortionists believed to be based in the marshlands of Maguindanao and is responsible for the spate of bombings in the central Mindanao region since 2006.
“The group was allegedly created in support of Jemaah Islamiya (JI) and Foreign Militant Jihadists (FMJ) groups. It was intended to serve as a special unit concentrating on explosive component use and extortion schemes across Cotabato areas,” Villacorta said, adding that the group first turned into a kidnap-for-ransom group before it became an extortion group.
Al Khobar is known to target businesses and even local governments in the central Mindanao region, Villacorta said, noting that it has been blamed for the series of bomb attacks on bus companies and commercial establishments in the region from 2007 to 2009.
“A member of the group usually calls the target before the attack and demands ‘protection money’ to prevent such planned attack on their business. If the money is not paid, an attack is carried out,” the police official said.
Al-Khobar Group is allegedly responsible for the following attacks:
1. October 10, 2006 bombing of a crowded in Makilala, North Cotabato during the town’s founding anniuversary. 6 killed, 40 wounded
2. May 10, 2007 bombing of a Weena Bus at the Cotabato Terminal. 3 killed, 15 wounded
3. July-August 2007, three separate bombing of Yellow Bus Line units in Sultan Kudarat. 1 killed, 4 wounded
4. August 5, 2007 bombing in Kidapawan City. 1 killed
5. 2007 Bombing of Sugni Superstore in Kabacan, North Cotabato
6. January 30, 2008 bombing at Philbest Canning Corporation in Tambler, General Santos City. 4 killed, 28 wounded.
7. April 2, 2008 bombing of a Metro Shuttle Bus in Digos City. 6 killed, 30 wounded
8. May 8, 2008 bombing of a passenger van in Midsayap, North Cotabato. 4 wounded
9. June 2008 bombing of a Weena Bus at Bansalan Terminal in Davao del Sur. 10 killed, 14 wounded.
10. May 22, 2009 bombing in Kidapawan City. 9 wounded.
The visitors compose local community leaders, radio announcers, volunteers from the Muslim Attorney Center, the academe and civil society organizations from the provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala in the so-called Deep South of Thailand, a region that experience conflict during the past decade. The Asia Foundation coordinated the learning and sharing exposure of the group of sixteen peace advocates coming from various persuasions.
Recollecting their experience, the spokesmen of the group, Anissa Naksewee and Hadee Hamidong from The Asia Foundation-Thailand and Shintaro Hara from the Prince of Songkhla University of Pattani recalled that the indigenous ethno-nationalist conflict in Southern Thailand span more than 200 years already from the time when sultans and Muslim leaders led the Malay-Muslim minority in the then Budhist Siamese Kingdom of yesteryears. The differences and misunderstandings of old were carried on to the present day.
The grievance of the Malay-Muslim community stemmed from the perceived and real failure of the succeeding governments and national political leaders to acknowledge their unique cultural identity, the systematic discrimination in local governance and social service delivery, political marginalization and human rights violations among others.
Recently a “General Consensus on the Peace Dialogue Process” was formulated and signed between the government of Thailand and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) or the National Liberation Organization in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia which the latter government facilitated. Negotiation however reached an impasse, as it failed to generate traction both from local advocates and the international community.
It can be recalled that even the BRN, the largest among groups opposing the government, three factions exist such as congress, the military wing and the most active among the groups that currently conitnue to conduct military operations; coordinate, the political wing involved in activities in Malayia but not active in south Thailand; and uram, the group focused on political and religious activities.
There too is the Pattani United Liberation Organization (PULO) calling for free and independent Pattani in the international political arena and doing noticeable role in seeking funds for separatist movement back home but less active militarily compared to the BRN.
Hardliners in the Thai government and Thai army abound who would rather deal directly with the separatist leaders collectively or individually rather than any particular group or organization. They also perceived Malaysia is not an honest broker but a stakeholder in the ongoing conflict.
The visitors requested that they be acquainted with the Bangsamoro question saying their problem span more than 200 years already and they are just beginning to search for peace through negotiation.
This writer was requested to elucidate on the succession of colonial efforts to sunjugate the Moros. Spain for 337 years of colonial rule completely conquered Luzon and Visayas but not the Moros whose sultans and datus tenaciously clang to their way of life and religion of Islam, culminating in the illegal Treaty of Paris of 1898; American colonialism for 40 years saw the introduction of secular education, deviation from Islamic tenets and way of life; and the succession of administrations of Filipinos that saw the Moros political, economic and social marginalzation with emphasis on former presidents Ferdinand Marcos martial law declaration to eliminate the Bangsamoro, Joseph Estrada’s all-out-war in 2000 and Gloria Arroyo’s war in 2003. The Bangsamoro withstood all these wars and made them more resolved to pursue their right to independence and self-determination.
Responding on their query about civilian participation and consultation in MILF affairs, they were told the Central Committee had initiated general assemblies in 2001, 2005 and 2012 were millions of the masses of Moro supporters and sympathizers passed resolutions authorizing the MILF to negotiate and enter into agreements for their welfare.
Hardliners are not directly faced and dealt with because the MILF is negotiating with the Government of the Philippines and not with individual Filipinos.
Commissioner Said Sheik of the BTC stated his hope the meeting is just the beginning of a partnership and educated the group about the MILF experience of military confrontation, ceasefire, the on and off fighting to regain political status and right to self-determination.
Commissioner Melanio Ulama empahsized the inclusive policy of the MILF as can be gleaned from the fact that even the indigenous peoples of which he belonged is included in the peace panel that negotiates with government.
Commissioner Hussein Munoz confided the MILF policy of Islamization, strengthening of the organization, self-reliance and creativity, and military buld-up that makes the front tick and attained what it is today.
Commissioner Ibrahim Ali had a short but meaningful words for the visitors as he said there is no glory without sacrifice and emphasized anyhting we aspired entails sacrifice.
Executive Director Esmael “Mike “ Pasigan told the visiting advocates that the Qur’anic injunction to be prepared is a worthy word of wisdom to guide every Muslim struggle against their enemy because when one is prepared no one will bother to offend you.
Soliciting some advice on what to do in coming negotiations, they were told not to forget to get trust and confidence of the Thai government and involve the international community during the negotiations and more importantly in the implementation of agreements.