Cablegate: Philippines: 2007 Country Report On Terrorism

DE RUEHML #3994/01 3540852
O 200852Z DEC 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Summary: The Philippines, one of the earliest
supporters in the global coalition against terrorism,
continues to cooperate with the United States on bilateral
and multilateral counterterrorism efforts. In 2007, eight of
140 bombings that occurred in the Philippines were ascribed
to terrorism, while the motive for 78 bombings is unknown.
Intensive civil-military and internal security operations
were conducted to eliminate terrorist safehavens in the Sulu
Archipelago and central Mindanao. Thirty-eight Abu Sayyaf
Group members were captured and arrested and 127 were killed
by Philippine military and law enforcement authorities in
2007. Fourteen members of the Abu Sayyaf Group were
sentenced to life imprisonment for their role in the May 2001
Dos Palmas kidnapping of 20 persons, including three
Americans. President Arroyo signed landmark anti-terrorism
legislation to improve the Philippine government's ability to
investigate and prosecute terrorism crimes. End Summary.


2. (U) The Philippines, one of the earliest supporters in
the global coalition against terrorism, continues to
cooperate closely with the United States on bilateral and
multilateral counterterrorism efforts.

3. (U) The Philippines faces numerous threats from
terrorism. Operating within the country are the Abu Sayyaf
Group (ASG), Communist Party of the Philippines/New Peoples
Army (CPP/NPA), and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), all of which the
U.S. Government has designated as Foreign Terrorist
Organizations (FTOs). In addition, the Alex Boncayao Brigade
(ABB) and the Pentagon Gang are on the U.S. Terrorist
Exclusion List.

4. (U) In 2007, 140 bombings and 46 explosions left 142 dead
and 534 injured in the Philippines, according to the
Philippine National Police (PNP) Bomb Data Center. According
to PNP, 44 bombings were the result of improvised explosive
devices (IEDs), 63 from grenades, 3 from landmines, and 30
from other ordnance/explosives. PNP investigations
established the motives for eight of the 140 bombings as
terrorism, while 15 bombings were election related, 13 were
extortion, 10 stemmed from revenge, four from "harassment,"
three for "emotional reasons," two for "political" reasons,
two for "personal gain," two were accidental, two were
"ideological," and one was vandalism. The motives for the
remaining 78 bombings remain unknown.

5. (U) In January, five bombs exploded in Tacurong,
Cotabato, General Santos, and Kidapawan cities in Mindanao
killing eight people and injuring over 20. In May, two bombs
exploded in Tacurong and Cotabato cities killing six people
and injuring 43. In June, two bombs exploded inside of
commuter buses in central Mindanao killing eleven people. In
September, a bomb exploded in Cotabato City injuring one
person. Also in September, three bombs exploded in a market
area and public square in Zamboanga City, western Mindanao
injuring one person. In November, a bomb exploded within a
shopping mall in Kidapawan City killing one person and
injuring eight.

6. (U) Philippine authorities recovered 18 improvised
explosive devices, 33 grenades, and 49 military
ordnance/vintage bombs. Thirteen bomb threats/hoaxes also
occurred in 2007, according to PNP data.

7. (U) Philippine authorities had numerous successes against
terrorists in 2007. According to the Philippines Department
of Justice, thirty-eight ASG members were captured or
apprehended. On January 13, Philippine law enforcement
authorities arrested Kule Mamagong in North Cotabato for his
involvement in three bombings that left six dead and 36
injured. On March 11, Philippine military officials captured
ASG member Abu Usman for his role in a January 2001
kidnapping in Lantawan, Basilan. On March 16, Philippine
security forces on Basilan captured ASG member Merang Abate
for his involvement in several kidnappings. In late March,
the Philippine police arrested Pentagon Gang members, Alimona
Cali and Beru Mendoza, for their role in a 1997 kidnapping of
five civilians. On May 9, the Philippine police arrested
Taya Kulat for his involvement in a bombing in Tacurong City.
On May 11, Philippine security forces raided an ASG
safehouse on Simunul Island, Tawi Tawi, and arrested four
children of fugitive JI bomber, Dulmatin, and deported them

MANILA 00003994 002 OF 004

to Indonesia. In September, Philippine security officials
arrested eight ASG members on Palawan Island and in
Zamboanga. On November 12, Philippine security officials
arrested Demaatol Guialal in Sultan Kudarat for his
involvement in two bombings that left six dead and over 20
injured. On December 6, 14 ASG members were sentenced to
life imprisonment for the May 2001 Dos Palmas kidnapping of
20 people, including three Americans. On December 10,
Philippine authorities arrested ASG member Abdel Kamala in
Zamboanga City for his role in the 2001 Dos Palmas kidnapping
and June 2001 attack on Lamitan, Basilan.

8. (U) Philippine security forces killed 127 ASG members
during armed encounters in 2007, according to the
Anti-Terrorism Council. On January 6, the Philippine
military killed five ASG terrorists and one suspected JI
operative near the southern island of Tawi-Tawi. On January
7, the Philippine military killed ASG bomb expert, Binang
Sali, in a firefight on Jolo. On January 16, Philippine
military forces killed ASG spokesman Jainal Sali a.k.a. Abu
Solaiman during an armed encounter on Jolo. On August 18,
the Philippine military killed ASG members, Furuji and Umair
Indama, who were involved in the 2001 beheading of U.S.
citizen Guillermo Sobero, an October 2002 bombing that killed
a U.S. serviceman, and the July 10 beheadings of 10
Philippine Marines on Basilan. In the aftermath of a
November 13 bombing at Congress that left five dead and nine
injured, Philippine law enforcement authorities killed ASG
member, Abu Jandal, during a raid of a safehouse in Manila.
On December 15, Philippine security forces killed ASG member
Mubin Sakandal in Tawi-Tawi.

9. (U) U.S. and Philippine authorities worked closely during
2007 on rewards programs targeting terrorist groups. The
U.S. Department of State paid $5 million in June through its
Rewards for Justice Program to informants who provided
information that led to the killing and later recovery of the
remains of ASG leader Khadaffy Janjalani. Also in June, the
U.S. Department of State Rewards for Justice Program paid $5
million to several informants for information leading to the
killing of ASG leader Jainal Sali a.k.a Abu Solaiman. Using
its rewards program, the U.S. Department of Defense made
payments to informants whose information led to the capture
of: Khair Malvan Mundos ($10,000, April), Mohammad Yusuf
Karim ($30,000, April), Redendo Dellosa ($35,000, April),
Mariano Lomarda ($7,500, April), Abubakar Delos Reyes
($5,000, April), Binang Andang Sali ($35,000, April), Jundam
Jamalul ($50,000 April), Ismin Sahiron ($50,000, June),
Alnaser Parad ($30,000, June), and Itting and Omar Sailani
(November, $50,000). In total, the U.S. paid out $10,302,500
for information leading to the arrest or killing of 13 ASG

10. (U) The passage of the Human Security Act (HSA) during
2007 was a major step forward in the modernization of
Philippine law enforcement tools for use against terrorists.
It permits wiretapping of members of judicially designated
terrorist organizations, as well as financial investigations
of individuals connected to terrorist organizations.
However, the Human Security Act has yet to be used in actual
cases, as the Anti-Terrorism Council develops procedures and
protocols to comply with strict restrictions specified in the
new law.

11. (U) Problems in the law enforcement system still hamper
bringing terrorists to justice in the Philippines, including
limited financial resources, inadequate salaries, corruption,
low morale, and limited cooperation between police and
prosecutors. The Philippine government is working to improve
the situation with U.S. and other foreign assistance. In
December, OPDAT-funded training was provided in Manila by
U.S. prosecutors and FBI agents to 34 representatives of the
Philippine Anti-Terrorism Council. The training was directed
at assisting the Philippines in the implementation of the
HSA. The training focused on ways to use electronic
surveillance authority contained in the HSA, and on
procedures that could be used to obtain judicial designation
of organizations as terrorist under the HSA.

12. (U) The Philippine government contributed fully to
regional and international efforts to combat terrorist
financing and strives to fulfill its responsibilities through
the United Nations to detect and block the flow of funding to
individuals and entities that support terrorism. The
implementation of the Human Security Act will facilitate
these efforts.

MANILA 00003994 003 OF 004

13. (U) The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), operating
under the Philippine Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001
(AMLA), as amended in 2003, pursues the investigation and
prosecution of money laundering and is the lead agency
responsible for implementing the asset freeze measures called
for by the UN Security Council 1267 Sanctions Committee. The
Philippine government has signed and ratified all 12
international conventions and protocols related to terrorism,
including those pertaining to the suppression of terrorist
financing. The AMLA is the legislative basis for the
implementation of the financial actions against al-Qaida and
the Taliban. Under the current law, however, the AMLC cannot
take direct action against suspected terrorists or those
supporting terrorism, but must apply for a court order to
inquire into bank accounts and direct the freezing of assets
and transactions.

14. (U) The United States and the Philippines government
signed a bilateral Extradition Treaty in 1996. The treaty
gives precedence to the Philippine government for the
prosecution, conviction, and imprisonment of Filipino
criminals apprehended in the Philippines, but the Philippine
government has routinely issued arrest warrants for Filipino
nationals whom the U.S. has sought on terrorism charges. The
Philippine government did not extradite or request
extradition of terrorists for prosecution during 2007.

15. (U) The Philippine government does not offer any support
for terrorists either within or outside its borders.

16. (U) The Philippine government consistently supports the
United States in the United Nations General Assembly and
United Nations Security Council on matters related to


17. (U) The Philippine government conducted intensive
civil-military and internal security operations during 2007
to eliminate terrorist safehavens within the Sulu Archipelago
and central Mindanao. Joint U.S. - Philippines military
exercises ("Balikatan") and visits by the USS Peleliu, USS
Blue Ridge, USS Jarrett, USS Harpers Ferry, USS Reuben James,
and USS Ford supported the Philippine government's campaign
to separate terrorists from the general population and
diminish support for their cause.

18. (U) The Armed Forces of the Philippines, with U.S.
intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance support,
conducted operations to capture ASG and JI leaders on the
island of Jolo: Isnilon Hapilon, Omar Patek, and Dulmatin.
The Philippine government is aware that some JI members have
obtained safe haven in Mindanao and is actively engaged in
efforts to capture them. There is an Ad Hoc Joint Action
Group in which the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front cooperate against terrorists and criminals
in Mindanao.

19. (U) Philippine military and law enforcement at the
regional and provincial level work closely with U.S. Embassy
counterparts and visiting military personnel to ensure
counterterrorism force protection for more than 25 annual
bilateral military events. In 2007, U.S. and Philippine
military and law enforcement officials cooperated against JI
and ASG targets, with U.S. officials actively assisting in
the investigation of terrorist attacks. Members of Joint
Special Operations Task Force - Philippines in the southern
Philippines are involved in civil-military operations and
intelligence fusion to help the AFP develop a sustained
counter terrorism capability. The Embassy's law enforcement
team maintains regular contact with police and security
counterparts. The Mission received excellent levels of
cooperation from Philippine law enforcement officials in
obtaining access to terrorist detainees and witnesses for FBI
interviews, and access to criminal, immigration, financial,
and biographic records via the mechanisms established in the
U.S. - Philippine Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. The U.S.
Department of State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security is
improving the capability of Philippine agencies to respond to
terrorist threats through an in-country Anti-Terrorism

20. (U) Neither the proliferation nor the trafficking of
weapons of mass destruction plays a role in terrorism in the
Philippines, though the Philippine National Intelligence

MANILA 00003994 004 OF 004

Coordinating Agency remains concerned about possible future


21. (U) The Embassy has no information suggesting that any
foreign government provides financial support, military or
paramilitary training, weapons, diplomatic recognition, or
sanctuary from prosecution to terrorist groups operating in
the Philippines.

22. (U) The Philippines government considers the New
People's Army as the greatest threat to the security of the
Philippines, and is continuing a campaign to render the
39-year old communist insurgency "inconsequential" by 2010.


23. (U) The Philippines cooperates fully with the United
States on bilateral and multilateral counterterrorism
efforts. The Philippine Security Engagement Board is the
primary mechanism for planning and coordination on
non-traditional security issues, including counterterrorism
and maritime security. This watershed agreement serves as
the foundation for the "Kapit Bisig" (Arm-In-Arm)
counterterrorism framework that focuses on civil affairs,
capability upgrades, and support for AFP operations.

24. (U) The United States is assisting the Philippines in
the establishment of interagency intelligence fusion centers
to support maritime interdictions against transnational
criminal/terrorist organizations as well as a "Coast Watch"
system in Mindanao. A U.S. built facility, the Maritime Drug
Enforcement Center; is located at the Philippines Drug
Enforcement Agency Headquarters in Quezon City. Three
satellite centers, called Maritime Information Coordination
Centers, are located at the headquarters of the Philippine
Naval Forces - Western Mindanao in Zamboanga del Sur
(southwestern Mindanao), the Coast Guard Station in General
Santos City (south-central Mindanao), and at Poro Point, San
Fernando, La Union (northwestern Luzon).

25. (U) The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)
began issuing digitized, machine-readable passports in June.
While the Philippines cooperates with USG requests for
prosecutions for persons who tamper or alter travel
documents, the prosecutions carry low level penalties. In
addition, there is a reluctance to investigate or charge
vendors or users of false documents when the Philippine
government is not the issuing authority.

26. (U) Embassy Manila's POC for the 2007 Terrorism Report
is Political Officer Stephen Worobec (,
telephone 301-2000, ext. 2288.


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