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Thread: The Islamic Insurgents (catch all)

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    Default Philippines Terrorism: The Role of Militant Islamic Converts

    Philippines Terrorism: The Role of Militant Islamic Converts
    The Philippines’ small minority of terrorist converts resembles the threat of “home-grown” terrorism looming in developed countries since the 7 July London bombings. Like second-generation Muslims in Western Europe or Australia, converts move inconspicuously through their own urban landscapes but may also experience a deep sense of difference. This paradoxical combination can make them ideal recruits for foreign jihadis. The crucial difference in the Philippines is that this new threat is embedded in a civil war, and militant converts possess powerful domestic as well as regional and global allies...

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default US Intelligence Guides Hunters of Abu Sayyaf

    4 August Manila Times - US Intelligence Guides Hunters of Abu Sayyaf by Al Jacinto.

    Guided by intelligence given by the US Army, Filipino troops on Thursday continued their assault on suspected lairs of the Abu Sayyaf in Jolo for the third straight day.

    The military is hot on the trail of Khadaffy Janjalani, the Abu Sayyaf chieftain, and two Jemaah Islamiya leaders, Umar Patek and Dulmatin.

    Maj. Gen. Gabriel Habacon, chief of the Southern Command, ordered the assault on the terrorist groups after verifying reports that members of the Abu Sayyaf were holed up in the town of Indanan.

    “The Southern Command is conducting an extensive operation to drive out the terrorists permanently from the region,” Habacon said.

    “We have been tracking them down, and now the time has come [to finish them off].”

    According to reports, Patek is an Indonesian explosives expert, and Dulmatin is a Malaysian electronics expert.

    Both JI members, the two are said to be behind the 2002 bombings of an establishment frequented by foreign tourists in Bali, Indonesia, during which 200 people were killed. Soon after, they also allegedly masterminded the bombing of the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, also in Indonesia. They eluded a massive manhunt and fled in August 2003 to Mindanao.

    “We have reports that the two JI bombers are in Jolo, but it is difficult to confirm if they are with the Abu Sayyaf fighting our soldiers,” said Army Col. Antonio Supnet, chief of staff of the Southern Command in Zamboanga City.

    The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which controls Indanan, has assured the military it will deny the terrorist group sanctuary. The MNLF signed a peace accord with Manila in 1996.

    A US Army contingent helps in the campaign by providing satellite snapshots of the area of operation. It happened to be in Jolo to conduct a joint antiterrorism exercise with Filipino soldiers when the Abu Sayaff was spotted.

    “Our friends in the US military are helping us,” Supnet said. “They are not involved in combat operations, but they are providing us with intelligence support.”

    Navy Cdr. Kathy Wright, a spokesman for the US military, said the American soldiers are also helping to evacuate wounded soldiers. She added that the assistance is being extended at the request of the host government.

    A US EP3 Orion reconnaissance plane routinely flies over Jolo, presumably to spot the terrorists’ position, although the spokesman denied the speculation...

    The US government is equal*ly eager to capture the remaining members of the Abu Sayyaf. It has included the group on the list of foreign terrorist organizations since it kidnapped three US citizens in 2001 and killed two of them in captivity...

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    Default Atlantic article on Abu Sayef-"Jihadists in Paradise"

    In the latest issue of the Atlantic Mark Bowden details the hunt for Abu Sabaya, leader of the group that kidnapped Martin and Gracia Burnham. It is an interesting piece of reporting. Bowden describes the cooperation between U.S. military/intelligence and Philipino Army/Marines that leads to the destruction of Sabaya's cell.

    Here's the link: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200703/bowden-jihad

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    Council Member max161's Avatar
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    Default Bowden as fiction writer

    I did not realize Bowden wrote fiction!! But considering his source (singular not plural) I am not surprised.
    David S. Maxwell
    "Irregular warfare is far more intellectual than a bayonet charge." T.E. Lawrence

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    Default Clarification

    I'm not sure I follow your comment about Mark Bowden writing fiction. Could you clarify?

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    Council Member max161's Avatar
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    Default Fiction

    My comment about Bowden was meant tongue in cheek. However, much of what he attributes to Brig Gen Sabban is fiction. Arlyn Dela Cruz was a self serving reporter who wanted to be the story vice write about it. There are many, many inaccuracies, half truths, and spins of the facts in this article.
    David S. Maxwell
    "Irregular warfare is far more intellectual than a bayonet charge." T.E. Lawrence

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    Default A different perspective

    Is there another piece I could read about the incidents Bowden writes about that provides a better perspective? I have generally had a reasonably high opinion concerning Bowden. If he's not reporting a fair degree of the truth, I am disappointed. Thank you for the feedback.

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    Council Member max161's Avatar
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    Default Other sources

    The fault lies not with Bowden but with his sources, primarily Sabban (look for the FEB 07 edition of Outside Magazine for some more "interesting" reading). If you want to read about what happened to the Burnham's read Gracia's book, In the Presence of Thine Enemies. Read Maria's Ressa's book Seeds of Terror - though more broadly about the SE Asia terrorist threat.
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 06-24-2009 at 12:44 PM. Reason: Added link.
    David S. Maxwell
    "Irregular warfare is far more intellectual than a bayonet charge." T.E. Lawrence

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    Council Member bismark17's Avatar
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    Default Re:

    I also really liked the article but just wish some of the technical details were not added in. It wasn't necessary for the story and could create future hang ups.

    I am generally a Bowden fan but wish he wouldn't delve so far into various TTPs or operational things. He seems to be a more commerically successful version of Steven Emerson in that he obviously has a ton of contacts in both the IC/SOF arenas. As an aside, I still am amazed at Emerson's book on the special operations units of the Reagan years. There are at least several regular posters on this site who I am sure have direct knowledge of some of the events described in it.

    The Seeds of Terror is a great snapshot of the SE Asian Theatre for the time frame it covered and am looking forward to checking out the other suggestions from this thread.

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    Default easy to spot converts

    Hi:

    Yes, it is true that converts to Islam could pose a threat.

    But....being it traditionally Christian areas means they are fish out of water.

    Admittedly, islamist terrorists have already exploded a few bombs--and killed a number of Filipinos--in urban areas in the recent past.

    What is noteworthy, however, is that they are immediately or almost immediately caught.

    Islamic converts when they go back to the Philippines easily stick out in their neighborhoods. But in all fairness to them, I do know one in our middle class subdivision. We are friends and doubt if he has any inclinations to be a suicide bomber.

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    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Easy to spot converts

    Greetings Pinoyme !
    I tend to agree. My mother was from Singapore way back when either of us were even born. Not only Christian, but little tolerance for other ideals. My uncle and his wife now frequent Malaysia and according to their observations, things are even more strict than 50 years ago. Drugs ? Stone him to death !
    With that, what would happen to a fanatic on a roll ?

    Regards, Stan

    Quote Originally Posted by pinoyme View Post
    Hi:

    Yes, it is true that converts to Islam could pose a threat.

    But....being it traditionally Christian areas means they are fish out of water.

    Admittedly, islamist terrorists have already exploded a few bombs--and killed a number of Filipinos--in urban areas in the recent past.

    What is noteworthy, however, is that they are immediately or almost immediately caught.

    Islamic converts when they go back to the Philippines easily stick out in their neighborhoods. But in all fairness to them, I do know one in our middle class subdivision. We are friends and doubt if he has any inclinations to be a suicide bomber.

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default

    Interesting comments thus far, so please humor me as I follow this line of thought:

    Even if Islamic converts might stand out amongst the Catholics, how easy will it be for them to suppress their new principles of life, in order to participate in an attack?

    Take this a step further and look outside the Philippines for a moment. It's a fact of life that many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) work world-wide, centered on the service and hospitality industries. Would the powers-that-be in Manila be concerned at all with these networks that have spread across the world?

    Not only is their purchasing power immense, OFWs have developed a very robust (although transparent) system to move money back to the PI. I curious if those networks are monitored, because it would seem that they are wide open to manipulation for nefarious means.

    I'm also curious how OFWs fare when trying to navigate the post-9/11 immigration/customs/visa regulations around the world. Are they equally restrictive if the OFW is from, say, Jolo or Mindanao?

    Perhaps Maxwell and Pinoyme have some insight.

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    Default The threat is real

    I will try to find the article that supports this line of thought, but Christians converting to Islam in the Philippines do not stand out from the crowd, especially if they are taught to keep a low profile. When they return to their homes, let's say somewhere in Luzon, they speak the local dialect, they wear the same clothes, they are probably well known in their community, and there is absolutely nothing abnormal about a Filippino or Filippina going to work in the Middle East. They provide at the very least an auxillary and probably an underground to help facilitate terrorists. Lets assume they also have been contacts and clandestine ways of communicating with them.

    Balik Islam is a threat, and beyond the physical threat it is interesting to note the large number of Filippionos who travel to the Middle East that convert from Catholicism to Islam. I read a couple of years back that this was happening in Mexico also, largely because the Catholic church didn't offer any explanations as to why they (the majority) are suffering in abject poverty, or offer a way ahead like the promise of Islam provides (so I'm told). This is perhaps the real threat long term, Western society is gradually being undermined.

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default

    pinoyme commented in another thread that he didn't know of any link between OFW presence in the Gulf States and jihadist extremism in the southern islands.

    While I agree that OFWs are primarily concerned with making money to support families back home, I'm not so sure that the connections aren't there. They may be miniscule, but I would offer that all it takes is one spark to start the fire.

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    Default Here's a starter

    http://jamaatubalikislam.jeeran.com/...st_muslims.htm

    today, Islamic world is faced with certain extremely threatening problems. The tightening encirclement of arrogant enemies equipped with political and military power and technology, and the imposition of corruption, prostitution, intoxicants and drug vices, gambling and all related components of the West's culture, which annihilates Islamic countries and/or may lose their Islamic identies.

    With Afghanistan and now Iraq and the Philippines crisis, present a unique opportunity to proceed towards the long-cherished goal of Muslim unity. An overwhelming majority of the Muslim states views the issue a grave one and favors some immediate action. The Muslim world must provide representation to Mujahideen in the various international bodies, supply resources to Mujahideen and build continue support for them through international media.
    http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/?...ial_may02_2005

    The arrest of Balik Islam recruit Dawud Santos last March 23 in Cubao, Quezon City led to a raid where 600 kg of explosives were seized.
    Not exactly your ordinary next-door neighbor, Santos has a brother, Akhmad, who heads the Rajah Solaiman Movement with links to the Abu Sayyaf Group that was all set to mount a major attack last Holy Week.
    Dawud posted bail last April 27. Curiously, he was arrested in May 2002 in a Balik Islam boot camp in Anda, Pangasinan but was released on bail.

    http://www.tkb.org/Group.jsp?groupID=4690

    The Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM) is a terrorist organization dedicated to creating an Islamic state in the Philippines. The group represents a radical and militarized fringe of the greater “Balik Islam” (return to Islam) movement, which is made up of people who grew up as Roman Catholics that have since converted to Islam.

    RSM is relatively small in size, and most of its members converted to Islam through marriage or by virtue of their work environment as overseas contract laborers in the Middle East. Some members already have well-established reputations as Roman Catholics, and some do not take Muslim names as is customary for other converts. The membership is mostly made up of locals from the main Filipino island of Luzon, which gives RSM the advantage of local knowledge.
    This is just a sampling of hits found by typing Balik Islam into the MSN search engine. While it is far from being a doomsday scenario there are concerns that need to be addressed.

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    Default

    An older (20 Apr 06) article from the Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor speaks to this issue, although it is, by its own admission, a mixture of analysis and conjecture:

    Christian Converts and Islamic Terrorism in the Philippines
    ...The Rationale Behind the Presumed RSRM-JI Nexus

    There are at least four factors that would seem to have salience in terms of explaining the emergent nexus noted above. First, many BI members (the movement from which the RSRM is drawn) are either based in or have intimate knowledge of Manila. This facet makes Christian converts uniquely suited for carrying out attacks that are able to impact directly on the seat of national political, economic and cultural power....

    ...Second, and very much related to the above, because RSRM cadres do not originate from ethnic Moro Muslim backgrounds, they are less likely to be identified as Islamist terrorists....

    ...Third, and directly related to the above two points, it would be extremely difficult for JI to act independently in the Philippines given the enormous ethnic and linguistic diversity that exists across the Republic....

    ...Finally, since the RSRM is made up of converts to Islam, the group arguably has more to prove in validating the credibility of its jihadist credentials...
    Personally, although I do not have the benefit of Pinoyme's local knowledge, I do not agree with his statement that convert terrorists would be "fish out of water" when operating in the traditionally Catholic areas of Manila, etc. Remember the key word convert. They were raised in the same Catholic tradition, and although they are now converted radicals, they possess the in-depth knowledge necessary to blend in when operational. Of course, this really applies to hard core terrorists; someone who is simply is a convert with radical beliefs would not be concerned with blending in and would stand out just as Pinoyme suggested.

    However, the Philippine authorities are well aware of this threat, and the US has made significant strides towards effective sharing of intel with them in this regard. But the local authorities are certainly challenged by the manning and equipping issues in the spectrum of threat they face, from ASG and RSRM to the NPA and all the other various criminal gangs, pedophile sex tourists and just general crime in between.

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    Default

    Hi:

    Believe you me, the Islamic terrorist threat is much greater in London than it is in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, or other Philippine urban centers.

    The Manila Standard story on arrests of Rajah Soliman and Balik Islam movement members shows once more how easy they are to monitor in the Philippines.

    Islamic converts who are now terrorists can easily blend with Catholic crowds?

    Wrong.

    Filipinos are a highly sociable people. When a Filipino OFW returns from abroad, that immediately becomes news in his neigborhood. And his friends and neighbors come to visit him.

    If he has converted, that is really big news and everyone in his neighborhood will know it. Which of course means that if law enforcement authorities put out an alert, the barangay tanods or community police would put a watch on him as a matter of course.

    The fact that an Islamic convert no longer eats pork already makes him stand out in urban neigborhoods. This is because lechon, the chief Philippine festive serving consists of whole roast pig.



    Meanwhile, sorry for the delayed response. I have been doing other things lately.

    Cheers.

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    Default

    Hi:

    My apologies if this post shall be considered as flooding.

    But my previous entry failed to take into account Mr. Jedburgh's comment to mine.

    Yes, Islamic converts who are hard-core terrorists could truly pose a threat when operational.

    But how many are they really?

    And how much damage have they caused all these years since 9/11? Not much really. In Metro Manila, bank robbers and carjackers have done more harm to the megapolis' population since Sept. 11, 2001.

    Incidentally, steps have been taken to harden the most obvious targets. The fact that the security guard agency sector ( watchmen services in US parlance) is among the largest employers of working class Filipinos has helped immensely in this regard.

    That there are at least twice as many armed security guards in the Philippines as there are AFP troopers has been a cultural quirk here since the end of World War 2.

    One unintended consequence is that this strategic reserve --a good number of whose members are ex-servicemen--has now been mobilized in the Philippine front in the global war on terror.

    Cheers.

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    Default Abu Sayyaf fighters speak out - 17-September-07

    The Philippines's military has been engaged in long-running offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, a group responsible for numerous killings in the south of the Philippines

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wToFtiJnji0

    You gotta love the red sweater with a Teddy Bear!

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    Default Abu Sayyaf group (historical, merged thread)

    From the BBC:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7146565.stm

    Kudos to the Philippines Marines for the take down of this terrorist leader.

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