Tag Archive: counter-terrorism


Three foreigners abducted by alleged Abu Sayyaf members on Samal Island, Davao del Norte, appeared in another video, calling on authorities to help save their lives by meeting their captors’ demands.

The 1 minute and 38-second video, posted on a Facebook page called “Pamantasan Ng Tawheed At Jihaad Filibin” Thursday morning showed Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Norweigian Kjartan Sekkingstad, and a woman believed to be Filipina Marites Flor, sitting in a jungle while being surrounded by gunmen.

With one captor holding a bolo against his neck, Ridsdel appealed to the Canadian prime minister and other Canadians to meet the hostage-takers’ demands.

“Please do what’s needed to meet their demands within one month or they will kill me and they will execute us,” he said.

Hall said they are being held by the Abu Sayyaf for an amount of ransom unknown to him, and the Canadian government should act to get them out soon.

“We got one month before this happens,” he said.

Sekkingstad said he and his fellow hostages are being held by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu.

“Follow negotiations and try to meet their demand within 30 days or we are all dead,” he said.

The woman believed to be Flor did not speak in the video, where the faces of almost all captors — including the one that held a bolo against Ridsdel’s neck — were seen.

One hostage-taker, who was wearing a black balaclava and sunglasses, spoke for the gunmen.

“We will give a warning for one month preparation for the family to meet the demand. Once you step… the negotiation within one month starting today, March 8, 2016 until April 8, 2016. Then, if you think that your policy is far better for you than the lives of the captives, certainly we will do something terrible against these captives,” he said.

A previous video clip showing Ridsdel, Hall, Sekkingstad, Flor and their captors appeared in the Internet last November, barely two months after they were seized in Samal September 21.

Sought for comment on the new video, Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said authorities have yet to determine its “authenticity.”

“Dinulog po natin itong material na ito, itong video na ‘to, sa tanggapan ng ating mga forensic experts at antayin po muna natin ang kanilang ilalahad at ang kanilang mahahanap upang ma-authenticate natin nang ganap,” Padilla told reporters.

He admitted that threats made by the hostage-takers are “serious” and said operations were ongoing to rescue the captives.

“‘Yan po ang ating isinasagawa, di po nagbabago ‘yan, at karamihan po ng ating mga naisagawa nang activities ay nakatuon ang pansin sa, hopefully, pag-rescue sa mga nasabing bihag,” Padilla said.

Last month, the head of the police’s anti-kidnapping unit confirmed that Abu Sayyaf members are holding the four people kidnapped in Samal.

Senior Superintendent Roberto Fajardo, director of the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group, also confirmed that members of the al Qaeda-linked group are asking P1 billion in exchange for the captives.

Meanwhile, Padilla called on the public to be more “discerning” on what they see and share on social media.

“Maaaring sila ay nagiging bahagi na ng paninira na ginagawa ng mga grupong ito nang di nila nalalaman… Maging mapanuri at maging maingat sa inyong tinitingnan sa social media para di po kayo nagiging bahagi ng isang propaganda,” he said. (John Roson)

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Government troops seized two Abu Sayyaf encampments in Patikul, Sulu, after a clash with the bandits Thursday afternoon, the military said.

Brigadier General Alan Arrojado, Armed Forces Joint Task Group Sulu commander, said soldiers encountered about 30 Abu Sayyaf members in Sitio Mabusing, Brgy. Langhub, around 1 p.m.

Elements of the Army’s 10th Scout Ranger Company were conducting field military operations when the encountered the bandits led by Abu Sayyaf sub-commanders Muammar Askali alis “Abu Rami,” Namel Ahajari alias “Namel Gapas,” and Arkam Udjaman alias “Isran,” he said.

A 15-minute firefight ensued, until the troops seized a temporary encampment that can accomodate 50 people, Arrojado said.

Soldiers found a rifle grenade, M16 magazine with 45 rounds of ammunition, and foodstuff at the camp.

No soldier was wounded while intelligence operatives reported that two Abu Sayyaf members were injured, Arrojado said.

Members of the 11th Scout Ranger Company operating nearby later found a larger encampment, he said.

The other camp has 18 fox holes and can accomodate 80 to 100 people, and is believed to be where the bandit group’s “main body” had positioned, Arrojado said. (John Roson)

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An alleged student of slain Malaysian bomb expert Marwan who is himself wanted for carrying out bombings, was arrested in Panaon, Misamis Occidental, Saturday afternoon, a police official said.

Arrested was Abdul Malik Sali, a member of the Al Khobar group, Northern Mindanao regional police director Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz said.

Elements of the Panaon Police and the PNP’s anti-terror Special Project: Mindanao Khilafah Islamiyah arrested Sali at a checkpoint along the National Highway around 5:30 p.m., Cruz said in a text message.

Operatives carried out the arrest on warrants for multiple murder with frustrated murder and multiple attempted murder, he said.

Sali is believed to be behind two bombing incidents in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato, and Digos City, Davao del Sur, where several lives were lost, Cruz said.

He is a “member of the Al Khobar terrorist group under the umbrella of the group of Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan,” the police official said.

Sali’s arrest came almost two months after Marwan, a suspect in the deadly 2002 bombings in Bali, Indonesia, was killed in a raid by the PNP Special Action Force in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last January 25.

The raid, however, also cost the lives of 44 SAF members as armed Moro groups ganged up on the police commandos.

In 2008, the Department of Interior and Local Government announced a P400,000 reward for anyone who can help authorities capture Sali, one of the suspects in the bombing of a Metro Shuttle Bus in September 1 that year.

The incident killed at least five people and injured 30 others.

Same bounties were offered for Sali’s fellow bombing suspects Mahir Abu Bakr and Jonaria Mindiba.

Al Khobar is a group of extortionists based in the marshlands of Maguindanao and are responsible for the spate of bombings in Central Mindanao since 2006, according to a statement issued by the PNP in 2013.

The group was allegedly created to support the Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah and other foreign militant jihadist groups.

It was intended to serve as a special unit concentrating on using explosives and carrying out extortion schemes across Cotabato, until it transformed into a kidnap-for-ransom gang and, much later, into an extortion group, according to the police statement. (John Roson)

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Three Malaysian operatives of the Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) were reportedly spotted among Abu Sayyaf members as government troops figured in another clash with the bandit group in Patikul, Sulu, Thursday.

The military revealed the information as it announced that 14 Abu Sayyaf members have been confirmed killed and 19 more were injured in previous clashes in Patikul on Wednesday.

“There is an information” on the three Malaysian JI operatives’ presence, Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, spokesperson of the Armed Forces’ Western Mindanao Command, said by phone.

Elements of the 14th Scout Ranger Company clashed with the group of Abu Sayyaf sub-commander Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan “with the three JI Malaysian nationals” in Sitio Kanjimaw, Brgy. Tugas, 9:15 a.m., according a a report from the AFP Joint Task Group (JTG) Sulu.

“Civilian tipsters revealed that the three Malaysian members of the Jemaah Islamiyah were coddled by the group of Sawadjaan,” AFP public affairs office chief Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc said in a statement.

Captain Antonio Bulao, JTG Sulu public affairs officer, said the firefight with the Abu Sayyaf men and their JI cohorts lasted for almost 15 minutes.

No soldier was injured in the fighting, while the Abu Sayyaf is believed to have suffered “casualties” because blood trails were seen along the bandits’ route of withdrawal to Sitio Gabang, Brgy. Bakong, Bulao said.

Troops of the 35th Infantry Battalion later discovered an encampment that can accommodate at least 50 persons, Cabunoc said.

16 dead, 35 hurt

The fresh clash occurred after troops battled about 300 Abu Sayyaf members led by Sawadjaan in Brgy. Tanum, also in Patikul, on Wednesday.

Two skirmishes occurred in Tanum, leaving a total of 16 combatants dead and 35 others wounded from both the government and Abu Sayyaf.

Fourteen Abu Sayyaf men were killed while 19 other bandits were hurt in Wednesday’s clashes, Muyuela said.

Some of the slain bandits were identified as Berhamin Jawhari, Musar Sawadjaan, Jani Madjid, Adzmar Muhammad, Ompoy Uran, and Mussal Jawhari, according to a report from JTG Sulu.

Eight other slain bandits have yet to be identified, but they were traced to have come from Luuk, Patikul, and Indanan, according to the report.

Bandit commander hurt

Soldiers are also checking information that Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan was injured in Wednesday’s clashes, Muyuela said.

“‘Yun po talaga ang report na nakarating sa amin, injured siya (Sawadjaan), kaya parang di masyadong makagalaw itong Abu Sayyaf from their position sa Patikul,” a military official based in Sulu said.

Sawadjaan, said to be almost “equal” in stature with Abu Sayyaf top leader Radullan Sahiron, is implicated in several incidents of kindapping incidents in Sulu.

“Nakita din ‘yung grupo ni Furuji Indama, na sa Basilan talaga nakabase, na kasama nila,” the Sulu-based official said on condition of anonymity.

Wednesday’s clashes also resulted in the death of two soldiers and wounding of 16 other troopers.

Killed were Cpl. Lonell Bautista, of Cavite; and Pfc. Ervin Roquero, of Negros Occidental, Cabunoc said, citing information from JTG Sulu.

Among 16 wounded are 1Lt. Ramsel Dugan and 2Lt. Bernard Mabazza. Most of the wounded were hit by shrapnel from 40mm grenade launchers, he said.

U.S. choppers to the rescue, again

The wounded soldiers were brought from the clash site to the Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Hospital in Jolo via military helicopters, according to JTG Sulu.

They were later transferred to Zamboanga City via choppers of the U.S. military’s defense contractor, Evergreen, the task group reported.

Evergreen helicopters were also seen helping transport some of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) members who were injured in the deadly clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last January 25.

“Okay lang ‘yun, what is wrong with an ally helping another?” AFP spokesman Colonel Restituto Padilla told reporters when asked if the U.S. assistance was legal.

“They (U.S.) are not directly involved in the operation because that will be violative of the Constitution… They share information and they assist in casualty evacuations,” Padilla added. (John Roson)

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An Abu Sayyaf member was killed when the bandit group clashed with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and government troops who provided reinforcement, in Sumisip, Basilan, on Saturday, the military said.

This developed after security forces expressed disappointment over the MILF’s involvement in a clash that resulted in the death of 44 members of the National Police’s Special Action Force (SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on January 25.

Members of the MILF encountered about 50 Abu Sayyaf members in Brgy. Pamatsaken around 10 a.m., said 1Lt. Sally Christine Magno, civil-military operations officer of the Army’s 104th Brigade.

Upon learning the incident, the 64th Infantry Battalion sent three platoons of soldiers and armored vehicles “to reinforce the beleaguered MILF members,” Magno said.

The troops proceeded to the encounter site with Brgy. Central chairman Marjim Barillo and other MILF members, she said.

The Abu Sayyaf members, led by sub-commanders Radzmil Jannatul, Juhaibel Alamsirul, and Pasil Bayali, withdrew towards Brgy. Baiwas, apparently sensing the large strength of the reinforcing troops and MILF, Magno said.

Members of the 64th IB then transported MILF member Sahid Liberal alias “Balinting,” who was wounded in the clash, to his relatives and later to Basilan Community Hospital in Isabela City, she said.

Other soldiers and some MILF members, meanwhile, pursued the Abu Sayyaf and cleared encampments and a jungle base of the bandits between Pamatsaken and Baiwas.

“It was reported that one Abu Sayyaf bandit was killed during the encounter,” Magno said.

The killing of SAF troopers in Mamasapano, which came shortly after a raid where the police commandos killed Malaysian terror suspect Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, raised questions on the MILF’s sincerity in the peace deal it signed with the government in March 2014.

National Police officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina publicly criticized the involved Muslim rebels for the “overkill.”

The death of the SAF troopers also fueled talk of a rift between the PNP and Armed Forces which, some say, failed to reinforce the beleaguered policemen in their time of need.

Both the PNP and AFP have denied that such a rift exists, but only after military officials said the SAF failed to coordinate its mission and sacked SAF commander Director Getulio Napenas claimed otherwise.

President Benigno Aquino, in a televised speech on Friday, warned that it will be more dangerous for the country if the PNP and AFP were to clash.

The President, in what was seen by observers as a move to douse the “rift” issue between the PNP and AFP, vowed to pursue justice for the slain police commandos and warned that the combined strength of both agencies will be used to “run over” those who will again attack security forces who are performing their duty. (John Roson)

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Security forces in Sulu beefed up security measures as more Abu Sayyaf “casualties” are being reported after Friday’s clash in Patikul.

As of Saturday, the military received reports of 15 Abu Sayyaf “casualties” — nine of whom are believed to have been killed and six others seriously wounded — from Friday’s clash in Brgy. Buhanginan, a military official based in Sulu said.

Fellow bandits are reportedly trying to bring the nine towards Panglima Estino while six are monitored to be on their way to Jolo, said the official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak on the matter.

“‘Yung nine ang believed na fatal nila kasi ‘yun ang dinala papunta sa origin nitong grupo. Looban na ‘yun, wala silang makukuhang medical assistance doon, baka iuuwi na lang ang mga ito sa kamag-anak. ‘Yung mga dinala sa Jolo, ‘yun siguro ang mga ipapagamot nila,” the source said.

Members of the Marines, Army Special Forces, and the Light Armored Cavalry Troops have fanned out to Patikul and Talipao to intercept the casualties, while police were also asked to conduct checkpoints.

This is while elements of the Army’s 32nd and 35th Infantry Battalions, along with members of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion, are conducting pursuit operations, the source said.

On Friday, members of the 35th IB clashed with about 100 Abu Sayyaf members led by Abu Sayyaf top leader Radullan Sahiron, Hairullah Asbang, Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, and Amlon Abtahi, according to a report reaching Camp Aguinaldo.

Soldiers fired 105-millimeter Howitzer cannons at the bandits’ position while Air Force helicopter gunships were also used to support the ground troops, according to the report.

Thirteen soldiers were hurt in the clash, which lasted for almost two hours.

All 13 were flown on helicopters to the military camp in Jolo for treatment. One of them was later flown to Zamboanga City because of serious injuries, the source said.

The fighting in Brgy. Buhanginan occurred just a day after two Abu Sayyaf members were killed and three more were wounded in a clash with the 32nd IB in Brgy. Taglibi, also in Patikul, on Thursday.

A nephew of Sahiron was among those who died in that clash, which also resulted in the recovery of several high-powered firearms, the source said.

Sahiron’s group “consolidated” with those of Abu Sayyaf sub-commanders following his nephew’s death, but they splintered again after Friday’s clash, the source added. (John Roson)

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Eight Abu Sayyaf members were either killed or injured while 13 soldiers were hurt when government troops battled a large number of bandits in Patikul, Sulu, on Friday, the military said.

The clash in Brgy. Buhanginan erupted around 11:50 a.m. and lasted for about an hour an a half, said Ensign Chester Ian Ramos, public affairs officer of the Armed Forces’ Joint Task Force Zambasulta (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi).

Eight “casualties” were monitored among the Abu Sayyaf while 13 soldiers were hurt, Ramos said in a text message.

In Manila, reports quoted AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc as saying that the eight Abu Sayyaf members were killed.

A Sulu-based military official, however, said it was not yet confirmed if the eight were indeed killed.

“May walo sa kalaban, hindi lang namin ma-validate pa kung patay pero walo ‘yun na dinala sa Sitio Kantitap, Brgy. Danag,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

Ramos, based in Zamboanga City, said field reports sent by the Joint Task Group Sulu, only indicated that the Abu Sayyaf casualties were “dragged” by comrades to Sitio Kantitap.

“Hindi pa ma-ascertain kung ilan ang namatay,” Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela, spokesperson of the AFP Western Mindanao Command also based in Zamboanga, said.

Members of the 35th Infantry Battalion encountered the group of Abu Sayyaf top leader Radullan Sahiron, the Sulu-based source said.

Troops clashed with about 100 Abu Sayyaf members led by Sahiron, Hairullah Asbang, and Amlon Abtahi, according to a separate military report reaching Camp Aguinaldo.

Soldiers fired 105-millimeter Howitzer cannons while Air Force helicopter gunships were also used to support the ground troops, according to the report.

Most of the injured soldiers only suffered slight wounds and have been taken to the military camp in Jolo, the Sulu-based official said.

Members of the 35th IB, 32nd IB, and 1st Scout Ranger Battalion were conducting pursuit operations against the Abu Sayyaf as of Friday evening.

The fighting occurred just a day after two Abu Sayyaf members were killed and three more were wounded in a clash with members of the 32nd IB on Thursday.

A nephew of Sahiron was among those who died in that clash, which also resulted in the recovery of several high-powered firearms, the source said.

“Kahapon namatay ‘yung pamangkin niya (Sahiron) so nag-consolidate sila. Nag-pursuit naman kami tapos na-engage uli sila,” the source added. (John Roson)

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Marwan escaped in 2012 — AFP

The Armed Forces on Monday admitted that Malaysian Jemaah Islamiyah operative Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan escaped a military air strike in 2012, contrary to its previous claim.

Then AFP chief Gen. Jessie Dellosa did not endorse the release of the reward on the Malaysian bomb expert’s head “because there was a validated report that Marwan was able to escape unharmed,” AFP public affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said.

Marwan — for whose capture the U.S. government offers a whopping US$5 million — was reported by the AFP as killed after Air Force planes dropped bombs on Brgy. Duyan Kabao, Parang, Sulu, on February 2, 2012.

“The AFP announced the death of Marwan in February 2012 based on the existing intelligence data during that time,” Cabunoc said.

Cabunoc’s remarks came amid reports that Marwan had indeed been killed in the operation by members of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last January 25.

Forty-four SAF members were killed in a clash with members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as they withdrew from Marwan’s hideout.

“The DNA testing that is currently undertaken will prove his (Marwan) reported death in Mamasapano,” Cabunoc said. (John Roson)

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Government troops seized a large camp of the Abu Sayyaf in Patikul, Sulu, on Monday, after a bloody clash with the bandit group Sunday afternoon.

The camp, which has 42 structures and can accomodate about 100 persons, was found in Brgy. Langhub, said Ensign Chester Ian Ramos, public affairs officer of the Armed Forces’ Joint Task Force Zambasulta.

Elements of the Joint Task Group Sulu were conducting clearing operations around 8 a.m. when they discovered the encampment, he said.

Soldiers found empty shells of a 57-mm recoilless rifle, an M60 machine gun, M203 grenade launcher, AK-47 rifles, as well M14 and M16 rifles, at the camp, Ramos said.

Also found were two handheld radios, a marble gun, four jungle hammocks, eight combat boots, two rain boots, nine backpacks, military uniforms and shirts, a solar panel, three solar headlights, 21 water containers, two sandals, and six slippers, he said.

“Walang encounter na nangyari, [the camp was discovered] while the troops were conducting clearing operations… Progress na ito ng encounter kahapon,” Ramos said.

On Sunday afternoon, a member of the Army’s elite Scout Rangers was killed and four others were injured in a clash with about 60 Abu Sayyaf members in Brgy. Bungkaong, also in Patikul. (John Roson)

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A member of the Army’s elite Scout Rangers was killed while four others were injured during a clash with Abu Sayyaf members in Patikul, Sulu, Sunday afternoon, the military said.

Elements of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion were conducting “law enforcement operations” in Bud Pula, Brgy. Bungkaong, 4 p.m. when they encountered about 60 Abu Sayyaf members, Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela said.

The firefight, which lasted for more than an hour, resulted in the death of a soldier and the wounding of four others, Muyuela said in a text message Sunday night.

It was not immediately known if the bandits, who belong to the Abu Sayyaf’s so-called “Lucky 9” group or Ajang-Ajang, Muyuela said.

The bandits were led by Abu Sayyaf sub-commanders Hatib Aseri and Basarun Arok, whose followers ambushed a convoy of the Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion in Brgy. Bungkaong last Friday, she said.

Two soldiers were injured in the ambush.

Intelligence reports recieved by the military Sunday indicated that two of the attackers were killed and another was injured when the troops fought back, Muyuela said. (John Roson)

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