Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA3401 2006-08-14 10:35 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Manila
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #3401/01 2261035
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 141035Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2480
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC//OSD/ISA/AP// IMMEDIATE
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 003401
STATE FOR EAP/MTS
USPACOM ALSO FOR FPA HUSO
JOINT STAFF J5 (WILKES/ROBINSON/CLEMMONS)
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/14/2016
TAGS: PTER MOPS MCAP PREL RP
SUBJECT: AFP ANTI-TERRORISM OPERATIONS ADVANCE ON JOLO
REF: A. MANILA 3352
¶B. MANILA 3299
¶C. MANILA 3218
Classified By: (U) Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Paul W. Jones
for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).
¶1. (C) SUMMARY. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
is continuing operations against Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and
Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leaders on the island of Jolo. AFP
units now control the high ground around Mt. Tumatangis
in western Jolo and have shrunk the no-fire area under the
control of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
Civilian organizations traditionally affiliated with the MNLF
are actively helping in the search for the terrorists. U.S.
forces embedded at battalion-level headquarters are providing
advice, assistance, and intelligence support to AFP maneuver
elements, while U.S. and Philippine naval forces are closely
integrated in a maritime cordon around the island. Several
members of the ASG’s Urban Terrorist Group were killed in
joint AFP/Philippine National Police raids on August 12-13.
Although Khadaffy Janjalani, Abu Solaiman, Umar Patek, and
Dulmatin continue to elude their pursuers, the AFP appears
committed to sustained operations to capture or kill them.
Charge is maintaining regular, close contact with senior GRP
officials as the operation proceeds. If-asked press guidance
is provided in paragraph 11. END SUMMARY.
CONSOLIDATING GROUND AND MAINTAINING THE PURSUIT
¶2. (C) AFP units continue to consolidate their ground in an
ongoing operation against high-value terrorists on the
island of Jolo. Since the operation began in the early hours
of August 1, the AFP has kept up its pursuit of the
leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Khadaffy Janjalani,
Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) operatives Dulmatin and Umar Patek,
and other terrorists who had been located in western Jolo.
Artillery and helicopter gunships have pounded suspected
JI/ASG positions on Mt. Tumatangis, and AFP Army and Marine
units now control the high ground there to prevent the
terrorists from re-infiltrating.
¶3. (S) Recent intelligence reports indicate that Khadaffy
Janjalani, Abu Solaiman, Umar Patek, and Dulmatin may be with
ASG commander Radullan Sahiron, who allegedly is in the
region of Patikul, his traditional sanctuary in central Jolo.
Janjalani, Dulmatin, and Patek may attempt to flee Jolo via
small boat to Tongkil, a smuggler’s island between Jolo and
Basilan, where two high-powered speed boats are reportedly
waiting to take them to another, still undetermined,
¶4. (S) The AFP intends to shift the majority of its combat
forces, including Task Force Marine and the US-trained and
equipped 2nd and 3rd Light Reaction Companies, from western
to eastern Jolo to pursue the ASG and JI leaders. The
remaining AFP forces in western Jolo will hunt down any ASG
fugitives still hiding in the Mt. Tumatangis area. The Light
Reaction Companies are conducting night combat patrols, with
an additional quick reaction force standing by in Jolo City
once the location of the terrorists is specifically
identified. The Philippine Navy is moving its assets from
off-shore western Jolo to cover the eastern and southern
areas and prevent any escape attempt in those directions,
and, with U.S. support, is maintaining an active security
presence and tight maritime cordon around the island.
¶5. (SBU) AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP) units
killed at least four Abu Sayyaf Group terrorists and wounded
an undetermined number of others in a joint operation in Jolo
City on the evening of August 12. The Urban Terrorist Group
(UTG) leader Iting Salani, wanted for the murder of several
Philippine Marines, is among the four confirmed killed in the
initial assault on an ASG safe house. One police officer
also died in the fighting. An estimated 11 others shot their
way out and seven attempted to escape via speed boat. The
craft was taken under fire by helicopter-borne Light Reaction
Company snipers, who inflicted multiple casualties and forced
the fleeing ASG terrorists to abandon their escape craft near
the town of Parang. Three wounded ASG were seen carried from
the scene with blood trails, and one body was recovered from
the water on August 13; the AFP has sent units to recover the
bodies and hunt down the others.
MANILA 00003401 002 OF 003
¶6. (SBU) The AFP and PNP conducted a subsequent joint raid
August 13 against another ASG safehouse near Jolo City, in
which ASG-UTG assassination team member Suaiban was killed,
while two others escaped; these three ASG terrorists are
likely among those who had escaped the August 12 raid.
Suaiban was known to have participated in the torture and
murder of two hostages, the bombing of a military convoy in
May 2004, and the assassination of at least three AFP
intelligence officers since June of this year.
POSITIONED FOR EXTENDED OPERATIONS
¶7. (C) The AFP leadership appears to be positioning itself
for extended operations. Forces are being regularly
resupplied and rotated in the field, as are ships in the
naval task force off-shore. Fleet-Officer-in-Command
Admiral Mayuga has pledged that logistical support “is not an
issue,” and said he intends to keep his ships on station as
long as necessary. The AFP Chief of Staff, General Esperon,
arrived on Jolo August 14 to get a first-hand report of
operations, and specifically asked to meet with JSOTF-P while
he is there.
CONTINUING NEGOTIATIONS WITH MNLF
¶8. (C) The AFP has negotiated with the Moro National
Liberation Front (MNLF) to shrink the no-fire area, north of
Mt. Tumatangis, controlled by MNLF from a six to a four
square kilometer box, and is continuing talks to obtain
access to the area. Thus far, there have been no clashes
between the MNLF and AFP. Discussions continue between BG
Dolorfino, the SOUTHCOM Deputy Commander for Operations, and
MNLF leaders about MNLF assistance to apprehend the JI and
ASG leaders. Dolorfino appears to have succeeded in
persuading civilian organizations traditionally affiliated
with the MNLF to help in the search. The Mayors of Jolo and
Indanan and AFP senior officers say the local populace is
sympathetic to the need for pursuit operations and
appreciates the AFP/PNP effort to minimize collateral damage.
In contrast to similar previous AFP operations on Jolo, we
have heard no complaints by the populace.
U.S. FORCES CLOSELY ENGAGED IN PROVIDING SUPPORT
¶9. (C) U.S. forces remain closely engaged in support of the
operations. The USNS Joint Venture and Joint Special
Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) MK-V’s and
Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) are fully integrated
into the Philippine Navy task force, and have provided
intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support to
the 87-plus maritime interdictions around the island that
have taken place since August 1. JSOTF-P elements are
present at the battalion headquarters of all the maneuver
elements, as well as at the headquarters of the combat
command for Jolo, Task Force Comet, and SOUTHCOM headquarters.
ONGOING EMBASSY CONTACTS WITH SENIOR GRP OFFICIALS
¶10. (C) Charge continues to maintain regular, close contact
with senior Philippine Government officials as the
operation proceeds, including President Arroyo, Defense
Secretary Cruz, National Security Advisor Gonzales, and Chief
Negotiator with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Afable.
Afable indicated the GRP is engaged in ongoing contacts with
imprisoned MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari about MNLF cooperation
to capture the JI and ASG leaders (ref A).
IF-ASKED PRESS GUIDANCE
¶11. (SBU) Philippine press reporting on the offensive has
been largely factual, and has highlighted that the U.S. has
evacuated AFP casualties and is providing intelligence and
other support. There has been no noticeable criticism of the
operations or U.S. support. Should questions arise regarding
the Jolo operations, we recommend using the following
Q: What is your reaction to the AFP offensive against
terrorists on Jolo?
MANILA 00003401 003 OF 003
— The Government of the Philippines is taking action to
eliminate terrorist sanctuaries on the island of Jolo. The
United States is a staunch ally of the Philippines in its
fight against terrorism, and supports its objective to bring
peace, stability, and development to this region.
— U.S. forces are not directly involved in this operation,
but are providing support. Our forces, in a support role,
advise, train, and share information with AFP forces.
— The recently signed “Kapit Bisig” framework between the
U.S. and the Philippines provides a mechanism by which U.S.
forces can provide this support when requested by the
— We are working with the Philippine Government to bring
development to the people of Jolo and to help Philippine
security forces to become more effective. We look forward to
continuing this assistance in partnership with the Government
and people of the Philippines.
— The U.S. is a strong partner of the Philippines. We will
continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with it in confronting
terrorism and building a better future.
Q: Can you comment on reports that the United States is
providing intelligence support, specifically signals
intelligence, to the Philippine Government?
— As I said, U.S. forces share information with AFP forces.
We do not publicly discuss details of this cooperation.
Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified website: