Sep 152014

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
2005-02-15 08:34
2011-08-30 01:44
Embassy Manila

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000727



E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/15/2015

¶B. MANILA 247
¶C. MANILA 682
¶D. MANILA 630
¶E. MANILA 463
¶F. MANILA 645
¶G. 04 MANILA 5625

Classified By: Political Officer Joseph Saus
for Reason 1.4 (b) and (d).


¶1. (C) The terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) heads the list
of prime suspects in the February 14 series of three bombings
in Manila and Mindanao that, according to media reports, left
at least 11 Filipinos dead and 136 injured. The Moro Islamic
Liberation Front has publicly condemned the bombings. The
police and military are on their highest alert status. The
Arroyo Administration has condemned the attacks, calling for
calm among the population. No suspects have been apprehended
yet and preliminary investigation of crime scene evidence is
underway, with no conclusive findings so far. No Amcits are
reported killed or injured. End Summary.

Abu Sayyaf and JI Leading Suspects

¶2. (C) Abu Solaiman, a key commander of the terrorist Abu
Sayyaf Group (ASG), read a statement on local radio February
14 claiming “our latest operations in Manila, Davao, and
GenSan (General Santos), planned and executed with precision
by the talented warriors of Islam is our continuing response
to the GRP atrocities committed against Muslims everywhere.”
The diatribe continues to lambaste the GRP, accusing it of
“unabated harassment and injustices” invoking anti-Muslim
discrimination in Manila (ref B) and the ongoing Armed Forces
of the Philippines (AFP) operations against ASG-linked
Misuari Breakaway Group (MBG) fighters on Jolo Island, Sulu
Province (refs C,D). (Comment: We judge the ASG claim as
credible. Additionally we suspect the close involvement of
suspected Jemmah Islamiyah (JI) operatives with reported
links to ASG leader Khadafi Janjalani (ref E). While the ASG
has a proven track record of inflicting casualties with
bombings, the level of coordination and synchronization is
reminiscent of the JI-linked multiple bombings in Manila on
December 30, 2000. The invocation of the ongoing hostilities
against the MBG provides the ASG a convenient excuse and
justification for these terrorist acts. End Comment.)

MILF and Others Condemns Attacks

¶3. (SBU) In an article on its website, the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF) condemned the attacks, calling the
perpetrators “evil men.” “We condemn this barbaric act in
strongest terms,” said Muhammad Ameen Secretary to the Office
of MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim. The statement noted,
“This is a carnage that dehumanizes human life and dignity.”
Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye called the bombings
“despicable acts,” adding “we shall not be intimidated, but
we must be alert and united in our vigilance.” Embassy
contact Amina Rasul, convenor of the Philippine Council for
Islam and Democracy, has condemned the attacks calling for
the “swift apprehension and punishment of the criminals.”
Rasul’s statement further warns against “opportunists who
will exploit the tragedy in order to promote a political
agenda…” and calls on “all Muslims to be vigilant, that the
name of Islam and Muslims will not be used in these barbaric

Other Bombs?

¶4. (C) We have no credible indications that these attacks
are part of another wave of incidents. However, police in
Manila had earlier responded to two bomb-related incidents
apart from the three explosions. On February 12, police
discovered two rifle grenades in a bag in front of the
Japanese Embassy, which is adjacent to the Hyatt Regency
Manila and 1/4 mile from the Embassy’s Seafront Residential
and General Services Compound on the busy thoroughfare of
Roxas Boulevard. Police bomb experts safely removed both
devices. On February 14 in the Metro Manila city of
Paranaque, patrolling PNP officers observed a plastic bag
discarded by an unidentified man who escaped. Police
recovered several pieces of explosive material (TNT and C-4)
and several detonation devices. The items were individual
components and not assembled as an explosive device.
(Comment: It is unclear if these two incidents are related to
the bombings. It is possible the threat against the Japanese
Embassy is linked to Japan’s recent immigration crackdown on
“entertainer visas” (ref F). End Comment.)

¶5. (C) PNP officials theorized to RSO that the ASG may have
committed the attacks to divert attention from current AFP
operations in Sulu Province. But the planning for such
events usually takes considerably more time and the linkage
between fighting in Sulu and these bombings may be
coincidental. It is equally likely that the ASG and JI,
smarting from recent failed AFP attacks against their
leadership on November 19, 2004 (ref G) and January 27, 2005
(ref E), have been planning these attacks for months now.

Investigation And Arrests: Too Early To Tell?

¶6. (C) Legatt reports the crime scenes were largely cleaned
up by the morning of February 15. Legatt technical experts
at the scene report the Philippine National Police (PNP) did
a good job in properly collecting and cataloguing evidence.
Seven Australian Federal Police post-blast and forensic
experts are enroute to the Philippines to aid in the
investigation, and are expected to arrive the evening of
February 15. Legatt notes the Australian experts will assess
the collected evidence from the attacks and provide
assistance to the PNP. We have also offered FBI forensic
assistance to the GRP, and a response is pending. The PNP
advised us that no arrests have been made. Police
authorities released a sketch of two suspects responsible for
the Manila bus bombing, and video surveillance film is under
review to identify possible suspects. National Security
Adviser Norberto Gonzales told the media late February 14 it
is premature to give an assessment. Both the Armed Forces of
the Philippines and the PNP are on their highest alert
status. Col. Napoleon Tass, PNP Chief of Intelligence for
the National Capitol Region (Metro Manila), when asked about
the possible perpetrators of the bombing told PolOff, “Most
of the information received thus far points to Muslim
extremists. I personally will not qualify which group
exactly since we all know that they are in alliance. Whoever
they may be, they must be made to pay for the grief they have



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