Oct 212014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/10/06MANILA4403.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA4403 2006-10-18 08:45 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO2524
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #4403/01 2910845
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 180845Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3555
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 004403

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/18/2016
TAGS: PINS KISL PTER RP
SUBJECT: BOMBING CHARGES AGAINST MILF LEADERS COMPLICATE PEACE PROCESS

REF: A. MANILA 4343

¶B. MANILA 4221

Classified By: POL/C Scott Bellard for reasons 1.4 (b) and (c).

¶1. (C) Summary: Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
Chairman Murad and other MILF members are now facing
preliminary charges related to the recent bombings in
Mindanao that left six dead and over 30 wounded, despite a
lack of direct evidence. Presidential Adviser for the Peace
Process Dureza offered his personal assurances to the MILF
leadership that prosecutors would dismiss these charges,
while expressing hope for MILF assistance in bringing the
real bombing suspects, including a former MILF member, to
justice. Rather than derailing peace talks further, this
latest development is an opportunity for the MILF leadership
again to do the right thing — as it did when it forced key
ASG and JI leaders to leave Maguindanao in 2005 — by handing
over those rogue elements involved in the recent deadly
bombings to GRP authorities under the auspices of the Ad Hoc
Joint Action Group (AHJAG). End Summary.

———————
A “Tactical Decision”
———————

¶2. (C) Presidential Advisor for the Peace Process “Jess”
Dureza on October 18 confirmed to POL/C that MILF Chairman
Al-Haj Murad Ibrahim and about 20 other senior MILF officials
are now facing preliminary charges related to the October 10
and 11 bombings in Tacurong, Sultan Kudurat, and Makilala
that left six dead and over 30 wounded. (Jemaah Islamiyah
operatives Dulmatin and Umar Patek are also cited in the
charges, along with a Pakistani national, according to
government prosecutor Al Calica.) Dureza commented that he
had personally reviewed the charges and, as a lawyer, had
found no substance in the accusations against Murad and the
other MILF leaders. He speculated that the filing had been a
“tactical decision” by the provincial Philippine National
Police (PNP) chief in order to pressure the MILF to turn over
the actual suspected bombers, whom some MILF commanders are
apparently harboring (ref a).

¶3. (C) Dureza said that he had immediately called MILF
headquarters upon receiving the news on the evening of
October 17 in order to assure the MILF that the GRP did not
sanction this move, nor was it in any way a reflection of a
harder-line policy against the MILF. He added that Chairman
Murad had been on the verge of convening a Central Committee
meeting to discuss how to react. Dureza said that he had
offered his “personal assurances” that the charges would not
go forward, predicting that the prosecutor would dismiss them
as baseless, so the MILF leaders would not go to trial. He
said that he nonetheless continued to hope that the MILF
would turn over the suspected bombers in its midst.

¶4. (C) According to Embassy contacts, National Security
Adviser Norberto Gonzales would meet with senior PNP
officials in Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao on October 18 to
discuss the charges against the MILF leadership.

———————————–
Former MILF Member is Prime Suspect
———————————–

¶5. (C) GRP Peace Panel Negotiations Panel Director Ryan
Sullivan explained separately that the local prosecutor’s
office will next conduct a preliminary investigation to
determine if there is sufficient evidence to issue warrants
of arrest for MILF Chairman Murad et al. He noted that North
Cotabato Governor Emmanuel Pinol had been especially vocal
about the MILF leadership’s alleged role in the bombings,
despite a lack of evidence. He added that authorities do
believe that one of the prime bombing suspects is Abdul Basit
Usman, whom the MILF had removed from its roster in 2003.
Sullivan said that Basit, along with several other
individuals outside the ranks of the MILF, have been
operating as a “small cell” of “bombers for hire” rather than
as a “MILF Special Operations Group.” Head of the GRP
negotiating Panel with the MILF Silvestre Afable separately
linked these for-hire bombers to Abu Solaiman and the Abu
Sayyaf Group, as well as possibly to JI operatives in Sulu.
Sullivan added that the AHJAG and PNP are currently
coordinating their efforts to locate and apprehend Basit.
(DCM and Pol/C will meet on October 20 with Brigadier General
Benjamin Dolorfino to discuss the AHJAG role and other
aspects of the peace process.)

MANILA 00004403 002 OF 002

——-
Comment
——-

¶6. (C) Given the considerable difficulties already facing
the GRP/MILF peace talks of late, notably over ancestral
domain, MILF leaders may well be suspicious that these
charges are a hardball move by the GRP to bring the MILF back
to the negotiating table on the GRP’s terms. This does not
appear to be the case, nor would it be apt to work if it
were. Assuming that cooler heads on both sides prevail, this
is more importantly an opportunity for the MILF again to do
the right thing — as it did when it forced key ASG and JI
leaders to leave Maguindanao in 2005 — by handing over those
rogue elements under suspicion of involvement in the deadly
bombings to GRP authorities through the AHJAG. Emboffs, in
our periodic contacts with senior MILF officials, will
reinforce this point.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm
KENNEY

   

 

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