Sep 132014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/10/09MANILA2220.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA2220
2009-10-22 09:13
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO6814
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2220/01 2950913
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 220913Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5492
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002220

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/22/2019
TAGS: PREL MARR RP
SUBJECT: IRISH PRIEST IS LATEST FOREIGNER KIDNAPPED IN MINDANAO

REF: A. MANILA 0247 (ICRC KIDNAPPING)
¶B. MANILA 2198 (CHARGE DISCUSSES PEACE
¶C. TERRORISM WITH MILF LEADER

Classified By: Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney, Reasons
1.4 (b) and (d)

¶1. (C) Summary: An Irish priest, Father Michael Sinnott, was
abducted on October 11 in what appears to be the latest in a
series of kidnappings for ransom of foreigners in the
southern region of Mindanao. Concern is growing for the
health of Sinnott, who requires daily medication, since the
kidnappers have not provided proof of life. There has been
widespread press speculation that Father Sinnott is being
held in territory controlled by a Moro Islamic Liberation
Front (MILF) commander, but the MILF adamantly denies any
involvement in the kidnapping. In a recent meeting with top
MILF leaders, the DCM urged the MILF to cooperate in any way
possible to help secure Father Sinnott’s release. While the
Armed Forces of Philippines (AFP) have not made specific
requests for assistance to the U.S. military, we are sharing
information per our ongoing bilateral cooperation. End
summary.

Background
———-

¶2. (U) The southern region of Mindanao continues to be
plagued by a series of kidnappings for ransom of foreigners.
In January 2009, bandits affiliated with the terrorist Abu
Sayyaf Group kidnapped three officials of the International
Committee of the Red Cross. The Swiss, Italian, and Filipino
nationals, who were abducted after carrying out a prison
visit on the island of Jolo, were eventually released, but
the Italian hostage was held for six months. In June 2007,
an Italian priest was held by kidnappers for six weeks.

Latest Kidnapping
—————–

¶3. (SBU) Father Sinnott, a Columban missionary, has been
assigned to Zamboanga del Sur province since the mid-1980s.
According to press reports, at approximately 7:20 PM on
October 11, Sinnott was abducted by six armed men who entered
his home in Pagadian City. Financial gain is the most common
motivation for kidnappings in Mindanao; however, abductors
occasionally make political demands as well (Ref A).
According to Zamboanga City Archbishop Valles, Sinnott’s
kidnappers are likely motivated by a desire for ransom, and
the Embassy is not aware of any political demands having been
made.

¶4. (U) Eleven days after Sinnott was taken, concern is
growing for the health of the priest, who has had open heart
surgery and requires daily medication. A member of the local
government’s crisis committee said that, “It has been several
days and there is no proof of life yet coming from the
kidnappers. We appeal to the public to help give the
necessary information and the kidnappers to contact us.”

Rescue Efforts
————–

¶5. (U) In its remarks to the press, the AFP has said that a
priority of its rescue operation has been to prevent the
kidnappers from moving Father Sinnott from Mindanao Island to
the Sulu Archipelago, where illegal armed groups have a
stronger presence. That objective has been met, according to
AFP officials, who said that Sinnott was sighted as recently
as October 20 in Lanao del Norte province.

¶6. (C) Numerous press reports have alleged that Father
Sinnott is being held on territory controlled by a local
military commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front
(MILF), an insurgent group currently operating under a
ceasefire with the Philippine government. MILF leaders have
strongly denied the allegations. In an October 16 meeting
with MILF leader Murad Ibrahim, the DCM urged the MILF to do
all it could to help secure Father Sinnott’s rapid release
(Ref B). The DCM relayed to Murad the extreme concern of the
Irish Ambassador regarding Father Sinnott’s ill health and
need for heart medication. She stressed that the MILF had a
role to play in helping the situation and preventing
terrorist and kidnap-for-ransom groups from exploiting the
lack of security. On October 17, the MILF ordered its troops
to help in the search for Sinnott, and on October 21, an MILF
spokesman said that his organization is “zeroing in on the
location and identities” of the kidnappers.

U.S. Assistance

MANILA 00002220 002 OF 002

—————

¶7. (C) U.S. troops from the Joint Special Operations Task
Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) work closely on a continuing
basis with AFP forces in Mindanao. While the AFP has not
made any specific requests for assistance in the Sinnott
case, JSOTF-P continues to advise and assist AFP planners and
share information per our ongoing bilateral cooperation. In
prior kidnapping cases, the U.S. has provided medical
evacuation and other transportation assistance, and we have
informed the AFP that we stand ready to do so in this case as
well.
KENNEY

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.