Sep 152014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/01/09MANILA166.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA166
2009-01-26 10:08
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO4869
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0166/01 0261008
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 261008Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2980
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000166

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/26/2019
TAGS: ASEC PTER RP
SUBJECT: MILF MEMBERS GET LIFE TERMS FOR DEADLY 2000 BOMBING

REF: A. MANILA 46: KEY TERRORIST CAPTURED
¶B. 2008 MANILA 2677: PHILIPPINE MILITARY OPERATIONS
PRODUCING RESULTS
¶C. 2007 MANILA 3947: ASG CONVICTIONS UNDERSCORE
DETERMINATION IN TERRORISM FIGHT

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

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Demonstrating the Philippine government’s
continued commitment to combating terrorism, on January 23, a
Manila court sentenced three members of the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front to terms of 20-40 years without parole for
five deadly bombing attacks on December 30, 2000 across metro
Manila that killed 22 people and wounded almost 100. Mukhlis
Hadji Umpara Yunos, Zainal Paks, and Mohammad Amir were
convicted for their role in planning and executing the Rizal
Day bombings eight years ago, including an explosion that
occurred across the street from the U.S. Embassy in downtown
Manila. Together with a December 2007 conviction of 14 Abu
Sayyaf Group members for terrorist activities and recent
successes against Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah members in
the southern Philippines, the conviction of the Rizal Day
bombers underscores the Philippine government’s sustained
counterterrorism efforts and highlights the success of USG
support to broaden the interagency effort to eliminate
terrorist organizations in the country. END SUMMARY.

——————————
TRIAL PRODUCES KEY CONVICTIONS
——————————

¶2. (C) On January 23, a Manila court sentenced three members
the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to life terms
without parole for five simultaneous bombing attacks across
metro Manila on December 30, 2000. The attacks occurred on
Rizal Day, a national holiday, and left 22 people dead and
almost 100 wounded. The bombings occurred on a Manila metro
light-rail car, inside a commuter bus, at an abandoned
gasoline station, in the parking lot of Manila International
Airport, and across the street from the U.S. Embassy.
According to authorities, five other suspects wanted in
connection with these bombings still remain at large. The
Philippines abolished the death penalty in 2006, but the
courts sentenced Mukhlis Hadji Umpara Yunos, Zainal Paks, and
Mohammad Amir to between 20 and 40 years without parole for
the planning and execution of the five attacks.

¶3. (U) At the conclusion of the lengthy trial, which ended
six years after the arrest of the three suspects, the
Philippine government hailed the conviction of the three
bombers as “fruits of effective and coordinated efforts of
law enforcement, prosecution, and the courts.” A
spokesperson for President Arroyo added that the conviction
“served to reinforce the people’s faith in the justice
system.” Philippine National Police Chief General Jesus
Verzosa, who was in charge of the police unit which arrested
one of the suspects in 2003, warned that continued vigilance
was necessary in the wake of the recent convictions as
retaliatory attacks by the MILF could materialize.

———————————
RECENT COUNTERTERRORISM SUCCESSES
———————————

¶4. (C) The complexity of battling terrorist groups active in
the Philippines enmeshed in a social fabric that includes
family, ethnic, political, and religious ties was highlighted
during the trial of the Rizal Day bombers. Philippine
prosecutors maintained that one of the MILF members and
alleged ringleader of the attacks, Mukhlis Hadji Umpara
Yunos, was an explosives expert who had carried out attacks
for Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist group, an assertion
supported by U.S. authorities. The interconnection between
different groups involved in terrorist-related activities
muddies the waters for Philippine forces seeking to locate
key, high value individuals and creates challenges for the
security forces in determining the linkages between these
individuals and other terrorist groups.

¶5. (C) Nevertheless, recent successes by the Armed Forces
of the Philippines (AFP) in the southern Philippines have
disrupted terrorist networks in Mindanao and destroyed known
terrorist camps in the Sulu Archipelago. Since November
2008, combined military and police efforts in Mindanao,
supported by U.S. personnel, led to the capture of senior JI
facilitators Hajiruddin Dansalan (ref B) and Omar Venancio
(ref A) in November and January 2009, respectively.

MANILA 00000166 002 OF 002

Separately, on December 7, 2008, nearly simultaneous AFP
offensives were conducted against high-value Abu Sayyaf Group
(ASG) members on Jolo island and an ASG group involved in
numerous kidnappings on Basilan island. In December 2007, 14
ASG members were convicted in a Philippine court for the May
2001 kidnappings of 20 persons, including U.S. citizens
Gracia and Martin Burham and Guillermo Sobero from a
Philippine resort (ref C).

——-
COMMENT
——-

¶6. (C) The Philippine court’s conviction of the MILF members
involved in the Rizal Day bombings is the most recent example
of the Philippine government’s emphasis on thwarting
homegrown terrorism. The trial, while lengthy, illustrated
the growing maturity of the Philippine legal system in
melding contributions from different law enforcement agencies
that increasingly are sharing evidence and data in pursuit of
a public trial and conviction. Recent counterterrorism
operations in the southern Philippines and convictions of
accused terrorists tangibly illustrate the Philippine
government’s expanded approach to defeating terrorism by
combining law enforcement tactics with transparent judicial
proceedings. In support of these interagency operations, the
Mission continues to conduct training on military
proficiencies, as well as on law enforcement tactics and
judicial procedures.
KENNEY

   

 

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