Sep 162014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/08/09MANILA1715.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA1715
2009-08-13 09:10
2011-08-30 01:44
SECRET
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO1488
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1715/01 2250910
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 130910Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4874
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001715

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/14/2029
TAGS: MOPS PTER PINR PGOV RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINE MILITARY LAUNCHES MAJOR STRIKE AGAINST BASILAN TERRORISTS

REF: A. MANILA 1468 (LAST ICRC HOSTAGE EUGENIO VAGNI
RELEASED)
¶B. MANILA 1261 (OPERATIONS UNDERSCORE MILITARY’S
PRIORITIES)
¶C. MANILA 1063 (MINDANAO VIOLENCE RISING)

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

¶1. (S) SUMMARY: The Philippine military struck hard August 12
and 13 against Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) terrorists on the
violence-ridden island of Basilan in the southern
Philippines, and appears to have killed more than 20
terrorists in an aggressive — but costly — operation.
Unconfirmed reports received by U.S. forces in the southern
Philippines assert the operations resulted in the deaths of
at least five high-value targets, but over two dozen soldiers
were killed, and at least a dozen wounded. The Basilan
governor grieved the loss of so many soldiers in her
province, and expressed concern for civilian populations that
may have been affected by the offensive. The operation stems
from a renewed push by the government to address a resurgence
of ASG violence throughout the Sulu archipelago (ref C),
where ASG terrorists have kidnapped and killed civilians and
abducted — but later released — three International
Committee of the Red Cross workers (ref A). With the Red
Cross abduction resolved and a new ceasefire with Mindanao’s
separatist Muslim rebels in place, the military may be
turning its attention and resources to the national security
priorities outlined to the Ambassador in June by the
military’s top general (ref B), potentially marking a return
to the more aggressive anti-terrorism policies of earlier
years of President Arroyo’s administration and more focused
anti-terrorism operations in the field. END SUMMARY.

OPERATION ELIMINATES ASG TARGETS
——————————–

¶2. (S) Reports received by the U.S. Joint Special Operations
Task Force Philippines (JSOTF-P) asserted that operations
late on August 12 and into the following morning killed
approximately 20 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) terrorists and
affiliated members, including three ASG members and two Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels believed to be ASG
associates. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
Western Mindanao Command reported the unconfirmed death of a
key ASG figure on Basilan, Khair Mundos, and Moton Indama,
brother of ASG sub-leader Furuji Indama. The operation also
reportedly caused the deaths of MILF separatist rebels Johnny
Poy and Asid Sali. The military’s offensive faced heavy
resistance by the ASG and resulted in the deaths of at least
27 soldiers and 13 wounded, a heavy price. However, the
deaths of these terrorists and their associates, if
confirmed, will have dealt a significant blow to ASG
capabilities and could stem several months of resurgent
violence by the terrorist group. In recent months, the
people of Basilan and Jolo witnessed several kidnappings and
murders by ASG terrorists (ref C), in addition to the
high-profile ASG kidnapping of three International committee
of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers, the last of whom was finally
released July 12 by his captors on the island of Jolo (ref A).

BASILAN GOVERNOR GRIEVING LOSS OF SOLDIERS
——————————————

¶3. (C) Basilan Governor Jum Akbar told Post in an August 13
phone call she was deeply saddened by the large number of
soldiers who had died in operation in her province. The
military’s success against the ASG, while important, was
little consolation. Akbar noted that Basilan was starting to
recover from the endemic violence that had limited economic
and social development on the island for so long, but this
recent offensive proved to be a painful reminder of the
perennial potential for violence. While she said she
understood that military operations would be planned and
undertaken without her knowing, she nonetheless expressed
hope that the island would, one day, have an opportunity to
encounter peace. Akbar instructed her vice governor this
morning to look into the operation’s effects on civilian
populations, and indicated she would likely remain in Basilan
for the approaching Ramadan period to attend to the needs of
the island.

RENEWED FOCUS ON FIGHTING ASG
—————————–

¶4. (C) Recent political successes by the Arroyo
administration have contributed to conditions allowing the

MANILA 00001715 002 OF 002

AFP to focus on the ASG threat. The July 12 release of the
last of three ICRC hostages on Jolo island permitted the AFP
to reallocate its resources away from rescue operations
toward a more offensive posture. The Arroyo administration’s
July 23 ceasefire with MILF rebels and a subsequent July 29
joint statement by both parties on resuming the peace process
similarly enabled the AFP to suspend some operations against
rogue MILF commanders in central Mindanao, freeing resources
and manpower for other operations. Combined with President
Arroyo’s order for the military to address internal security
threats, as described in June to the Ambassador (ref B),
these developments together appear to have helped increase
the ability of the AFP to undertake offensive operations
against the ASG.

COMMENT
——-

¶5. (C) If the deaths of the high value targets can be
confirmed, this operation will be a significant blow to the
ASG’s capabilities on Basilan and, more generally, in
Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. But even if successful by
that measure, the operation will have proved costly for the
AFP in terms of lives; more soldiers died than terrorists,
according to early figures. Still, the operation may portend
the Philippines’ return to more aggressive anti-terrorism
tactics, which had become less prevalent in recent years,
marking the government’s determination to tackle the
continued threat of terrorism in the final nine months of
President Arroyo’s term in office.
KENNEY

   

 

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