Sep 162014
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
2006-01-13 09:57
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 04 MANILA 000190



E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/13/2016

REF: A. STATE 4536
¶B. MANILA 171

Classified By: Acting Pol/C Joseph L. Novak
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary. The Philippines faces multiple terrorist
threats. The US Mission in Manila coordinates a robust
interagency program of counterterrorism training and
technical assistance, and hopes further to expand such
efforts in FY 2006-2008, if additional funds are available.
As part 2 of a two-part series in response to ref A, this
telegram covers our assistance programs. Part 1 (ref B)
covered training efforts. End Summary.

¶2. (C) The Philippines is on the front line in the global
war on terrorism. It faces multiple threats ranging from the
al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Abu Sayyaf Group
(ASG), and Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM) to the indigenous
Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army
(CPP/NPA). The US Mission in Manila’s counterterrorism
training and assistance effort is a coordinated,
multi-faceted, interagency approach, spanning the spectrum
from USAID’s economic development programs to Joint US
Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) training and exercises,
Diplomatic Security Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA), and
Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P)
civil-military operations and operations-intelligence fusion
assistance. Each one of our programs has synergy with and
builds upon the other, e.g., JSOTF-P civil-military
operations in Mindanao are planned and occur in concert and
close coordination with pre-existing USAID activity. The
Mission’s Law Enforcement/Counterterrorism Working Group and
Political-Military Working Group, in particular, ensure full
vetting of and coordination of these programs.


¶3. (C) 2005 witnessed some successes in our counterterrorism
cooperation with the Philippines. In January, Philippine
authorities recaptured Toting Craft Hanno, an ASG terrorist
under US indictment for the kidnapping of four American
citizens, and two of their subsequent murders. In March,
Philippine security services disrupted a RSM/ASG plot
targeting US interests in Manila and arrested JI terrorist
trainer Rohmat in Mindanao. In August, AFP units conducted
sustained field operations in (ultimately unsuccessful)
efforts to capture Khadaffy Janjalani, Dulmatin, and other
high-level terrorist leaders. In October and December, they
captured RSM leader Ahmad Santos and his deputy in separate
arrests in Zamboanga. In November, JSOTF-P elements deployed
to Jolo, the heartland of the Tausug ethnic group that forms
the core element of the ASG, as the first step to repeating
the highly successful “Basilan Model” in Sulu (paras 13-14).
While this progress was encouraging, it underscores the need
to do more to help the Philippines in its efforts to defeat
the terrorist threats it faces.

¶4. (C) 2005 also saw the establishment and broadening of the
Philippine Defense Reform (PDR) initiative, with the arrival
in January of US subject matter experts. By mid-year, the
AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (J4) had fully
embraced PDR’s concepts, and significant strides were made in
introducing logistics and procurement reforms. The
Department of National Defense provided the Philippine
Congress its first-ever six year budget plan. Its first-ever
Defense Planning Guidance (DPG) set the stage for a six-year
equipping and training cycle that, along with a new Planning,
Programming and Budgeting System (PPBS) program, established
the foundations for the AFP’s long-term transformation into a
modern, transparent, and effective force capable of
undertaking its own successful counterterrorism operations.
Recognizing the need to translate this success to the
operational sphere, Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz obtained 5
billion pesos to equip re-trained AFP battalions in 2006, and
asked for US help in establishing a National Training Center
and in moving ahead with Philippine Intelligence Reform
(PIR), a comprehensive restructuring and rationalization of
AFP intelligence collection entities.

¶5. (U) U.S. and Philippine authorities worked closely during
2005 on rewards programs targeting terrorist groups. Using
its Rewards Program, the U.S. Department of Defense made a
major payment of $50,000 in November to a Filipino informant
for his role in the capture of Rohmat, a.k.a. Zaki, a JI
operative linked to the February 14 bombings. Other payments
were made to informants whose information led to the capture
of ASG operatives Rasman Mohammad ($2500, July 2005); Asbar
Ismael ($5000, September 2005); Yadzi Manatad ($5000,
September 2005); and Gumbahali Jumdail ($15,000, September
2005; payment made to the family of the deceased informant).
The U.S. Department of Defense also made two in-kind payouts
under the rewards program in July, valued at $1000 and $2500,
¶6. (C) USAID contributes to the fight against terrorism in
the Philippines by consolidating peace and bringing
opportunity to conflict-affected areas of Mindanao. With
USAID assistance, over 28,000 former combatants of the Moro
National Liberation Front (MNLF) have successfully
reintegrated into the peacetime economy, transforming one of
the largest and most enduring rebel forces in the region.
USAID continues to fund activities that: integrate former
Muslim combatants and their communities into the mainstream
economy; improve economic and business infrastructure in
conflict-affected areas, including links with business and
transport hubs; promote good governance in managing and
sustaining natural resources; and, address social and
economic disparities in income, education and health.
Opportunities for lasting change are unprecedented, e.g.,
USAID’s new education program improves access to quality
education, including in Islamic schools (madari), and
provides livelihood skills for out-of-school youth.
Continued success in improving the social and economic
conditions in Mindanao is essential to encourage the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to work for a peace agreement
– and adhere to it over time. In the event of a peace
agreement, USAID is poised to move quickly and effectively to
initiate development assistance for MILF communities.
Provided adequate ESF funding is subsequently also made
available, USAID can sustain these initial efforts and help
the GRP consolidate the peace.

¶7. (C) In 2005, the Department of Homeland Security’s office
of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (DHS/ICE) offered
several different kinds of assistance to the GRP through its
coordination with various government offices on CT-related
issues. DHS worked with the Bureau for Immigration and
Deportation (BID), Customs, and private airlines on
recognizing fraudulent travel documents. DHS/ICE also
coordinated with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and
Customs on weapons-smuggling matters, and worked with the GRP
broadly on money-laundering matters.

¶8. (C) A contractor from the U.S. Department of Treasury
provides full-time assistance to the GRP’s Financial
Intelligence Unit of the Anti-Money Laundering Council
(AMLC). In this role, he provides numerous training sessions
throughout the year to members of AMLC and to the PNP,
Department of Finance, and other GRP agencies. He has also
given training directly on counter-terrorism, holding five
classes outside of Manila and seven at the Central Bank. He
worked with the Legal Attache to give counterterrorism
training to Philippine law enforcement officers and
investigators before the November Southeast Asia Games.
Additionally, U.S. teams from the Financial Action Task Force
(FATF) visited the Philippines in 2005 to conduct several day
assessments of the AMLC’s ICT system for data collection and
information linkages of Covered Transaction and Suspicious
Transaction Reports. A U.S.-Canadian team from the Egmont
Group also visited in 2005 to conduct an assessment of the
legal system and enforcement potential of the government in
countering terrorism and terrorist financing. Treasury also
paid for several overseas training trips on money laundering
for the Executive Director of AMLC and members of his staff.
USAID-funded activities with AMLC have also increased the
capacity of AMLC to identify, investigate, and prosecute
money-launderers and those engaged in terrorist financing.

——————————————— –
——————————————— –

¶9. (C) Rewards Programs in 2006: A payout to the informant
who led to the capture of Toting Craft Hanno, an ASG
terrorist under U.S. indictment for his role in the Burnham
kidnappings was approved in November 2005 and will be made on
January 17. As we continue these efforts in 2006, we need
Washington’s help to speed up the approval process.

¶10. (C) Building on USAID Successes: In 2006, USAID will
increase funding of rule of law activities in the Autonomous
Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to increase confidence and
faith in crucial government institutions. USAID will also
continue its partnership with the Philippine judiciary
targeted at, among other things, increasing the efficiency of
the Sandiganbayan (Philippine Graft Court) in order to
eliminate existing opportunities for terrorists and their
associates to avoid arrest, prosecution, and confinement.

¶10. (C) Backing Moderates To Reinforce the Peace Process:
The GRP-MILF peace process is an important element in our
effort to isolate the JI, ASG, and RSM. We intend to
continue these contacts in an effort to promote and reinforce
the moderates within the MILF leadership, with future
engagement focused on how to support the Bangsamoro
Development Fund. The MILF has already expressed interest in
USAID’s highly successful “Arms to Farms” program, and quick
disbursing assistance in the event of a peace agreement could
help remove many of the MILF’s 10,000 fighters from the
conflict. Nonetheless, we should be prepared to deal with a
smaller group of hard-core holdouts that may seek to maintain
ties with the JI and other Islamist extremist groups.

¶12. (C) Introducing Moderate Muslim Role Models: We need to
think innovatively and creatively about how to introduce
moderate Muslim role models in Mindanao. The September 2005
visit under the US Speakers Program of Baltimore-based Imam
Mohamed Bashar Arafat is an example of the type of exchange
we need to encourage. Imam Arafat’s interaction with fellow
Muslims in Mindanao and Jolo provided his interlocutors a
tolerant, progressive vision of Islam. Such visits by US
Muslim community leaders could promote a positive exchange on
how Muslim minorities can successfully integrate into a civil
society. US educators could potentially help their Filipino
counterparts combat jihadist ideology by developing a modern,
relevant religious education curriculum. We should consider
supporting AFP proposals to use Muslim integrees as teachers
in conflict affected areas of the Sulu Archipelago. USG
assistance in these efforts is crucial to their success. We
should continue and expand our assistance on madrassah
curriculum reform, including exchange programs.

¶11. (C) Getting a Counterterrorism Framework in Place: SecDef
Cruz and his staff have suggested creating a more stable
legal framework for RP-US counterterrorism cooperation to
replace the current ad hoc Project Bayanihan formula. The
proposed Security Engagement Board (SEB) concept would mirror
the Mutual Defense Board and bring counterterrorism,
counternarcotics, search and rescue, and disaster relief
under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), giving the AFP the
constitutional protection needed to justify its activities,
if required, to the Philippine Senate. SecDef Cruz believes
that, similar to the MDB, an exchange of notes, plus a GRP
executive order, is sufficient to implement the concept. The
establishment of the SEB, which is one of our major goals for
2006, would provide the basis for the proposed Kapit Bisig
(Shoulder-to-Shoulder) framework of counterterrorism
cooperation, covering civil affairs, security assistance
training, and AFP operations.

¶12. Maintaining Philippine Defense Reform (PDR) and PNP
Transformation Momentum: The Philippine Department of
National Defense (DND) Office of the Undersecretary for PDR
(OUSPDR), with assistance from the eight US Subject Matter
Experts (SME) currently in the Philippines, has developed a
comprehensive implementation plan that will yield significant
positive results to make the AFP a more effective partner in
the GWOT. This plan includes the addition of a Professional
Enlisted Development (PED) Program to the PDR, hiring four
additional SMEs; additional Combat Life Support (CLS); and
air ambulance medical equipment for four helicopters. An
assured funding stream is vital to our efforts in PDR. A new
transformation plan for the Philippine National Police needs
significantly more USG assistance, building from the
recommendations of the 2005 INL-led Assessment Team tto help
make the PNP is similarly a more effective and modern force
in our joint counterterrorism and other law enforcement
(including TIP and IPR) cooperation.

¶13. (C) Replicating The Basilan Model On Jolo: The model we
are using in the Sulu Archipelago and central Mindanao is
based on the concepts developed on Basilan during Balikatan
02-1, when US military advisors, working in tandem with
USAID, engaged in a comprehensive program of civil-military
operations and training that allowed the AFP and PNP to take
back the island from the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and force its
leaders to flee from their former stronghold. JSOTF-P is now
replicating this approach on Jolo in a multi-year engagement
plan aimed at marginalizing the terrorists by restoring trust
in the AFP and local governments through targeted, rapidly
implemented infrastructure development projects, improved AFP
counterterrorism capabilities, and a Country Team coordinated
strategic communications effort.

¶14. (C) Building on JSOTF-P Successes: Primary contributing
factors for terrorism in the Sulu Archipelago are education
and unemployment. In the war to win local opinions and build
trust, initiatives that make a dramatic, tangible difference
in people’s lives can have a tremendous impact. JSOTF-P
teams on Jolo in consultations with local community leaders
identified a number of such projects, e.g., roads, wells,
schools, and sanitation that complement USAID’s longer-term
presence. A small amount of money, approximately $2.4
million, and Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP)
authority similar to other conflict areas confronting the
terrorist threat, could help JSOTF-P make this
multi-dimensional approach a success. The CERP is a proven
tool for civil infrastructure development in Iraq and
Afghanistan. It would provide JSOTF-P a high degree of
flexibility to meet immediate needs of civilians in
conflict-affected areas of Mindanao.

¶15. (C) A Similar Opportunity on Tawi Tawi: Tawi Tawi offers
a similar opportunity. JSOTF-P’s comprehensive series of
civil-military operations (CMO) projects planned for select
areas of the province could help reduce the influence of the
ASG and JI, who currently use Tawi Tawi as a major transit
point into and out of the Philippines. The proposed
deployment of the USNS Mercy, like the earlier visit of
Expeditionary Strike Group-1, in addition to regular ship
visits and exercises, can help reinforce JSOTF-P’s
civil-military operations in the Sulu Archipelago. The
long-awaited construction of a major bridge with USG
assistance would provide a further impetus to the promotion
of an economic environment helpful to combat terrorism and
reward those who make the choice away from terrorism. We
need to continue and develop these initiatives.

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