Sep 162014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/04/07MANILA1187.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA1187 2007-04-16 09:25 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO6380
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1187/01 1060925
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 160925Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6079
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 001187

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/17/2017
TAGS: PREL PTER MOPS KISL RP
SUBJECT: ROGUE MNLF COMMANDER ON THE RUN

REF: MANILA 407

Classified By: CDA Paul W. Jones for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
raided and occupied several rogue Moro National Liberation
Front (MNLF) camps on Jolo Island on April 15 after a rogue
MNLF commander launched mortar attacks and ground assaults
that killed two Marines and one civilian. MNLF Commander
Habier Malik — a staunch supporter of detained MNLF Chairman
and current Sulu gubernatorial candidate Nur Misuari, who
remains an enigma — is now on the run, as sporadic and
localized fighting continues between his followers and
government security forces. All U.S. Special Operations Task
Force personnel are safe. Charge spoke with Presidential
Peace Advisor Secretary Dureza at the height of the fighting
on April 14; Dureza believed the fighting would be contained
despite calls by Malik for all Muslims to join “jihad”
against the government. This latest incident has further
isolated Malik from other MNLF leaders and followers, who
mostly desire peace, security, and development on Jolo. The
neutralization of Malik’s forces should help the AFP go after
near-by elements of the Abu Sayyaf Group more effectively.
End Summary.

——————————-
Mortar Attacks Trigger Fighting
——————————-

¶2. (C) On April 13-14, elements of the Moro National
Liberation Front (MNLF) under local commander Habier Malik
fired mortars and launched ground assaults against several
Philippine military detachments, leaving at least two
soldiers and one civilian dead as well as eleven others
injured. Some of the mortar shells apparently landed in
civilian areas near the Panamao High School and municipal
hall, where the U.S. Joint Special Operations Task
Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) and USAID have undertaken
numerous humanitarian projects. All JSOTF personnel on Jolo
are safe and accounted for. Embassy and JSOTF personnel were
in close contact throughout the fighting over the weekend.

¶3. (C) In retaliation, AFP troops overran two MNLF camps,
including Camp Jabal Uhod, forcing MNLF Commander Malik to
flee. Malik currently remains on the run while sporadic
fighting continues between his followers and government
security forces.

¶4. (C) Presidential Advisor on the Peace Process Jesus
Dureza privately expressed cautious optimism to Charge that
the fighting would remain localized. He believed Malik was
motivated by the killing of two rogue MNLF members during a
recent AFP operation against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

————–
Malik Isolated
————–

¶5. (C) According to MNLF Attorney Ombra Jainal, tensions
between MNLF Commander Malik and the AFP had been building
since February when Malik held National Capital Region
Commander Ben Mohammad Dolorfino and several other government
officials hostage for two days (reftel). Jainal underscored
that most MNLF commanders had not supported Malik’s
hostage-taking to secure a commitment for tri-partite talks
on the 1996 GRP-MNLF Peace Agreement.

¶6. (C) AFP contacts explained further to JSOTF-P personnel
that tensions had escalated sharply further when, beginning
on April 10, the AFP began evacuation operations of MNLF
personnel from Marang, Indanan in preparation for a planned
operation to capture near-by ASG leaders Radullon Sahiron,
Yasser Igasan, Dr. Abu, and Albader Parad. Despite
cooperation from most senior MNLF leaders, some local MNLF
sub-commanders chose to remain in the area, apparently
protecting a group of approximately 60 ASG members. By
April 12, Malik apparently ordered his troops to prepare to
fight the AFP, contrary to the MNLF/AFP concurrence on this
operation. MNLF Deputy Chief of Staff Almujahid Biao
reportedly met with Malik on the evening of April 12 to urge
compliance with the MNLF leadership’s decision to work with
the AFP, but Malik refused and continued to mass ground
forces (including both troops and civilian supporters) in the
Talipao area. Malik positioned his followers near Sapa
Malaum, Tayungan to blockade or possibly ambush AFP forces,
leading to the mortar attacks and small arms fire on April
13-14. Even during these attacks in Talipao and Panamao,
the AFP continued to coordinate with mainstream MNLF leaders
and conducted successful defensive operations, minimizing

MANILA 00001187 002 OF 002

collateral damage.

¶7. (C) Malik reportedly has called for assistance from other
MNLF fighters throughout the Autonomous Region in Muslim
Mindanao, but so far with limited or no success, according to
other MNLF commanders and leaders. Some MNLF commanders on
Jolo have raised white flags over their camps. According to
AFP Task Force Comet Commander Maj-Gen Ruben Rafael, at least
10 MNLF commanders have refused to cooperate with Malik and
are continuing to assist the government and AFP in operations
against criminal and terrorist elements.

——–
Comment:
——–

¶8. (C) Malik has been a bad seed among the MNLF for some
time. His latest actions seem to confirm repeated
allegations and AFP suspicions that he has been harboring or
protecting ASG and other terrorist elements on Jolo, while
passively or actively obstructing AFP operations against
them. His flight and further isolation — or possible
capture — could provide a real boon to AFP effectiveness in
its ongoing offensive on Jolo against terrorists. Meanwhile,
the reaction of the MNLF leadership and other MNLF commanders
has been welcome, as they seem to be turning their backs on
Malik, reflecting the desire of the local residents for
peace, security, and development on Jolo. Nur Misuari, in
his detention in Manila despite his ongoing campaign for Sulu
governor, remains an enigma. He has not publicly spoken on
these events. While Malik has been one of his most vocal
supporters, it would not appear that Malik’s actions would
help Nur Misuari in his candidacy for governor, and would
likely instead alienate the voters who support the peace
process and who have worked well with the AFP as well as
JSOTF-P and USAID to return life on Jolo to as close to
normalcy as they have enjoyed in decades.

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

You can also access this site through the State Department’s
Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/
JONES

   

 

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