Oct 232014

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
2005-11-02 08:09
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.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 005126



E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/03/2015


¶B. MANILA 5018

Classified By: (U) Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Paul Jones
for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (S/REL AUSTRALIA) SUMMARY. Philippine Foreign Secretary
Romulo and Executive Secretary Ermita told visiting S/CT
Ambassador Crumpton they are optimistic about peace talks
with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), believing MILF
Chairman Murad has the ability to sell an agreement to his
rank and file. However, despite the MILF leadership’s
apparent commitment to fight terrorism, elements of the MILF
continue to provide sanctuary to Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and
Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) terrorists. Philippine analysts
believe the JI in the Philippines has split into two
coordinated, but separate factions. The bomb-making training
provided by the faction associated with Dulmatin and Patek
has given the ASG significance beyond its limited numbers,
and there are worrying signs of efforts to construct vehicle
borne explosive devices and interest in chemical-biological
weapons. The radical Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM) is a
concern, as well as Saudi-origin terrorist financing. Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Vice Chief of Staff Vice
Admiral De Los Reyes sees the Balikatan 02-1 “Basilan model”
of civil-military operations and improved counterterrorism
training as a template for other counterterrorism efforts.
Executive Secretary Ermita praised the USG rewards program as
an effective tool in efforts to track down terrorists. END

¶2. (C/REL AUSTRALIA) In a series of October 21 meetings,
Counterterrorism Coordinator Ambassador Henry Crumpton,
accompanied by Charge Jones, met all major figures in the
GRP’s counterterrorism community. Meetings included
discussions with Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita,
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto Romulo, Armed Forces of

the Philippines (AFP) Vice Chief of Staff Vice Admiral
Ariston De Los Reyes, Philippine National Police (PNP) Deputy
Chief for Operations Avelino Razon, and officials at the
National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) and the
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). (See
reftels for reporting on Charge Jones’ and Ambassador
Crumpton’s meetings with President Arroyo and Secretary of
National Defense Cruz.)


¶3. (C/REL AUSTRALIA) Secretary of Foreign Affairs Romulo
told Charge Jones and Ambassador Crumpton that MILF and GRP
negotiators were “almost there” on the issue of ancestral
domain, and forging ahead on other issues, with the mutual
sense that self-government was the key to a solution. Romulo
signaled out Malaysia, but also Indonesia and Brunei, for
their positive roles in supporting the peace process. He
said he believed the question of governance could be
addressed as part of federalism in the charter change
process, and Chairman Al Hadj Murad had the ability to sell a
peace agreement to the MILF rank and file.

¶4. (S/REL AUSTRALIA) Executive Secretary Ermita separately
praised the MILF leadership for being “reasonable.” During
the last six to eight months, the MILF as a whole had been
“very cooperative” against JI and ASG operatives, manifesting
a commitment to combat terrorism. Nonetheless, MILF
elements, particularly those associated with the Special
Operations Group (SOG), continued to provide sanctuary to

¶5. (S/REL AUSTRALIA) Ermita observed the designation of the
Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army
(CPP/NPA) as a terrorist organization had had a strategic
impact, cutting off the CPP/NPA’s ties to foreign funds.
Although not yet ready to designate the MILF as a terrorist
organization because of the peace talks, Ermita said he was
using the threat of designation as “a sword of Damocles” to
encourage the MILF to negotiate. He claimed the MILF
leadership was “scared stiff” of the prospect of being
designated as terrorists.


¶6. (C/REL AUSTRALIA) An overview briefing at NICA
highlighted the multiple threats confronting the GRP.
Uncertain economic conditions had led to growth in the
CPP/NPA insurgency. Although the number of ASG terrorists
had declined, JI influence and training had given the ASG
significance beyond its limited numbers.

¶7. (S/REL AUSTRALIA) According to NICA analysts, the JI
organization in the Philippines has split into two separate,
but coordinated, factions: one, the Philippine-based JI unit
Wakallah Hudeiba or WAHUD, and another, smaller spin-off
grouped around Dulmatin and Patek. This second faction had
provided short courses on improvised explosive devices (IEDs)
to the ASG, RSM, and elements of the MILF’s SOG, indicating
these groups were now collaborating.

¶8. (S/REL AUSTRALIA) The February 2004 Superferry 14 bombing
and the February 2005 “Valentine’s Day” bombings in Mindanao
and Manila indicated terrorist bomb-making skills were
becoming more sophisticated, employing cellphone detonators,
a JI signature. The discovery of 600 kilograms of explosive
materials in Manila shortly after the “Valentine’s Day”
bombings indicated terrorist interest in constructing a
vehicle borne IED using methodology similar to the 2002 Bali
bombing. A clear terrorist interest in chemical-biological
weapons, revealed by the discovery of “cookbooks” during an
October 2003 raid on a Cotabato safehouse used by Taufiq
Rifqe, and a growing predisposition towards jihadist language
and martyrdom were additional worrying signs. Given this
evidence, NICA analysts expressed strong skepticism about the
claim of some observers that the JI had shifted its approach
from Jihad to Islamization.

¶9. (S/REL AUSTRALIA) In a separate discussion of the JI
terrorist threat, PNP Deputy Director General (three-star
equivalent) Razon noted cultural, linguistic, and racial
similarities allowed JI terrorists from Indonesia to slip
easily into the Philippines through its porous back door and
blend in with the local population in Mindanao. (Note.
Chief Superintendent Ismael Rafanan, Director of the PNP’s
Intelligence Group, observed JI operatives, in order to
counter successful GRP efforts to monitor their cell phones,
had begun using couriers in some areas. End Note.)
According to Razon, President Arroyo is focused on this
threat, and had directed an increased PNP presence in
southern Filipino ports to screen arriving passengers. He
noted GRP officials had better contacts in Malaysia than in
Indonesia, where “the set up was different.” Razon said his
goal was to improve ties with his Indonesian counterparts.

¶10. (S/REL AUSTRALIA) Vice Admiral De Los Reyes, the AFP
Vice Chief of Staff, stated the growth of the RSM, composed
of radicalized Christian converts to Islam, was one of the
AFP’s greatest concerns. The ability of RSM adherents to
“blend in” made them much more dangerous than their Muslim
counterparts. RSM members perpetrated the 2004 Superferry 14
attack and were involved in the 2005 “Valentine’s Day”
bombings. Separately Malacanang Undersecretary Ric
Blancaflor noted the RSM numbered roughly 300 radicals, i.e.,
approximately one percent of the broader Balik Islam
movement, which did not espouse terrorism. Echoing De Los
Reyes’ concerns, Blancaflor observed that RSM members were
literate and urban, operating in financially independent and
self-sustaining cells, with some operatives having training
in JI camps in Mindanao.

¶11. (S/REL AUSTRALIA) Philippine officials noted their
continuing concern about Saudi-origin terrorist financing
coming into the Philippines under the cover of donations to
mosques, orphanages, and madrassahs. Although three Saudi
nationals suspected of being couriers had been detained on
separate occasions, Saudi Ambassador Wali had intervened in
each case to secure their release. PNP Chief Superintendent
Rafanan admitted the GRP had limited understanding of the
scope and nature of the terrorism financing problem in the
Philippines, conceding it was a “work in progress.”


¶12. (C/REL AUSTRALIA) AFP Vice Chief of Staff De Los Reyes
noted the success of the “Basilan model” in the Philippines,
i.e., the combined use of civil-military operations and
improved counterterrorism training to take back the former
ASG stronghold of Basilan during exercise Balikatan 02-1.
Socio-economic conditions continue to improve on the island,
proving the importance of humanitarian affairs/civil affairs
in the fight against terrorism. US support had helped a lot
in this, and other counterterrorism efforts, De Los Reyes
said. Ambassador Crumpton agreed Basilan represented the
template — socio-economic and tactical — of a successful
counterterrorism operation.

¶13. (S/REL AUSTRALIA) The AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for
Intelligence (J2), Rear Admiral Danga, observed that the
difficult terrain in central Mindanao, coupled with the
sanctuary provided by some MILF commanders, continued to
hamper operations against ASG and JI operatives. However,
the AFP was incorporating the lessons learned from its past
operations, and hoped to employ US-supplied proximity fuses
to good effect once intelligence identified an appropriate

——————————————— —-

¶14. (C/REL AUSTRALIA) Undersecretary Blancaflor, who is
shepherding the Arroyo Administration’s efforts to pass a
comprehensive anti-terrorism bill, was cautiously optimistic
about its chances of passing. Although he expected
Opposition Senators to grandstand, 16 out of 23 Senators had
signed the committee report endorsing the draft legislation,
and Senate President Drilon supported its passage. In the
236-member House, Blancaflor predicted nine CPP/NPA party
list members, 30 Opposition Congressman, and 12 Muslim
Congressman would oppose the bill. Another 50-60
pro-Administration lawmakers for various reasons likewise
opposed its passage; however, Blancaflor predicted these
Congressmen would fall into line once pushed by Speaker De


¶15. (S/REL AUSTRALIA) Executive Secretary Ermita praised the
USG rewards programs, saying “Jesse James posters work.” He
cited the example of ASG leader Hamsiraji Sali, whose first
cousin had led Scout Rangers to his hideout. The publication
of the $10 million reward for the JI terrorist Dulmatin had
generated a lot of publicity and stimulated efforts to track
him down, Ermita said, calling the USG rewards effort “quite

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http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm



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