WikiLeaks: Philippine south emerging as terrorist haven
December 15, 2010 4:43pm
A leaked cable message from United States diplomats in Australia in 2008 said southern Philippines is becoming the “favoured tilling ground” of the terrorist group al-Qaeda.
The secret US embassy cable, leaked to online whistle-blower WikiLeaks and provided exclusively toThe Age news site, said southern Philippines was emerging as a new terrorist haven.
According to an article posted on The Age on Wednesday, the head of Australia’s top intelligence agency, the Office of National Assessments (ONA), told American diplomats in October 2008 that al-Qaeda “ultimately has failed to achieve the strategic leadership role it sought within the Islamic world.”
The leaked US cable quoted ONA as saying that the Philippines’ counter-terrorism campaign was on an “ongoing downward slide.”
ONA cited the collapse of the government’s peace initiatives with rebel groups in southern Philippines, making the area “the new regional incubator of terrorist jihadis.”
A “jihadi” is an individual who participates in a “jihad.” The website “The History of Jihad” said the Arabic word “jihad” is derived from the root word Jahad meaning struggle.
However, the website said “Jihad has come to mean an offensive war to be waged by Muslims against all non-Muslims to convert them to Islam on the pain of death. Jihad is enjoined on all Muslims by the Quran.”
The Age report said “ONA terrorism specialists noted signals and human intelligence that JI (Jemaah Islamiyah ) structuralists embedded with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front were rethinking plans to return to Indonesia.”
“JI freelancers were becoming more active and better linked with Abu Sayyaf Group operatives,” The Age report added.
Philippines a “basket case”
Meanwhile, another report of The Age on Wednesday said a leaked US cable showed Australia’s top diplomats considered the Philippines a “basket case,” a colloquialism meaning “completely hopeless.”
The Age report said Australia’s diplomats consider their neighborhood “deeply troubled.”
“They describe China’s leadership as nervous, paranoid and uncertain but running rings around Japan. Thailand is unstable, the Philippines a basket case and East Timor a burden,” The Age report said.
The candid statements of Australia’s diplomats were reportedly contained in the cable message on the secret Australia-US political-military talks between the senior officials of both countries in October 2008.
The Age reported that Peter Woolcott, then the senior official for southeast Asia, said the political situation in Australia’s neighboring countries was ”messy.”
Woolcott cited “significant problems in the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Burma”.- Veronica Pulumbarit/HS, GMANews.TV