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WikiLeaks: MILF helped Philippine gov’t verify identities of terror suspects

/ 12:33 AM August 31, 2011

Ozamiz City, Philippines — A 2005 cable from the US Embassy in Manila recently released by WikiLeaks showed the rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) cooperating with government in validating identities of suspected terrorists.

During that time, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) provided the MILF with a “high priority” list of 53 suspected militants, which the rebel group committed to verify. The rebel group even asked for pictures of the suspects.

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The list includes 32 Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) members, 18 from the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), and three who are involved in high-profile kidnap-for-ransom activities.

According to the cable, the validated names “will form the foundation of jointly executed investigations and arrests using the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines)-MILF Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG).”

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The AHJAG is a mechanism jointly created by government and the MILF to coordinate efforts in the “interdiction of criminals” in rebel strongholds so that these law enforcement operations will not create undue provocation on its ground troops.

Government and the MILF have put in place a ceasefire regime since 1997 to provide an enabling atmosphere to their peace negotiations.

The 2005 cable was “unclassified” although its message was dubbed “sensitive.” It was prepared by Joseph Mussomeli, then deputy chief of mission of the US Embassy in Manila.

During his stint in the country, Mussomeli became controversial with his comments about Mindanao becoming the next Afghanistan.

After his Philippine assignment, Mussomeli served in US diplomatic missions in Cambodia and Afghanistan.

The leaked cable mentioned the observations of an unnamed MILF AHJAG official that “Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Pentagon Gang suspects can be arrested easily.”

The same official also noted that “Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) personalities are difficult to locate because they operate in isolated areas and are suspicious of outsiders.”

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The list of JI personalities sought to be validated included 31 Indonesians and a Malaysian. The list included Dulmatin and Umar Patek.

At that time, the JI members were said to be “mobile in central Mindanao.”

The list of ASG-affiliated personalities included Khadaffy Janjalani, Radullan Sahiron and Alonto Tahir.

Apart from Sulu, Basilan and Zamboanga City, the ASG suspects, at that time, were also seen either operating or holed up in Sultan Kudarat, General Santos City, South Cotabato and Maguindanao.

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TAGS: Abu Sayyaf group, Acts of Terror, Alonto Tahir, Armed Forces of the Philippines, armed rebellion, ASG, GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines)-MILF Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG), Jemaah Islamiyah, Khadaffy Janjalani, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro rebellion, Radullan Sahiron, terrorists, Wikileaks
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