US hand fingered in anti-Marwan operation
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—Inside a beach resort here, several Americans planned the Jan. 25 Philippine National Police operation in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao province, that took down Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” but cost the lives of 44 police commandos, 18 Moro rebels and four civilians.
An Inquirer source, who refused to be identified for security reasons on Thursday, said the Mamasapano operation was “fully funded by the US.”
“The Americans, who have a secret facility inside the La Vista del Mar Resort, planned and funded the operation,” the source said.
La Vista del Mar Resort, located in Upper Calarian village, some 6 kilometers from downtown Zamboanga province, is owned by the family of Rep. Celso Lobregat.
Sought for comment, Lobregat said by text message that he knew nothing about the training facility inside the resort.
The Inquirer on Thursday tried but failed to get comments from Malacañang, the Philippine National Police, the US Embassy and the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The source described the facility as having a blue gate and “occupied by the Americans and the biggest number of elite forces of the 84th Special Action Force (SAF) Company.”
Joel New, the barangay (village) chair of San Jose Gusu and a former employee of the resort, said the facility belonged to the SAF.
Trainers are Americans
“It’s a camp of the SAF and it is located beside the resort. They (SAF) do tactical operations training and swimming, including speedboat operations, there,” New said.
“Their trainers are Americans,” he added.
He said the Americans also stay at La Vista.
The Inquirer source said that since 2010, “five Oplans” had been planned in the facility.
He named three of the operational plans as “Wolverine,” “Transformer” and “Exodus.”
Oplan Exodus involved the Mamasapano operation.
‘Full partnership’ with FBI
In a statement issued on Wednesday announcing the results of preliminary DNA tests that showed Marwan was likely killed by police commandos in Mamasapano, David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation office in Los Angeles, said the bureau had a “full partnership” with the Philippine National Police, which he described as “one of the strongest in the world.”
Bowdich said the FBI would continue to work with the PNP “to identify, disrupt and dismantle terrorist networks.”
The Inquirer source said the SAF’s 55th Special Action Company was trained to support the 84th Company in executing Oplan Exodus.
“The training was no joke, especially for the 55th SAC. All their equipment were funded by the Americans. When they go to Maguindanao, an American, a supervisor of the La Vista facility, goes with them. All the expenses were shouldered by the Americans,” the source said.
He said he was sure the Americans were not US soldiers from the Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines (JSOTFP) based in the Western Mindanao Command.
“The JSOTFP has no direct involvement as they focused more on humanitarian missions. Those inside (La Vista) were more focused on getting Marwan. They have funds, state-of-the-art equipment and gadgets,” the source added.
He said the Armed Forces of the Philippines was kept in the dark on the Mamasapano operation after “four failed oplans,” when the military coordinated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) any action made in the rebel group’s controlled areas.
“When the oplans were implemented, Marwan escaped,” he said.
‘Purisima was here’
The source also said the suspended PNP chief, Director General Alan Purisima, was aware of what was happening inside La Vista.
“Purisima was here,” the source said.
He refused to give more details as it would endanger not only his life but also those of “the others.” He said all he wanted was for Congress to “look deeper” into the Mamasapano incident.
“Because of the Americans’ obsession to get Marwan, many SAF men died,” he said.
The source said 392 SAF commandos were sent to Maguindanao on Jan. 22. He said 42 from the 84th SAC were assigned to get Marwan and 36 from the 55th SAC to serve as blocking force.
The other 314 commandos were to serve as reinforcements, he said.
Focused on DNA sample
“The 55th SAC asked for reinforcement from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. These pleas for reinforcement were monitored by the Americans, but they did not do anything,” the source said.
The Americans, he said, were focused on the 84th SAC “because they have what they want—Marwan’s tissue sample.”
After killing Marwan, members of the 84th SAC cut off his right index finger to be used for DNA testing.
The source said the Americans used a drone to learn the exact location of the 84th SAC.
“This is why even if the 84th SAC men were located deeper in the area, only a few were killed. But the 55th SAC lost all but one of its men because no help from the Americans arrived,” the source said.
“We can’t take this anymore. I hope my colleagues would get the justice they deserve,” he said.
Of the 36 commandos from the 55th SAC who served as blocking force, only PO3 Robert Lalang survived. The 84th SAC lost nine members.
During the retrieval operations, US forces helped extricate the wounded SAF officers using a helicopter.
The Inquirer saw the white-and-green helicopter, manned by four US soldiers. –With a report from Christine O. Avendaño in Manila
Originally posted: 6:10 PM | Thursday, February 5th, 2015
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