Berserkers and a breather

The President’s fury at inept underlings made the evening news and was blogged extensively (one of the first to do so was Ang sa Wari Ko; while A Filipina Mom Blogger used it as a take off point for a discussion on stress management).

But it was Palace reporter Jove Francisco who put the exhibition of presidential temper in its proper context:

She’s naturally stern and “mataray” and I believe she’s been using this trait so that she’ll get things running and will make her officials more responsible and quick moving. Sabi nga nung sassy reporter di ba, being mataray isn’t really a bad thing.

But seeing her actions this noon.

The outburst?

The overflow of emotions?

I couldn’t help but compare it with past incidents.

Before, her taray ways surfaced for a reason, for an aim.

Today?

What happened, sadly, showed that she wasn’t able to control her emotions.

Sure, the outburst was borne out of frustration because of the inefficiency of her staff. (Pareho lang kapag pinapagalitan ang mga opisyales niya nuon di ba?)

BUT, it can’t be denied that this time, she looked like she was whining.

She knew that the media was there to see and cover the whole thing, but she continued with the histrionics. The drama escalated, it didn’t taper down.

She didn’t appear like she was in control.

I can even dare say that she appeared like she’s gone ROCK BOTTOM. (Just look at her resigned but angry look when she finally emerged to deliver her statement.)

And that is quite telling.

I agree with him. A president with a temper is nothing new, and it could even be argued that Filipino-style management seems to require a volcanic fury to get underlings to get things done. In itself, it is neither unpresidential or unseemly. She’s displayed her temper before. But what was different was that the President displayed a different kind of anger altogether.

Tempers are flaring. See The Geisha Diaries, and in Dumaguete, see village idiot savant. Though mercifully, the initial heat has given way to more sober reflection (see Techniquement, c’est art who responds to a previous entry of his).

One blogger, the cat is out, simply puts forward her grim personal experience in the past:

years back – as i kid i had witnessed and live through the horror of war in mindanao. i have been a refugee in my own country. not everyone is lucky enough to live through it . but there will always be the scar: physical and emotional that will keep on reminding me/us..of the pain we have suffered.

mindanao – the land of promise..or should i say broken promises..we are the bread basket of the phillipines, yet our people are hungry.. we are the only contiguous island the philippines has.. yet within, we are so divided in hearts and minds..year after year of conlficts have only produced military generals but not concrete resolutions to peace and development. not even a signed moa can end this violence i tell you..

i did not know how the war started back then…i do not know how it will end.

Today’s Inquirer editorial looks at the recent conduct of MILF troops and raises a question: if the violence in Mindanao was perpetrated by rogue or lost commands of the MILF, how, then, can it be deemed capable of administering the proposed BJE?

The editorial also points to this press statement by the MILF, while over at The PCIJ blog, Soliman Santos suggests the further radicalization of Moros if hostilities continue. He points to this commentary (“Reality Check” by Ibrahim Canana) that appeared on the MILF website (incidentally also validating my opinion concerning the importance of signing the agreement in the presence of representatives of foreign powers, including the OIC representative): it is a concise and lucid articulation of the Moro interpretation of their history and of the MILF position vis a vis the Philippine state. And it is uncompromising in its conclusion:

 

The political opposition to the MOA-AD that spurred the nationwide reaction against the MILF and the Bangsamoro people has dangerously transformed a peace process that is supposed to bring reconciliation to two peoples at war with each other into a grim scenario that allows no space for the Moros to have a breathing spell.

Through the MNLF, the Moros asked for a meaningful political autonomy in 1976. Instead they were granted a fake one by the GRP under the Marcos regime using the 1976 Tripoli Agreement which allowed constitutional processes to shortchange the Moros. In 1996, the Moros again under the MNLF demanded for meaningful political autonomy; and again what they were given in the so-called MNLF-GRP Final Peace Agreement (FPA) was the ARMM, which was created before the FPA and whose autonomy was clipped by the Philippine constitution. Inevitably, the ARMM ended up reduced to merely being an extension of the Office of the Philippine President. Later, it was even taken out of MNLF hands and became a political prize awarded to the Moro warlord most loyal and subservient to the sitting regime.

Now, under the MILF, the Moros want to recover whatever little is left of their ancestral domain and be given the chance to govern themselves as a sub-state entity within the larger Philippine nation-state. Peace on the basis of justice is about to be achieved under this formula. But even this does not sit well with the Filipino elite, the politicians, the Church and the Filipino colons in Mindanao. They have sabotaged the efforts of their own government. All, including those who claimed to be sympathetic to the plight of the Bangsamoro people like Senator Aquilino ‘Nene’ Pimentel, Jr., have ganged up against the Bangsamoro people to prevent them from even reclaiming areas which they now actually occupy and where they are the majority. The result: back to square one. Mindanao again is on the edge of an all-out war.
The selfishness of the Filipino ruling elite in general and the Filipino politicians in particular is dumbfounding. Their lack of sense of justice is appalling. They and their drumbeaters in the Philippine media can lie through their teeth and still have a nice sleep at night. Imagine telling the public the fantastic spin that Malaysia is arming the MILF and the Americans are behind the Moros’ desire to be an “independent Islamic State”. Why, they can’t even make sense of their allegations and lies! You can never find any mention of an “independent Islamic state” in the MOA-AD even if the pages were turned upside down. To even say that the Americans are behind the attempt by the MILF to create a “Bangsamoro Islamic State” is absurd. What fantasy! What ignorance! Hollywood hogwash has taken grip of the Filipino mind that it no longer knows what is real and what is imaginary. No wonder why the Philippine nation-state is moribund.

No wonder why tens of thousands of Filipinos are leaving this country for good. Now I can better appreciate the context of what Ustadz Salamat Hashim, the late MILF Amir, said when he stated that we should not believe the Filipino unbelievers even when they say that the crow is black!

What needs to be stated here for the record is that we Moros are not inclined to abandon our homeland to these vultures. We will fight for it as our ancestors fought for it. The mestizo leftovers of the Spaniards such as the likes of Teddy Locsin and Lobregat, and Filipino colons in Mindanao like Piñol as well as their capitalist patrons ensconced in Makati can go hang themselves from nearest lamp post for all we care. The Moros will fight. MILF Base Commander Ustadz Amirul Ombra Cato will not be alone. A war in Mindanao will drag down this pathetic, artificial country and its government to perdition. Perhaps this time we will no longer settle for a sub-state or a federative arrangement with the Filipinos. It’s useless anyway because they would never grant it. They would always insist this is ‘secession’ even if we do not have the intention to secede. So let’s give them a dose of their own medicine. Let’s aim for independence this time. For real. Like what the Algerians did when their clamor for autonomous rule was repeatedly and violently denied by the French colons. Given the Filipinos’ hostile attitude to anything Moro and Muslim, there is no other option left. This is now the reality facing us.

The mention of Algeria is signficant. It had been considered an integral part of France; de Gaulle, faced with a nationalist uprising, decided to abandon the French settlers and recognize Algeria’s independence; at one point, the French armed forces tried to mount a coup against de Gaulle. Yet independence hasn’t prevented the rise of Islamic extremism in Algeria. The problem is Arroyo is no de Gaulle.

The frustration of the writer quoted above with suggestions the Americans are in league with the MILF (or that the MILF is being armed by the Malaysians, when obviously political and even financial support is plenty of help and there are many AFP members willing to sell arms to the MILF anyway) isn’t about to change the mind of say, Tony Abaya (who says it boils down to the MILF being, in American eyes, more dependable than Christian leaders) or blogger Philippine Politics 04.

And the thing is, if one presents a narrative, even a counter-narrative, it will never end (if Moros can assert they achieved a “higher plane” of political existence with the sultanates, then by any measure a republic trumps any hereditary principality in terms of political evolution) and be trumped, always by what wars always end up being about: real estate.

In his column today, Manuel Buencamino points to the problem on focusing too much on the past as a justification for the present:

Why did the Arroyo administration agree to the MILF’s self-serving historical timeline?

Islam is no more indigenous than Christianity. The Spaniards were not our first colonizers. Luwaran, the MILF web site, does not deny that Moros are products of an earlier colonization:

“Ameen [secretary general of the MILF Central Committee] recalled that the history of the Moros and IPs [indigenous peoples] is one and inseparable, but noted that the former were always the ‘bigger brother’ while the latter [was] the ‘younger brother.’ ” Moros “have developed a higher plane of political existence” than lumads because they converted to Islam and adopted the sultanate system.

In that same Sona, Gloria Arroyo lamented that although Mindanao was a food basket, “it has some of the highest hunger in our nation.” For this sad state of affairs, she blamed “the endless Mindanao conflict.” Her solution to ending the endless conflict was to capitulate to the MILF.

Arroyo knows the BJE does not fit into the 1987 Constitution, so she asked Congress “to act on the legislative and political reforms that will lead to a just and lasting peace during our term of office.”

Unfortunately, a “just and lasting peace” through a refitting of the BJE into our Constitution won’t be possible during or after her term of office.

There will be conflicts between the lumads and the MILF, between Christians and the MILF, between Manila and the MILF over jurisdiction, ownership of lands, mineral rights, natural resources and a host of other irritants that come from drawing lines on a map without regard for its inhabitants.

There will be power struggles among self-appointed Moro leaders – the Maranao-dominated MILF, the Tausog-dominated MNLF and the traditional politicians of Mindanao – over control of the BJE.

“Better talk than fight, if nothing of sovereign value is anyway lost,” counseled Gloria Arroyo in her Sona.

Unfortunately, talking nonsense will lead to loss not only of sovereign value but also, and more important, of property. And for that, most people will fight to the death.

For the Christian (Ilonggo) side, HabagatCentral Republic offers up a personal reflection buttressing Buencamino’s insight:

There were cases of outright land grabbing from the ancestral domains of the Moros and Lumads who were then ignorant about the Western concept of “private property” as the lands were considered “communal” and for all people to share. Land grabbing that lead to land conflicts. Land conflicts that lead to bloodshed, my grandfather himself was a victim of this trechery.

I have relatives in Mindanao who have hated the Moros. They are backward, backstabbers and barbarian. Di daw dapat sila pagkakatiwalaan. Di ko rin sila masisisi. They’ve seen their love ones slaughtered by the Moro raids of the towns especially during the 1970’s. The very foundation of Ilaga, a vigilante group composed of mostly Kristyanos and some Lumads, was borne out of reaction against the Moros. They sow terrorism in the hearts of the Moros as they kill them with reported cannibal activities. As a reaction, the Moros established their own vigilante group known as the Blackshirts/Barracudas. So the question, is terrorism a Moro problem?

MNLF/MILF & AFP has instigated a somewhat revolutionary violence. The former is for the seperation of the Mindanao that they claim is rightfully theirs, and I understand them. They weren’t subjugated by the Spaniards and was never converted to Christianity as what they define as “Filipino.” They are fiercely independent and will fight for what is right. The latter on the other hand defends the Philippines and its sovereignity. Their causes are noble yet the effects to ordinary civilians were catastrophic. Casualties have reached over a hundred thousand for years of war with each other in Mindanao. No matter how noble their causes are, it is still somewhat politically-culturaly motivated. In the end, the civilians still suffer.

In my opinion, I would still uphold MILF as a revolutionary movement still. Abu Sayyaff on the other hand is just pure banditry using Islam as an excuse to their savagery. The latter in my belief is the salot. The former on the other hand has still a handful of options to sit and talk what is necessary. For the betterment of their own peoples.

Ewan ko lang pero parang hindi ko maiwasan na ibuntong ang sisi sa Pamahalaang Arroyo sa mga pangyayaring ito ngayon na muling gumigimbala sa kapayapaan ng Mindanao at Pilipinas. I went there several years ago and I was seeing optimism that finally, Mindanao can move on towards peace and progress. That the government is seating alongside with the rebels. But because of the sudden declaration of the signing of the Memo of Agreement for the Bangsamoro Judirical Entity, Mindanao was thrown into state of panic, may it be the Kristyanos, the Moros and even the Lumads.

I’ve restrained myself from looking into other blogs of the Kristyanos and even of the Moros… Its really frustrating. Parang sumulpot muli ang inate hatred towards each other. I got frustrated with this notion but I couldn’t blame them why. I understand them. But is violence or war really the solution to ever-lasting peace in this island or in this country? Care to look at Palestine perhaps? You may have crushed the rebels but you haven’t ceased yet the root of struggle. Hanggang dahon at sanga lang… pero yung ugat di pa napapatay. Purging Moro ideals to the point of genocide is of murder, that is outright savagery! So what do we do then? How can we help to stop the vicious cycle.

I was thinking then that this animosity of ours will be brought towards the end of human civilization.

Ano kaya ang tamang solusyon sa Mindanao/Bangsamoro Problem? Ridu rin ba kaya o ubusan ng lahi?

As far as making sense of events, As blogger smoke asks what many are asking: was the President even thinking?

The thing is this – the President’s men (and therefore the President herself) dangled the idea of the BJE in front of the bandits and sold themselves on the idea that it would work. This played them right into the bandit’s hands: by putting all their eggs in the BJE basket, the President’s men gave the bandits the opportunity to set up an ultimatum – give us the BJE or we start shooting again.

When the BJE was scuttled the bandits got their casus belli. Now admittedly its a flimsy rationale for the resumption of hostilities, but it is just solid enough to rile up the cannon-fodder and convince them that they’ve been shafted and therefore need to avenge their slighted pride. It’s Moro psychology 101, if anyone had bothered to check.

And that’s the point: the Commander-in-Chief is supposed to be able to take in the whole picture; to understand how various factors all contribute to the outcome. In this case, because the President’s men were allowed – perhaps even encouraged – to formulate a do-or-die solution, it is clear that there were critical factors that were ignored, not the least of which is the very well known tendency of Moros to exaggerate insults to their pride.

In hostage negotiation, one of the most basic lessons is to never say no to the hostage taker. But then again, this also covers situations where saying ‘yes’ sets you up to say ‘no’ later. Let me clarify: by saying yes to the idea of a BJE, the President’s men were committing to an outcome that was not in their control. It was stupid for them to imagine that the BJE would slip through unnoticed. More to the point, the President’s men simply failed to anticipate a negative outcome, i.e., the BJE would be challenged and stopped. So, by saying yes, to the BJE, they were blindly rushing into a future where – when the Supreme Court invalidates the MOA for instance – they would have no choice but to say no to the BJE. And there you go, they said NO to the hostage taker.

This turn of events led the hostage taker – the bandits – to now feel backed into a corner. The only way out of that corner would have been a MOA for the BJE. But with no MOA forthcoming, and the additional insult of the ARMM elections being conducted, the bandits embraced the belief that there would be no other solution than to come out with their guns blazing. No solutions. War.

But using Occam’s razon, blogger Tongue In, Anew returns to the blogosphere and puts forward this thought-provoking analysis of the situation: it was all, and remains, simple, really. According to the blogger (who, while anonymous, has had very interesting entries in the past, suggesting an individual who is plugged-in), it’s all a charade:

Assperon’s appointment to the Peace portfolio was suspect way back… Not to mention the Ass was then joiningGen. Boogie Mendoza, a former Razon protege, and an “acclaimed anti-terrorist expert”…

On the other side of the fence, a separatist front of freedom fighters on Mondays, Abu Sayyaf kidnappers on Tuesdays, Jemaah Islamiya trainees on Wednesdays, lost command on Thursdays, devout Muslims on Fridays, and plain farmers and merchants on weekends. Overseen by their provisions suppliers from Malaysia.

Now what do we have? A highly volatile cocktail made up of an administration struggling for perpetual survival, high-profile GWOT freaks looking for an opportunity to expand their military control and a wayward army of bandits all of them intelligent enough to know that peace was doomed in the first place but insist that they might just be able to pull it through.

No, Gloria didn’t plan to dismember the country via the MOA-AD, she knows it’s unconstitutional, luckily, the legit opposition saw through her, she even had to use her allies to petition for a TRO which her SC appointees readily obliged to. She was expecting widespread retaliation but the MILF hierarchy surprisingly held back, her emergency rule cannot be imposed! No martial law, no chacha either. Doom! The Ass’ loyal generals immediately had to scramble for the “Lost Commanders” Kato and Bravo who have been burning villages left and right in the past yet no sincere effort to bring them to justice was ever taken (You now have an idea why Kabalu insists these commanders were not ordered by MILF to do so). They needed them to jump start this stage of the war to put Plan B into action. Funny but Eid Kabalu hasn’t announced an all-out offensive yet. Nor has Puno and Teodoro. Who wants to really finish the war after all? Even Misuari’s MNLF are now wearing their old uniforms to defend their own territory. Against whom? The gov’t? MILF? Or the Lost Command?

Gloria’s “Defend every inch of the territory” spiel was predictably looking for just the right moment to be announced so she blew her top after finding out her staff had not even prepared the teleprompter.

This view puts forward the possibility that the administration wanted to maneuver the country into a situation permitting a state of emergency, while others in the military hierarchy quite possibly, refrained from cooperating fully, and the MILF command declined to do the government any favors. Offering a reward, accompanied by statements that only individuals, and not the entire MILF movement, will be deemed outlaws, provides an opening for tensions to subside. And all the while, the jitters continue. Blogging from Iligan City, preMEDitated recounted, yesterday:

Panic struck the city center earlier this night. People flocked to the City Hall for protection by military forces stationed there. Text messages soon followed warning of imminent MILF attacks.
Much of the rest of the populace is now in anticipatory mood.
General Luna of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has issued his statement for the populace to remain calm and to trust in them. He has also appealed to the citizens not to forward these messages as they only bring more harm than good.

PS I just heard this piece of news. It seems that this incident was sparked by a drunk who shouted,”M-I*.”

*A word used around here for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) terrorists.

See also My Life, also writing on Tuesday:

Early tonight many people got panic because of that rumors that there were sightings of MILF in Iligan City. My family and neighbors freak out because they said that MILF are already in the near barangay Abuno and a lot of jeepneys from the City went back when they reached Tubod Bridge, going to south because they said that MILF is on the way. Many people were on the city streets because they wanted to evacuate. And this is confirm as a false alarm by our city mayor Lawrence Lluch Cruz, that is was just the soldiers that was seen and they thought that they are MILF. He said that there are many soldiers around the city that some mistaken them as MILF already maybe its because of the happenings in Lanao del Norte. He just stated on a news break at ABS – CBN that Iligan City is still safe from MILF and asking those who left their homes to go back already. I hope all this conflict will stop soon.

From Dipolog City, jOnAviE’s Site writes (today),

M.I.L.F or Moro Islamic Liberation Front is on war against Arm Forces of Philippines..As a girl who lives Mindanao (a place where there are many Muslim, but I am not one of them) it’s usual to hear news that Mindanao was that, was this, but you know August 2008 War was the only war that makes my province Zamboanga del Norte and my City, Dipolog to be afraid… Afraid because the whole Mindanao was really involve, the MILF want all the regions in Mindanao to be included in MOA or ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) to expand their teritory… Everybody was really panicking.. Even in my city, we receive Bomb Treats and War Rumors, and what did we did..? We packed up our things then really really get ready for what would happen. Last night we sleep at 1 a.m. because of it..

Returning to Tongue in Anew’s suggestion that the Palace was operating on simple assumptions -that it’s hands would be tied by predictable behavior on the part of the opposition and the MILF, which didn’t pan out as the former was caught napping and the latter more subtle and cunning than expected.

So it strikes me as possible there was a clumsy effort to promote war jitters to try to get the country to rally around the President: because it explains why the Palace proved so tolerant of the demagoguery of Pinol, etc. who, considering the administration’s intolerance for dissent, could easily have been slapped down, taken aside, or simply bribed to pipe down at a delicate time when the administration was claiming to be seriously behind the RP-MILF agreement.

What complicates the situation is that the public, unaware of the plots-within-plots on both sides, or the factions that exist within the ranks of the leadership of both sides, or that the leaders either do not believe their own propaganda, or worse, believe it- has its passions inflamed by the increasingly martial rhetoric of leaders who know the game of posturing quite well and who can therefore discount it.

Certainly this seems too quick a surrender: MOA deal off, SolGen tells high tribunal.

And it may be that this time, the MILF leadership, beholden to Malaysia, etc., is being more responsible and trying to defuse the situation while saber-rattling, than the government: we forget that the MILF command had a choice to fully endorse the attacks but it did not, equivocating its official response might have been (but even equivocation is understandable in terms of the factional dynamics of any revolutionary organization). And other groups are trying to restore the momentum to reestablish at least the semblance of a brittle peace.

At the heart of these efforts are three simple ideas:

1. That if one side will insist that it is negotiating sincerely for peace, there must be a corresponding assumption the other side is also negotiating sincerely. That furthermore, national interests aside, it is in the regional interest of foreign countries to help foster peace in Mindanao.

2. That all lose when fighting resumes and all sides gain so long as discussions are ongoing, which provides a venue for differences to be threshed out, compromises arrived at, and a consensus reached.

3. That both sides have extremists who not only do not represent the majority view, but who have also figured out how their constituencies can be agitated by withholding information and an overall lack of confidence in the authorities.

As Earthly Explorations puts it (who is not for a separate Moro homeland),

The government is trying to make it appear as it was the Moro rebels fault that they hit the first strike but if you hear other sources especially the locals they were just protecting their properties. Who was taking what from whom? Or someone is maneuvering into something to make it appear as a religious war diverting the people’s attention?

Mon Casiple warned of the administration “playing the emergency card”:

The scenario is one where a justification for a state of emergency happens. Violent incidents increasingly happen and spread. The AFP is increasingly forced to defend towns and villages. The MILF, in turn, increasingly turn to its own offensives in order to defend Moro communities. In no time at all, we are into a deepened conflict until the military is convinced to agree to a declaration of a state of emergency.

For a national state of emergency to happen, there has to be demonstrated to exist a credible threat to the national seat of power in the National Capital Region, a nationwide state of war or terror, or attacks on national political leaders. The level of the resurgent conflict in Mindanao — even if it spreads to other areas in Mindanao — cannot yet justify this drastic option.

However, the next days or weeks bear watching because of the political scenario of charter change that requires neutralizing the opposition and terrorizing the people. With the recent show of widespread opposition to Malacañang’s charter change plans, only the emergency card is left to play.

Let us hope that desperate people do not cross the line of sanity.

Beyond hoping, this is a time to add your voice, not in endorsement of one particular proposal or another, but to voices opposed to conflict. Charo Logarta, a military wife, puts it this way:

Whatever it is, there’s gotta be a better option to this. The majority must be allowed peace and harmony. We have to end decades of strife and conflict. We, the majority, deserve better. Military wives and kids do not have to endure loss. Soldiers don’t have to die for causes that don’t even matter to many average Filipinos who simply want a better life.

Just think how optimistic most people were in Mindanao a year ago. And how, now, plans involving Mindanao are all on hold. See Stacy Nelson.

317 comments

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    • grd on August 23, 2008 at 4:27 am

    PSI,

    as I wrote earlier, arming civilians will just exacerbate the problem but I cannot speak for those people who were directly affected by the atrocities committed by the milf. we can’t blame them if that’s what they’re clamoring right now. but it’s the job of the govt to protect them.

    as for davao, it’s generally peaceful and far from those war-torn areas. no need for cvo’s. there were some vigilante groups before but they fought the npa’s not mnlf/milf.

    • UP n student on August 23, 2008 at 7:06 am

    to grd and jcc:

    . . . . Last weekend (March 2008) saw the first Catholic church open in Qatar. Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, rather than facilitating similar freedoms for the large religious minorities in the country, leading Saudi clerics were busy curtailing the freedoms of Saudi writers.

    In the brain-numbing intellectual environment of Saudi universities, muzzled press and censored bookshops, we rarely ever see dissent or creativity. . . . . And yet, occasional glimmers of hope shine on the horizon.

    Saudi writers Yusuf Aba al-Khail and Abdullah bin Bejad al-Otaibi have started a rigorous debate inside Saudi Arabia about the right of Muslims to adopt other religions with impunity. Rather than address their strong scriptural and intellectual reasoning, a leading Saudi cleric has called for the writers’ deaths, unless they “repent”.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/mar/20/reforminriyadh

    And then, there is the Big Neighbor….

    BEIJING (AP) – A group of American Christians who had more than 300 Bibles confiscated by Chinese customs officials left the airport Monday after a 26-hour standoff, saying they realized officials would not change their stance.

    Members of Vision Beyond Borders, who arrived in the southwestern city of Kunming on Sunday while the Olympic Games were being staged in Beijing, had previously said they would not leave the airport until the communist authorities returned the 315 Bibles, taken from their checked luggage.
    . . . . .
    BEIJING (AP) – A group of American Christians who had more than 300 Bibles confiscated by Chinese customs officials left the airport Monday after a 26-hour standoff, saying they realized officials would not change their stance.

    Members of Vision Beyond Borders, who arrived in the southwestern city of Kunming on Sunday while the Olympic Games were being staged in Beijing, had previously said they would not leave the airport until the communist authorities returned the 315 Bibles, taken from their checked luggage.
    . . . .
    The Bibles were printed in Chinese . . . . and were intended for Chinese Christians.

    “The Chinese Christians have been asking us for Bibles, saying they are desperate for Bibles,” he said.

    Religious practice is heavily regulated by the Communist Party, with worship allowed only in party-controlled churches, temples and mosques, while those gathering outside risk harassment, arrest and terms in labor camps or prison.

    In China, Bibles are printed at just one plant, run by a government-backed Christian association for use in officially sanctioned churches. Though they can be purchased in some bookstores, they’re hard to find.

    A fax from the customs officials in Kunming to the AP said that under Chinese law, foreigners can only bring in one to three copies of religious products for personal use. For more than that, letters of proof must be obtained from the religious affairs office of China, it said. This policy was explained to the Americans, the fax said.

    [Note: The state-run China Daily reported last month (July 2008) that 10,000 bilingual copies of the Bible would be distributed in the Olympic Village, which houses athletes and media.]

    • UP n student on August 23, 2008 at 7:08 am

    to grd and jcc:


    . . . . Last weekend (March 2008)
    saw the first Catholic church open in Qatar. Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, rather than facilitating similar freedoms for the large religious minorities in the country, leading Saudi clerics were busy curtailing the freedoms of Saudi writers.

    In the brain-numbing intellectual environment of Saudi universities, muzzled press and censored bookshops, we rarely ever see dissent or creativity. . . . . And yet, occasional glimmers of hope shine on the horizon.

    Saudi writers Yusuf Aba al-Khail and Abdullah bin Bejad al-Otaibi have started a rigorous debate inside Saudi Arabia about the right of Muslims to adopt other religions with impunity. Rather than address their strong scriptural and intellectual reasoning, a leading Saudi cleric has called for the writers’ deaths, unless they “repent”.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/mar/20/reforminriyadh

    • KG on August 23, 2008 at 7:39 am

    More on catholics in Saudi Arabia.

    sumali ako at may ilink ako,baka nalimutan natin madaming pinoy sa 800,000 catholics sa saudi.

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1723715,00.html?xid=feed-cnn-topics

    http://www.pewsitter.com/view_news_id_7306.php

    • jcc on August 23, 2008 at 8:00 am

    KG,

    This is what i gathered from the link you have provided:

    Top Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said that a Catholic parish in this key Islamic country would be “a historic achievement” in the push to expand religious freedom and foster a positive interfaith rapport. Under Benedict, the Catholic hierarchy has stepped up calls from its Muslim counterparts for “reciprocity,” demanding that the same religious freedom enjoyed by Muslims in the West should be granted to Christian minorities in the Islamic world. They note that Europe’s biggest mosque, built with Saudi funds, was opened in 1995 in Rome, just across the river from the Vatican.

    It is only now that the Saudis are trying to liberalize its approach towards other faiths. Which confirms my previous post that in the past, christians faith are being tacitly discouraged by the Saudis. Iran has an intorelant about christians faith.

    • jcc on August 23, 2008 at 8:04 am

    grd,

    christians persecutions does not always mean killing the christians. there are more subtle ways of persecution like not allowing you to pray in public like the muslims do, dsitribute christians literature and disallowing gatherings for worship. some muslims countries are relaxing their policy towards inter-faiths, but up to what extent, that remains to be seen.

    • hvrds on August 23, 2008 at 8:55 am

    “”christians persecutions does not always mean killing the christians. there are more subtle ways of persecution like not allowing you to pray in public like the muslims do, dsitribute christians literature and disallowing gatherings for worship. some muslims countries are relaxing their policy towards inter-faiths, but up to what extent, that remains to be seen.” How a subjective becomes the objective criterion of reality. ”

    Firstly, the Wahabists in Saudi Arabia are the most crazy of the crazies. The royal family had always been either captured or used this most crazy sect to assist them in their almost absolute rule in Saudi Arabia.

    Almost like the shamans and or witch doctors.

    Simply taking a cultural sect (that was politicized) that is predominant in one area of the Muslim world and making a general statement about them is wrong.

    Another aspect recently that has come to the fore is the reversion of many of the pundits on this blog to revert to the tribal psyche that is still deeply embedded in the pinoy.

    • hvrds on August 23, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Another amazing thing is the fact that GMA was about to sign (through her DFA secretary) that MOA-AD in front of the world and now says that the same document that she was about to sign is flawed!!!!!!

    She even tried to push it along by mentioning her stand on federalism (euphemism for shift to unicameral parliamentary system)

    Yet some would argue that a certain journalist did a disservice to the pinoy nation internationally by exposing the Queen losing it…

    Today we see her showing the world the pinoy version of “shock and awe” and we have they say 200K displaced persons from the intensified fighting.

    That is twice the number in Georgia that the world is responding to.

    So finally cha-cha is dead till after 2010.

    Someone had better educate the government the difference between strategy and policy….and the military brass the difference between strategy and operations.

    The policy was to allow armed men certain autonomy as a strategy to work towards peace. That was a given. The state even knows and describes certain factions of the MILF as “base commands”

    Coordinated attacks have occurred from some of these commands. Now the state is responding versus the respective base commands with the largest shock and awe tactics for a long time.

    It wants the heads of the two base commands. Is this a police action or a declaration of war?????

    The criticism of the Russian response was disproportionate force.

    Is GMA trying to counter her incompetence by unsheathing her sword???

    Now the state has declared that no talks will continue unless those responsible be given up to face charges……

    Wow, if the British demanded from Sinn Fein that they give up the bombers so peace talks would continue would there have been peace talks at all?????

    Is there a brain at the top???????

    These tribal mindset is still so predominant and thus the ideals of communities and nation is still so alien….

    The people of Manila could not care less about those 200K people now forced to become internal refugees.

    • UP n student on August 23, 2008 at 10:00 am

    hvrds: How can use the term “… declaration of war” when the Govt-Pinas military action is against only two MILF commands — Commander Bravo’s MILF 102nd Base Command and Comm Kato’s MILF 105th Base Command. The two commanders Bravo and Kato assaulted civilian populations — village-burning, murder, use of civilian shields — without authorization from the MILF-BIAF General Staff Command.

    The govt-Pinas is not taking action against the rest of the MILF/BIAF commanders.

    • jcc on August 23, 2008 at 10:12 am

    if no one believes that the christians are being persecuted one way or another by the muslim worlds, you can click these links to find out:

    http://www.christianpersecution.info/news/saudi-arabia-muslim-father-kills-daughter-for-converting-to-christianity-14592/

    http://www.christianpersecution.info/news/iran-jailed-christian-in-critical-condition/

    http://www.christianpersecution.info/news/iran-tortured-christian-flees/

    this one you should read if you do not believe that christians are treated fairly in Muslim countries.

    http://judeo-christianalliance.org/materials/ChristianPersecutedThroughoutTheMiddleEast.pdf

    • UP n student on August 23, 2008 at 10:23 am

    to grd: click here for “stuff” happening in Saudi Arabia…. has mention of Filipinos under threat of execution.

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/middle-east-and-north-africa/west-gulf/saudi-arabia

    • hvrds on August 23, 2008 at 10:53 am

    http://www.islamicweb.com/begin/population.htm

    Please note the number of Muslims around the world and the number in Saudi Arabia.

    • hvrds on August 23, 2008 at 11:03 am

    For followers of Christ and Mohammed

    “My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest. The artificial structures they have built on the purest of all moral systems, for the purpose of deriving from it pence and power, revolts those who think for themselves, and who read in that system only what is really there.”

    -Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Mrs. Samuel H. Smith, August, 6, 1816

    “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”

    -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814

    “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.”

    -Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.

    For the Koran as with the Bible

    “The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills.”

    -Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, January 24, 1814

    • UP n student on August 23, 2008 at 11:04 am

    But of course, I have made the assumption that you — grd — consider Amnesty International a reasonably-unbiased organization…. I mention this because I have encountered a couple of internet sites that assault the credibility of Amnesty International — “AmInternational is a puppet of the United Kingdom or of the CIA or of the Vatican”… or the worst insult — a French site!!!!. 😛

    I mean…. even reports by Russia, Japan, the UNICEF, Organization of American States or the United Nations Special Rapporteurs do not get 100% approval rating.

    • leytenian on August 23, 2008 at 11:26 am

    The Life of Women in War torn Mindanao:

    A woman said, she did not know exactly why the war ensues but she has seen the war from her childhood until she left Mindanao only three years ago. She hears about the war that affects her family up to now. Although she does not know the root causes of the war, she know very well the effects of the consistent military operations in Mindanao. She sharply pointed out that the war hindered their livelihood and the development of Mindanao in general, especially in the outskirts where they live. She also symphatizes with her fellow civilian muslims who are harassed and arbitrarily arrested by the military.

    Lastly, most children in war zones in Mindanao do not finish schooling because to the distraction caused by constant military operations in their place. Children in war zones do not experience normal schooling. They had to evacuate every time the war ensues. Most of the time, classes are suspended.

    War on terrorism worsens the condition of women:
    The women did not cite any sexual abuse experiences that went along the war on terrorism. However, it is striking that most women in war-torn Mindanao have opted to work abroad as domestic helpers for the survival of their families. This heightens the co modification of women doing such dirty jobs abroad.

    http://untoldterritories.wordpress.com/2007/10/28/women-from-war-torn-mindanao/

    The Philippines has had two female Presidents, and there are many more examples where Filipino women and let me say also, women from Mindanao have made contributions to national leadership.

    Of course these achievements have come at too slow a pace. But we should not downplay or forget the crucial role that women have played over many years of commitment and hard work – often behind the scenes and unrecognized – to bring about change. Let Gloria do her Chacha…

    • hvrds on August 23, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Let us make believe
    Memo to DILG Chief Puno and Gen Razon PNP Head.

    The last few weeks we have seen men in uniform raising what appears to be high powered firearms and rocket propelled grenade launchers on prime time TV…

    They were all screaming in Arabic God is Great!!!!! I do not know if the TV reporter and cameramen were actually conducting the shouting exercises to make their report more menacing.

    My question is this? Can any group also acquire these type of weapons and display them before Korina and Karen to make a point???

    What about licensing???? Are Philippines laws being enforced on every inch of Philippine territory or not???

    Would it best simply to remove any regulation on the right to bear arms in this country since there is a different rule for certain groups??

    They even have their own camps…..

    Would the MILF be more like Hamas, Hezbollah and the PLO???? They all have de facto sovereign control over certain territory.

    The NPA, IRA is and was an underground movement.

    You seem to be confused and we are also all so so confused.

    There are crazies on both sides that would like to dress this up as a holy war…. You know jihad…. One side has already started to call their armed component mujahadeen.

    The other side apparently would like to organize along tribal lines…..

    The Americans down there are most probably assisting you in targeting these so called mujahadeen.

    You are also well aware that the Americans armed the Sunni tribes in occupied Iraq to counter Al Qaeda. Iraq is now effectively partitioned into three sections.

    Are you moving to annihilate the problem or simply wait out your terms for the next year and so many months??

    Your boss has given the so called mujahadeen notice that they have to disarm and demobilize first before talking.

    Does this mean that no more talking with armed groups???? What if the other side refuses?

    • hvrds on August 23, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    “The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.” T. Jefferson

    We say we are a constitutional republic (Magno says we are).

    The Supreme Court is in effect tied down by the chains of the constitution in theory.

    The Queen recently declared that the peace process must conform to the chains of the constitution.

    She probably knows that the SC will pointedly remind the executive that everything it does must conform to those chains.

    The intent to break those chains (cha-cha) not withstanding.

    There is no question that the state of constitutionalism in the country is at its weakest since Ferdinand and Imelda.

    Come on Big Mike, GMA and the rest – make our day by pushing the breaking of the chains of the constitution.

    The MILF started it with GMA’s approval. She was supposed to sign that agreement in our name.

    • miggy arroyo on August 23, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    HAHAHAHAHA. Obvious na obvious. Si Pampagueno is a HOMO!!! Haha. Why can’t you admit it? Tinira mo pa si Manolo e wala namang problema yung tao sa kanyang sexuality.

    Libertarian ka? E talo mo pa si George Bush sa pagka-A–Hole!

    • UP n student on August 23, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    a 105mm howitzer is NOT a 105caliber piece.

    Makes sense that GovtPinas uses 105mm artillery using HE shells to provide fire-support for infantry against Kato or Bravo’s soldiers (who, when in camps, will be massed in fixed positions.) And Kato and Bravo have soldiers, not girlie cheerleaders. Kato and Bravo’s soldiers use deadly-effective weapons, not tiradors.

    • PSI on August 23, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    MILF camp falls; 30 killed – Inquirer
    – Biggest air strike launched in a decade
    – MILF: no renegotiation: ready for war
    – Palace MOA stand: more clarifications
    – Cebu Muslim community to help flush out rebels, terrorists
    – 220,000 displaced by Mindanao conflict — WFP

    “SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao, Philippines — Backed by the biggest aerial bombardment in nearly a decade, government forces Friday drove out Moro rebels from one of their camps in Maguindanao province,”

    From taray show to Rambo. “Defend every inch of Philippine terrritory. “

    • UP n student on August 23, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    However, if the MILF BIAF (Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces) headquarters central strips Kato and Bravo of their commands (and puts new commanders to head the MILF 102nd Base Command and 105th Base Command) my thinking is that the Malaysian monitoring team should arrange an immediate ceasefire.

    • UP n student on August 23, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    to M14: no declaration of war….. Govt-Pinas has not sent out any military force against the MILF Darapanan camp in Shariff Kabunsuan province.

    —————

    to windage knob: YES, the fighting has to stop. If only the clock can be turned back and Kato and Bravo did not throw a berserk-stupid tantrum.

    • justice league on August 23, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Constitution

    Article VI
    Section 23. (1) The Congress, by a vote of two-thirds of both Houses in joint session assembled, voting separately, shall have the sole power to declare the existence of a state of war.

    Article VII
    Section 18. The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion…

    • UP n student on August 23, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    but here is food for thought : that this time around, it is Govt-Pinas that is militarily stronger.

    — The MILFcan still be a lethal force (as a terrorist organization, as Kato and Bravo demonstrated) but the many years of negotiations has led to a decline in its battlefield readiness, training, and clandestine weapons acquisitions. The MILF have never had a steady supply of
    weaponry, a situation that is all the more acute today.
    — the training and intelligence provided by the detachment of some 200 U.S. Special Forces has improved the Govt-Pinas military overall capabilities.
    —The AFP is a more disciplined and restrained force as well, unlikely to engage in the scorched-earth policies and human rights abuses of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Recall the MILF-ASG beheading of ten Marines in July 2007. The Marines not only did not do scorched-earth retaliattions; they stepped up their civic action in the community.

    • BrianB on August 23, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Effective ata artillery nang military ngayon. Siguro wala nang bayaran.

    • BrianB on August 23, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    For disarmament, we need a military solution in Mindanao. Bases should be put up and police personnel recruited. Mahirap dito eh maski taasan nang gobyerno sweldo nang pulis sa mindanao kukupitan pa rin sila.

    • PSI on August 23, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    In the early stages, capture all MILF camps and reclaim as much territory. When they’re ready to talk ceasefire, create buffer or security zones where AFP troops will remain. Don’t accept any terms about returning to original positions. That’s how Russia pummeled Georgia.

    • Jaxius on August 23, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    PSI,

    You’re talking like a real armchair general. In the first place, you’re equating the AFP to the Russian juggernaut. The AFP does not have the resources available to the Russian armed forces. Second, why create buffer zones? Are we ready to recognize the MILF as a belligerent?

    • PSI on August 23, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Jaxius,

    No, I’m not an ‘armchair ganeral’. I’m an online war freak. Duh!

    • Jaxius on August 23, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    PSI,

    It figures.

    • PSI on August 23, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    @ Jaxius,

    War is never good. But we must be prepared to fight a just war. I believe this is the situation with the MILF.
    Humankind was never the same since a Genesis man murdered his brother. The oldest professions are prostitutes and soldiers.

    But you and and peacenik cvj have the same sound bites . I may be war freak, but I I’m for real. Double duh!!

    • Jaxius on August 23, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    PSI,

    What soundbite?

    There is a rebellion. There is no war. Do you know the difference?

    The MILF are not belligerents. They are criminals. Again, do you know the difference? Belligerents are treated under the laws of war. Criminals, under our laws.

    As such, what is required is not war but police action. Not everything that the AFP does is warfighting.

    Capisce?

    • PSI on August 23, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    Jaxius,

    OMG! Such naivette!

    In the real world , first you fight, conquer, and then talk peace. Then, we classify whether its war, just war, belligerency, police action, etc. Are you the adviser of the peace panel that got us into this trouble in the first place?

    Such textbook approach will win now war. Triple capisce!!!

    • Bert on August 23, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    “So finally cha-cha is dead till after 2010.”-hvrds

    How naive! Those people will never stop their evil scheme until their last breath.

    • UP n student on August 23, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    I still have the opinion that the MILF chain-of-command is badly splintered. This splinter has resulted in the current carnage (Kato and Bravo disrespected the MILF central leadership when Kato and Bravo on their attacked).

    Kato and Bravo also acted as bandits and not as military men. Had Kato and Bravo attacked ONLY a Govt-of-Pinas military base — had it been only Govt-of-Pinas soldiers (and Cafgus) that Kato and Bravo murdered — they could have a claim to “…soldier-against-soldier” and the Malaysian monitoring team would have reason to suggest to Malacanang to desist from escalation. But Kato and Bravo attacked civilian villages and killed civilians in their act of berserk-stupid tantrum. Kato and Bravo are terrorist BANDITS. As luwaran-dot-com (MILF central command website) reports, The MILF leadership had already ordered the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) commanders and forces, particularly Commander Umbra Kato and Commander Bravo, to restraint from further engaging the government forces, in words and actions, which would adversely affect the peace process between the MILF and the government..
    The hopes for a ceasefire is still there because the MILF center is holding. Kato and Bravo are being isolated even by the BIAF-central-headquarters who asks other MILF commanders to not engage govt-Pinas troops.
    ———————-
    As one reads the news coming out of Mindanao, one should differentiate between Kato and Bravo and the actions of MILF-central headquarters.

    Kato and Bravo need to be separated from their commands and from being able to give orders to hundreds of MILF soldiers (who may not understand that following Kato and Bravo’s orders results in damage to the Mindanawans’ dream for peace and prosperity.)

    • UP n student on August 23, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    Kato and Bravo need to be separated from their commands. Whether they go directly to a Govt-of-Pinas jail, an MILF-central-headquarters jail, to a European hospital for a medical check-up or even to a fact-finding mission in Ethiopia —- it will help Kabalu and MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim if Kato and Bravo are separated from their commands.

    • UP n student on August 23, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    this is a good time for an ambitious MILF-captain or light-colonel to stage a mini-coup and depose Kato and Bravo , not for the money reward, but to further the cause of peace. It is not insubordination because deposing Kato and Bravo is consistent with the orders from MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim. .

    • UP n student on August 23, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    My loyalty to my battallion commander ends where my loyalty to my chain-of-command begins.

    My loyalty to my battalion commander ends where my loyalty to peace for my people begins.

  1. “Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee. Watch the first Obama-Biden rally live at 3pm ET on http://www.BarackObama.com. Spread the word!” The famous text message .

    • nash on August 23, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    ay talo na si Obama.

    Biden who? Which part of the demographics does this pander to?

    • Republican on August 23, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    The equalizer,
    i don’t care about Muslim Obama. His foundation cannot be ignored. US will be heading in the wrong direction with Obama. Obama if elected will not last long and Joe Biden will become President…

    • Republican on August 23, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    I can tell that HVRDS is a brainwasher.

    • UP n student on August 23, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Biden is an over-50 white male — Roman Catholic but pro-choice with the seniority and foreign relations credentials that Obama lacks. He is the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in the 110th Congress. Biden has served in that position in the past, and he has served as Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

    • nash on August 23, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    @pampangueno

    “If I were as dumb as you I’d be bringing my toy truck and GI Joe’s on the office meeting.”

    I’m happy to be called dumb by you. I guess you are a genius.

    And if you should know, I DO bring my plushies to the office meeting.

    • nash on August 23, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    hahahaha!

    pampangueno claims he is a LIBERTARIAN and yet he notices Guyito???

    Wow, talk about not knowing what libertarian means.

    • UP n student on August 23, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    to The Equalizer: I did not know that you will vote for Barack Obama. Are you a California voter?

    • BrianB on August 23, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Jaxius, do you agree with me that a special police force with higher salary should be recruited for Mindanao? They may even be given investigative powers like the ATF in the US.

    • BrianB on August 23, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    Libertarian politics doesn’t work for the Philippines. Take the rich Kastilas for example. They are libertarians, even if they do not know it. Gusto mong gayahin?

    • leytenian on August 23, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Military is accused of human rights violation.

    The number of senior military officers convicted either for direct involvement or under command responsibility remains zero. The doctrine of command responsibility in international law means that superior officers can be held criminally liable for the actions of their subordinates, and also if a superior had reason to know that subordinates under his command committed an offence and failed to use all feasible means under his command to prevent and punish it, he too may be found guilty for the offence.

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0WDQ/is_2002_April_1/ai_84531916

    Investigation, protection, legal measures, etc are under the responsibility of Commission on Human rights.

    http://www.chanrobles.com/article13humanrights.htm

    • anthony diamos on August 23, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    Committee on International Relations
    U.S. House of Representatives
    Washington, D.C. 20515-0128

    “The State of Jemaah Islamiya and US Counter-Terror Efforts in Southeast Asia”
    Dr. Zachary Abuza
    Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations
    Simmons College

    Testimony for the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific,
    House International Relations Committee

    29 October 2003

    This testimony will first describe the current state of Jemaah Islamiya and 12 reasons that are of concern as to why this organization will pose a long-term threat to the United States and her allies. The second part will address 9 aspects of US counter-terror policy strategies and the ongoing challenges of counter-terrorism in Southeast Asia.

    A. The State of Jemaah Islamiya

    The war on terror has continued apace in Southeast Asia, and the governments in the region and their Western counterparts deserve credit for the arrests of some 200 Jemaah Islamiya (JI) members through September 2003, including more than 30 in Singapore, 80 in Malaysia, approximately one dozen in the Philippines, 8 in Thailand and Cambodia, and some 100 in Indonesia. Several of the members of JI’s regional shura, its leadership body, were arrested, including Hambali, its operational chief. Hambali has revealed more names of JI members throughout the region. The spiritual leader of the group, Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, will be incarcerated for an additional three years. Although Hambali may have been leading his interrogators astray he has stated that the JI organization has been devastated.

    The Bali investigations, in particular, have led to a far greater understanding of how the network operates and their command and control structure leading to subsequent arrests. These arrests were significant, especially as the JI is not a large organization, between 500 and 1,500 people. Those who have been arrested have been forthcoming in their interrogations, which have greatly assisted on-going investigations. Many of the detainees have cooperated and revealed a significant amount of information about the scope and modus operendi of the organization. The quality of new members may decline as they have not been as thoroughly trained. They are less able to plan and execute terrorist attacks than they were a year ago, especially against hardened targets, such as US embassies, though they still maintain their capacity to attack soft targets, such as the 5 August 2003 bombing of the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, or other venues such as nightclubs or malls. One cannot forget that since the 11 September attacks on the United States, Jemaah Islamiya has been one of the most active Al Qaeda affiliates, and Southeast Asia one of the most important theaters of operation. Although Al Qaeda has suffered severe setbacks and the arrest of two-thirds of its known senior leadership, the organization will continue to rely more on regional affiliates. One would be foolish to underestimate JI’s capabilities or goals. As many of the key operatives are still at large, the organization retains the capacity and will to launch devastating terror attacks throughout the region. In particular, there are 12 causes for alarm that this paper will address.

    1. The Psychology of Terror: There is no single psychological makeup of terrorists, yet there are traits, that have emerged in the vast literature of the psychology and sociology of terrorism: Terrorists are violent, stimulus seeking, zealots. They are true believers who tend not to waiver from the cause. For example, although one of the Bali bombers, Ali Imron, expressed guilt for the bombings, he disagreed with the means, not the ends. More cynically, one could also argue that he was simply trying to escape the firing squad, which he did, unlike his two brothers and Imam Samudra. Terrorists are rational and engage in cost-benefit analysis; they are not psychopaths. (Mentally unstable individuals pose a great security risk for terrorist groups and can jeopardize entire operations.) They are driven by small-group dynamics, which tend to create in and out groups and engage in “group-think behavior,” alienating members who do not conform ideologically.

    Finally, they are often driven be a desire for revenge. When the Bali bombers were arrested in the fall of 2002, they expressed confusion that most of the victims were Australians and not Americans; which they only rationalized by stating that Australians were allied to the United States and their prominent role in East Timor. Yet, Australians have become targets of JI in their own right. For example, Hambali has already admitted that because of the prominent role of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in the Bali investigation (in addition to their role in East Timor), Australians are targets, not simply seen as an extension of the Americans. As such, Australian Federal Police are now preparing for time-delayed bombs that would specifically target them; they believe that JI clearly has the technical capability to do this.

    An arrest and seizure of a stockpile in Semerang, Indonesia in July 2003, revealed a huge cache of not just explosives, chemical precursors and detonators, but of light arms and sniper rifles. This raised alarm that JI was adopting a new tactic: politically-motivated assassinations. As the intended targets, noted on a JI list found in the safe house, were all members of President Megawati’s PDI-P, clearly indicates a desire for revenge against the leadership that authorized the crackdown on JI.

    2. Lying Low: Jemaah Islamiya, like Al Qaeda, is not event driven. Terrorism is asymmetric warfare and terrorist groups tend to strike when they have a high probability of success; they cannot afford failure. JI has suffered setbacks in the past year and a half and will have to patiently rebuild its ranks in order to remain a viable organization. On the one hand, an attack is important for morale and to reassure their constituency that they are still a viable fighting force. Many members may simply want to lash out and cause as much pain as possible. On the other hand, JI must give priority to rebuilding their network, recruiting and training. Hambali seems to have confirmed that there was a debate within the organization whether to continue the pace of attacks or lie low and rebuild in the wake of the post-Bali arrests. Hambali, himself, seemed to support the latter course.

    These principles are long-standing. The PUPJI, a 1996 document that codified the authority structure and ordering principles and philosophy of JI, also includes the General Manual for Operations, which is a vague and somewhat philosophical document, and a far cry from the Al Qaeda training manual that was found in the Manchester house. It does however talk about how operations should be conducted. The document calls for four-stages of operations: 1) Planning, 2) Execution, 3) Reporting, 4) Evaluation. Emphasis is placed on education, meticulous planning, and learning from past acts (including mistakes). Later the document discusses how members should focus on Intelligence Operations, Strength Building Operations, Strength Utilization Operations and Fighting Operations. Almost all emphasis is placed on Strength Building Operations, which is defined as a lengthy process that includes spiritual and physical strengthening. The goals of this educational period, include enlightenment, discipline, instilling a sense of loyalty, physical readiness and skills to use weapons, tactical and strategic thinking, and leadership development.

    One of the lasting legacies of Hambali is the importance placed on maintaining the integrity of the organization. Press reports indicate that he has confessed that Dr. Azahari and Zulkarnaen have replaced him, indicating that they had contingency plans in place. Although the Mantiqi structure – the middle level of the organization that was based on geographical commands – seems to be in disarray, there seems to be more direct interaction between the top leaders and the fiah- the individual cells that have more operational autonomy.

    JI leaders have always placed a premium on maintaining the integrity of the organization, and in particular, its command and control. When leaders are arrested, they are quickly replaced. JI, like Al Qaeda has an ability to quickly tap new leaders to maintain the organization’s command and control network. On the one hand, the new leaders may not have as much experience or authority; yet the organization is still able to hold meetings and maintain some degree of command and control. On the one hand there was a conscious decision to make sure that the organizational command and control system remained in tact. There was an authority system, and there were rituals, such as pledging bayat or an oath of duty. There was always an attempt made to have a reasonable quorum of leaders when important decisions were made.

    There is also a philosophical point to the idea of lying low. In the philosophy of Al Qaeda, a strategic retreat is not demoralizing or anything to be ashamed of. If one looks at the works of Abdullah Azzam, especially Join the Caravan, who created the ideological model for Al Qaeda, the organization is based on the life of the Prophet. After god spoke to the Prophet Mohammed, and he tried to convert people, he was driven from Mecca. Mohammed had to retreat (hijra) to Medina to regroup, recruit, and train (tarbiyyah) so that he could defeat the enemies of Islam (qital) and impose Islamic law (sharia). Lying low and regrouping is nothing to be ashamed of or become demoralized over in the thinking of Islamic militants. Both organizations, Jemaah Islamiya and Al Qaeda, have always placed a high premium on education, training and meticulous planning. There is no evidence that they are trying to lash out with ill-timed and conceived attacks to take the pressure off themselves.

    JI is in full recruitment mode. One aspect of JI that is so impressive is their ability to recruit across the board, irrespective of education or class. Their recruits are not just students from the madrasa of the region, but young technical students and disenfranchised youth with little prospects. They are younger, angrier, and they are technically savvy. JI members also include many technical faculty members, including architects, engineers, geo-physicists, chemists, and robotics engineers. So much of the JI motivation is driven by extreme anti-Westernism that is simply cloaked in simplistic interpretations of Islam.

    One of the prime motivating factors and recruitment mechanisms is often a charismatic spiritual leader who can inspire people to jihad. Since the arrest of Ba’asyir and his successor Rusdan, there is no apparent amir, or spiritual leader. It is of course possible that Ba’asyir has remained the spiritual leader of the organization. From behind the porous walls of his Jakarta prison, his speeches and writings are still available to his audience, and his jail sentence makes him a martyr for the JI cause. It is clear that in the near future no one will be willing to take on as high a profile as Ba’asyir did. One interesting thing to look at in trying to ascertain where future JI religious leaders will emerge from is which madrassas JI members are educating their own children and which clerics they entrust the spiritual upbringing to. There is a lot of concern on the part of regional intelligence officials regarding the Thai Wahhabi leader and anti-western firebrand Ismail Lufti, whom they suspect s a member of JI. Although there is no evidence that he is a leader of JI, he is a very prominent and respected cleric with a similar world view.

    In short, we must be concerned about the current counter-terror strategy of simply trying to decapitate the organization. Leaders are replaceable and there is an endless pool of recruits. The failure of counter-terrorism in Southeast Asia is that it has not necessarily targeted the institutionalized aspect of JI.

    3. Motivation for Jihad: The underlying conditions that drove these people to terror have not diminished. The economies of Southeast Asia have not fully recovered from the Asian Economic Crisis, nor are they likely to in the face of intense economic competition over trade and investment now posed by China. Mass unemployment, especially in Indonesia, is very destabilizing. Diminished expectations and frustration-aggression, especially amongst educated youth, will provide fertile recruitment grounds for years to come. Although President Bush announced $157 million in educational aid to sure-up Indonesia’s secular and non-secular schools (much of the aid had already been pledged and committed) during his two-hour and thirty-six minute stopover in Bali following the APEC summit in Bali, such aid will do little to diminish anti-American sentiment unless there are concurrent steps to increase trade, investment, lower tariffs, and import quotas on Southeast Asian goods. A key component of our counter-terrorism strategy must be job creation.

    But there are other important motivating forces and factors at work. When one analyzes the motivation for suicide bombing and terrorism in the Middle East, and especially amongst Palestinians, it is clear that one of the most important factors is a deep seeded sense of humiliation. This is quite easy to understand in the context of the daily lives Palestinians live and across the Arab world, there is a deep seeded sense of humiliation on the part of Muslims by the West. It is obvious that Southeast Asian extremists also feel humiliated to be driven also to terrorism. What is causing this sense of humiliation?

    First, there is a desire to identify the Southeast Asian jihad with the global Islamist jihad. Simply, militants in Southeast Asia want to identify themselves with the Muslim core, and no longer want Southeast Asians to be considered the Islamic periphery. They are seeking to inculcate Southeast Asians in Islamic values; and they are clearly tapping into the rapid growth of Islamic consciousness that has transpired across the region. Southeast Asians, through greater media coverage and the so-called Al Jazeera effect are identifying more with the plights of their co-religionists around the Islamic world especially the Iraqis and Palestinians. The Palestinians have become a metaphor for injustice around the region. The Pew Charity’s Global Attitudes poll found that the number of Muslims in Indonesia who believed that Islam was under siege almost doubled: from 33 percent in 2002 to 59 percent in 2003. Moreover, 80 percent of the respondents felt more solidarity with the Islamic world then they did in the past; and we must also worry about the glorification of martyrdom.

    A second way that Southeast Asians are feeling humiliated, again ties in with their changing attitudes towards their co-religionists. The same poll found that with regards to Iraq, 82 percent of the Indonesian respondents were upset that the Iraqi regime did not put up a stronger fight against US forces, and that the cost of victory for the Americans was not higher; the third highest rate behind Moroccans (93 percent) and Jordan (91 percent) and ties with Lebanon and Turkey. (P4) In simple terms, they didn’t want the west to humiliate the Muslim world by defeating one of its stronger states so easily. Southeast Asians in general see the US occupation of Indonesian as the paramount of hegemonic arrogance and some are starting to rally around the jihadist campaign.

    The West tends to be too focused on the madrasa education; both Al Qaeda and JI were able to recruit across the spectrum- and successfully at the technical schools. Does Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia or the Philippines, in the current economic conditions, need another 22 year-old computer science graduate? Simply, no. They sit around, blame the West and globalization for their predicament, hack, create malicious computer viruses and worms, and learn their jihad on-line. This jihad is as much about anti-Western-ism (especially anti-Americanism) as it is about Islam. The Pew Global Attitudes Project reported one of the most precipitous drops in support for the United States in the past three years among Indonesians. Whereas 75 and 61 percent of Indonesians had positive images of the United States in 2000 and 2002 respectively, only 15 percent did in 2003. Whereas 31 percent of Indonesians supported the global war of on terror in 2002, only 23 percent supported it in 2003, despite the deadly terrorist attacks in Indonesia in October 2002.

    The war on terror is as much a war within Islam; and to that end, the United States needs the support of moderate Muslim leaders throughout the war to attack terrorism and intolerant radicals and to provide an ideological counter to them. Yet, we seem to undermine them at every chance with our policies. Moderate Indonesian clerics who supported the war on terror were often leading demonstrations against the war. And even those that did not have a hard time assuaging popular anger against the United States and her policies.

    Such sentiments have only increased with the Iraq war. For Muslims of the world, there is only one lesson to be learnt from Iraq: no state can confront the United States and her allies; the only way that they can be made to pay and “taste” the humiliation that Muslims feel every day is through terror. States in the Islamic world have failed to stand up to the United States and defend fellow Muslims; only Al Qaeda and its affiliates have the will and capacity.

    4. The Colonels: Although a number of shura members were arrested, the majority of the 2000 arrests to date have been of foot soldiers with no knowledge of operations or the organization. These individuals performed specific functions (running safe houses, meet and greeters, surveillance, procurement). Very few “operatives” have been arrested; i.e. people with technical proficiency and who are able to plan, coordinate and execute attacks. They have the rank and stature to command foot soldiers. Most of these individuals were trained either in Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan or Camp Abu Bakar in Mindanao. These include Zulkaraenen, Syawal, Dulmatin, Dr. Azahari Husin, Noordin Mohammed Mop Top, Abu al-Furkan, Abdul Jabar, and others. These individuals have technical and bomb-making expertise, a knowledge of secure communications, where to go for funding, how to communicate with the diversified Al Qaeda center, and finally the clout to bark orders at their underlings.

    One of the key variables is who these people are training to serve as their own lieutenants as well as the question as to how well new members are being trained. What counter-terrorist operations hope to achieve is the “degrading” of JI members. As one American CT official said to me recently, “Yes they’re actively recruiting, but they’re not as good.”

    We have all seen the Al Qaeda training video-tapes that give bomb-making lessons. Likewise, Dr. Azahari’s bomb “cook books” were written in a way that nearly anyone, even someone with only a limited Koranic education, could understand. Indonesian and Australian police have found pre-weighed bags of chemicals in some quarter-master dens allowing for quick construction of bombs with little technical expertise. Moreover, the Bali and Jakarta bombs indicate a sharp learning curve over the 2000 bombings, in terms of the complexity and lethality of the bombs. Has that knowledge been effectively transmitted? How are JI recruits being trained? Can the training be as effective while they are on the run, and spending most of their resources on trying to ensure their own survival? The September arrests of 19 JI members in Karachi, Pakistan, may indicate that JI is moving further afield to conduct its training in a more secure environment. But the issue of training also brings into question the next variable, the role of the MILF.

    5. The MILF: The MILF has been fighting for a homeland since the 1970s, and began to receive significant amounts of funding (lethal and non-lethal) from Al Qaeda beginning in the early-1990s. In return for the aid, the MILF opened its doors to Al Qaeda trainers, who instructed not just MILF cadres in terrorism but also local JI operatives who were unable to get to Pakistan and Afghanistan in significant numbers.

    Until the MILF cuts its ties to JI, there will be a terrorist problem in the region as without the MILF camps and secure base area JI cannot train effectively. Yet, to date there have been no incentives for the MILF to cut ties or cooperate. Although they strenuously deny it, the MILF resorts to terror when it suffers battlefield losses, such as this past spring when it bombed the Davao airport or after the 1999 offensive when it bombed the LRT in Manila. It has become standard operating procedure for them. They deny every act of terror – or when confronted with overwhelming evidence that implicates them, blame the attack on “lost commands.”

    Although peace talks are set to resume again at the time of writing (there have been preliminary talks and negotiations since early August though they have come to nothing), there seems to be no willingness on the part of either side to compromise on the three issues that led to the breakdown of talks in late-2001. First, the MILF has given no indication whatsoever that that they have abandoned their quest for an independent state or would accept the government’s offer of autonomy. The MILF rejected the 1996 peace treaty between the government and their rival Moro National Liberation Front which created the nominally self governing Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The MILF believes (not without reason) that the ARMM has been a failure, and refuse to accept a similar proposal.

    Second, the MILF is unlikely to accept “joint development projects” that the Philippine government hopes to use to legitimize their position; despite the $30 million that was put on the table by the Americans, or the $130 million offered by the Philippine government. The MILF has demanded that the government simply give them the funds to use for development projects, through the Bangsamoro Development Agency. The government obviously refuses as they want the money to legitimize their position, not to buy political support for the MILF.

    Third, the MILF sees cantonment, disarmament and demobilization as tantamount to surrender.

    On top of the three issues that led to the talks breaking down in 2001, are four additional concerns: The first is the very palpable sense of mistrust on the part of the warring parties. It will take a long time to get back to the level of trust that was reached in the fall of 2001. Both sides blame each other for violating cease fires, seizing land, or perpetrating terrorist attacks.

    The second concern is the apparent unwillingness of each side to implement the ceasefire, or alternatively, the inability to exert command and control over their troops. Third, the death of Hashim Salamat, the MILF’s founder and leader, also calls into question the ability of the MILF Central Committee to cut deals with the government. The fact is, we know very little about generational and factional differences and how this will play out in the peace process. The new MILF leader, Ebrahim al Haj Murad is known to be a pragmatic individual and a more moderate leader than Hashim Salamat, but we do not know how well he is holding the organization together or his ability to make significant compromises. He has been a vice-chairman for political and military affairs for over a decade and is well respected amongst the rank and file, yet the senior ranks of the MILF have been monopolized by the same individuals for a long time, thus limiting opportunities for a new generation of leaders to emerge. Fourth, the Philippine government, in the midst of a presidential election, is unlikely to yield much at the negotiating table. Although President Arroyo’s poll numbers are substantially up, depite breaking her December 2002 vow not to run for re-election, the best indications are that she will win. Certainly she has the backing of Lakas, former President Fidel Ramos and the recently retired and politically powerful prelate, Cardinal Jamie Sin. Her appeal is not based on her policies, but on the fact that none of the current crop of presidential aspirants has yet captured the imagination of Filipino voters or has national stature or integrity.

    Perhaps the only tangible difference is that the United States is more involved in the peace process. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matt Daley secretly met with members of the MILF leadership in Kuala Lumpur and warned them to cut their ties to JI, and tried to indicate the seriousness the US attaches to this issue. Daley offered $30 million to the MILF as an incentive to signing a peace accord. Yet the MILF is insistent that this revolution is about principles and they cannot be bought off.

    The outbreak of hostilities between government forces and the MILF is likely, and to that end, terror will remain part of their arsenal, thus necessitating ties to JI and Al Qaeda. There is now significant evidence that there are two new camps in operation deep in MILF territory where Indonesians are being trained. There are other reasons to be concerned about the MILF:

    First, the growing closeness of the MILF and the Abu Sayyaf is also going to complicate matters. Although there have been talks between the two organizations in the past, they have never consummated an alliance due to differences over strategy, ideology and jealousy over foreign money. Yet recent reports of the MILF shipping an arms cache to the recently reconstituted Abu Sayyaf is very alarming. Although differences between the groups remain, clearly like their terrorist strategy, the MILF views the Abu Sayyaf as an effective way to keep the Philippine armed forces spread thin.

    Likewise, there is now evidence of cooperation at the unit level between NPA and MILF units. Again, there is little ideological affinity, but there is a shared enemy. One also has to look at the evidence of collusion between the two with regards to arms shipments. For example, when Philippine troops over-ran the Buliok Complex they found evidence that the MILF was purchasing weapons from North Korea; a tie that was likely facilitated by the NPA.

    6. Countries of Convenience: Terrorism differs from transnational crime in that it has no profit motive; but the underlying conditions that benefit one, benefit the other. Thus effective counter-terrorism must be based on rigorous law enforcement that targets gun-running, people smuggling, anti-corruption, money-laundering, and document forging. All of these are endemic in Southeast Asia; indeed that is a reason Al Qaeda was first attracted to the region. The will of states to crack down on these activities- especially in concert with one another is sorely lacking. The states of the region have not addressed the issue of terrorist-transnational crime convergence.

    7. Range of Vulnerabilities: Although JI has lost the capacity to target a hard-target such as a well defended standing US embassy, there is an enormous range of targets to defend against. In one of his last major recorded statements, in October 2002, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s number two leader, warned that “We will strike at the nodes of your economy.” We must take him very seriously. The goal of Al Qaeda is to rock the economic foundations of the west and its allies. Mass unemployment leads to frustration which leads to aggression. Although I refuse to accept the proposition that poverty causes terror, poverty does create the underlying conditions that allow terrorism to prosper. The west and its policies of globalization are convenient scapegoats.

    Likely targets include less-guarded Western embassies (in particular Australia and the United Kingdom), especially those in office towers; symbols of US economic power, such as office towers with corporate logos; critical infrastructure such as refineries or pipelines and power-grids (that the MILF has started targeting with ease and effectiveness). JI cell members arrested in conjunction with the Semerang raid stated that US gas and mining firms were being specifically targeted (Unocal, Halliburton, ExxonMobil, Caltex, Conoco-Philipp, and Union Texas) while footage of Freeport McMoRan appears to be on a video produced by an Al Qaeda suspect detained in Indonesia. These firms represent the core of the Indonesian economy.

    In addition, there is a huge range of soft targets: hotels, shopping malls, bars-nightclubs, housing complexes, and international schools. Airport security is abysmal in smaller regional airports and thus suicide-hijackings remain a distinct possibility. The potential for a plane taking off from Riau or Batam and being crashed anywhere in Singapore is not an unreasonable scenario; and it is an attack that would devastate the Singaporean economy.

    The Mombasa attack and the apparent Al Qaeda attempt to procure surface to air missiles are significant in Southeast Asia as the two most prominent corporate symbols of Australia and Singapore are their airlines. An attack on airliners would be economically devastating in this region that is so dependent on foreign investment and tourism. Hambali has admitted that he and a colleague were planning to purchase shoulder-launched SAMs (MANPADS) to attack jetliners in Thailand. Indicating the concern that the US government places on the threat of such attacks, the single most important agreement that came out of the October 2003 APEC summit in Bangkok was an agreement that pledged states to control the sale and transfer of these weapons; though it fell short of a complete ban.

    Although there is still no consensus on this amongst law enforcement officials regarding whether Iqbal was a suicide bomber at Paddy’s Bar in Bali, the psychological threshold for suicide bombings has been crossed in Southeast Asia. A former Darul Islam member, which in many ways was a ore-cursor organization to JI, stated “Suicide bombings are a new development in Jemaah Islamiya activities. When I was in the movement, we never had the concept. But what we did have is the understanding that we will face death in our struggle.” Interrogations in Malaysia revealed that Hambali had recruited some six individuals for martyrdom missions. Sydney Jones of the International Crisis Group contends that a JI leader, Zulkarnaen established a suicide cell of the JI, known as the Laskar Khos, which has approximately 15 members. Martyrdom missions are not going to become a regular occurrence in Southeast Asia, but they are now part of the arsenal and cannot be discounted.

    Two recent arrests portend the future of JI attacks. Malaysian authorities arrested one person with 10kg of Bali-like chemicals, as well as sodium azide which can be used to make poison gas. This fits into a pattern of Al Qaeda activity indicating a strong desire to operationalize WMD. He confessed that he was in a 6 person cell, of which each member was charged with the procurement of similar chemicals; none of whom have been arrested. In a 2003 raid on a JI safe house in the southern Philippines, a manual on bio-weapons was found.

    8. Independent Al Qaeda Cells: Much of the focus of the war on terror in Southeast Asia has been on Jemaah Islamiya, yet there has been little attention paid to independent Al Qaeda cells and operatives. States in the region feel threatened by JI, yet not by Al Qaeda. This is a dangerous attitude. First, if we begin with the premise that Al Qaeda seeks to expand its war, to spread American and Western resources too thin, than we should expect that Southeast Asia will only increase in its importance as a theater of operations. Indeed Southeast Asia has emerged as one of the key theaters of operation. Second, we cannot forget that Al Qaeda first came to Southeast Asia in the early 1990s, years before JI was founded. It developed its network slowly and deliberately without attracting the suspicion of the region’s security services.

    There is no way to ascertain the number of operatives in the region, yet Al Qaeda has been a more dispersed organization. One should not forget that when Abdullah al-Rahim al-Nishiri was arrested in Yemen in early-October 2002, the senior Al Qaeda operative was reportedly on his way to Malaysia. It is a more dispersed and decentralized organization, with multiple nodes of power, and thus operations.

    Obviously states in the region have become more vigilant about the inflow of Middle Easterners. Yet, the economic costs of heightened vigilance, over time, will be too great. This was already seen in Malaysia, which following 9/11 no longer had visa-free entry requirements for members of OIC states. Yet, as Malaysia poised itself as a center of Islamic banking and business and an important tourist destination for Middle Easterners, it lifted most of those visa requirements. The porousness of Southeast Asia’s borders and its tourist-friendly lax visa requirements will continue to attract operatives.

    9. Lands of Jihad: From 1999-2000, JI leaders were actively engaged in leading sectarian conflict in the Malukus and Central Sulawesi, and to that end, established two paramilitary arms. The logic was simple: if Al Qaeda’s first generation of members were veterans of the anti-Soviet Mujiheddin, than new generations of recruits to Al Qaeda and affiliates, had to have their own holy war to radicalize them. Although the Indonesian government finally stepped in, restored order and negotiated fragile peace accords, since this summer, there have been a number of deadly attacks in Poso, both bombings and assassinations, to wreck the peace process and rekindle sectarian violence. The outbreaks of sectarian violence will play into the hands of militants who will manipulate these conflicts and use them to propagandize against the state, recruit and fundraise.

    10. The Money Trail: The financial war on terror has failed in Southeast Asia and to date almost no assets have been frozen although the region has become more financially important to Al Qaeda. Much of the fundraising is impossible to stop: hawala, cash being brought in on person, and petty crime. Hambali has revealed that JI was increasingly dependent on cash infusions for terrorist acts. But even the money that we should be able to curtail, we have not. Although the US Department of the Treasury identified 300 individuals, corporations and charities, the list was winnowed down to 28 individuals and corporations, many of which are already arrested or defunct. The designations that were finally announced on 5 September 2003 were a diplomatic compromise and really belied the scope of the problem. The US government designated 14 individuals while Malaysia submitted a list of 10 terrorist funders directly to the United Nations. Yet, of those 24 individuals, 9 had already been arrested, while none of the others are expected to have significant assets. The list included none of the charities and known front companies.

    Saudi charities remain very active in the region, despite considerable evidence that they have directed funds to JI and its paramilitary arms. They, like their domestic counterparts, are maintaining a lower profile, but in part that is due to the fact that there is less overt sectarian conflict. The banking sectors remain weak and under-regulated, especially the Islamic banking sectors. Even states that are threatened by terrorism either question the utility of going after terrorist funding, or fear the adverse effect that such measures will have on their economy.

    The Arabization and spread of Wahhabism in the region is deeply troubling. Although there is no centralized body or over-arching plan, the fact is the charities are the primary vehicle for the spread of Wahhabism throughout the region.

    11. JI Reaches Out: Between 1999 and 2000 JI held a series of three meetings that included members of other small and radical Muslim groups from around the region, including Thai and Bangladeshi organizations. This was known as the Rabitatul Mujiheddin. There is significant evidence that JI cadres are using southeastern Bangladesh to regroup and there are close ties between Fazlul Rahman’s HUJI – Rohinga Solidarity Organizatio and JI. Bangladesh has been off most people’s radar screen and there has been an appalling lack of transparency on the part of the Bangladeshi government, whose mantra eerily sounds like the one that emanated from Jakarta pre-Bali.

    The May-August 2003 arrests in Thailand-Cambodia further highlight the penetration of societies that were thought to be fairly immune to Islamic radicalism. Thailand and Cambodia became important staging grounds, but also very important financial conduits.

    The 19 arrests in Pakistan, a group led by Hambali’s brother, in September 2003 are also indicative of how JI has developed its network overseas and how it uses foreign territory to regroup and rebuild.

    12. Political Will: 2003-04 is a seminal year in the politics of the region that will see parliamentary and a presidential election in Indonesia; a presidential election in Philippines; the first leadership transition in Malaysia in 23 years, as well as a parliamentary election and a parliamentary election in Thailand. The war on terror will be a major campaign issue in all of these countries. Secular nationalists are all vulnerable to charges of being lackeys of the Americans.

    Second, the underlying economic conditions are beneficial to the Islamic parties who can argue that globalization has led to the impoverishment of their country and especially the bumiputera/pribumi community.

    Third, there is a lack of political will to take on the Islamists or expend the political capital to challenge them on small issues. For example, in Malaysia UMNO has become increasingly Islamic to court the Muslim electorate and win them back from the Islamic opposition party PAS. In Indonesia, although the Jakarta Charta failed, there is an Islamic component to more than 20 bills in parliament; to which no party is willing to stand up to. The Islamist vice president Hamzah Haz was to open the MMI congress, despite the fact that many MMI leaders have either been arrested for terrorist activities or linked to JI. It was only the Jakarta bombing that forced him to not attend.

    In Indonesia, JI still has not been designated a terrorist organization and under the Indonesian legal system, there are no conspiracy laws. Despite the arrest of one JI suspect in conjunction with the arrests in Semerang, he was released for “lack of evidence.” Indonesian officials fear a political backlash if they designate JI as a terrorist organization as proponents also want the MMI designated as well. One must also consider what effect the acquittal of Ba’asyir on terrorism charges will have on the Islamists in Indonesia. If anything, it will motivate them and vindicate their position that Ba’asyir was arrested on politically motivated charges under intense pressure from the United States. The Pew poll found that there is considerable support for Islam’s political role in Indonesia: 86 percent of respondents agree that currently Islam plays a large role in Indonesian politics, while 82 percent agreed that Islam should play a role in politics.

    We have to be prepared that some states no longer have the incentive in continuing the war on terror. Thailand seems to already be in “denial mode” following the arrest of Hambali. This is our war on terror, not necessarily theirs. In some cases they do not have the resources to maintain the current pace in the fight against militants, in other cases they are being hampered by intense bureaucratic competition.

    I should briefly mention some of the key electoral issues as they pertain to the war on terror. In Thailand, although Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai Party is almost guaranteed to be returned to power, it wants to deal the Democratic Party a crushing defeat. The Democrat Party’s regional stronghold is in the Muslim dominated south, which limits the degree to which Thaksin will allow the war on terror to be conducted.

    In the Philippines, President Arroyo broke her 30 December 2002 vow to not run for re-election, despite her eligibility to run for her own full 6 year term. She made the decision for a number of reasons, but most importantly she stated that she wanted to focus on making hard choices that though politically unpopular would benefit the economy. Her popularity ratings were also quite low at the time. Hovering around 15 percent, though which not unprecedented in Philippine politics, it was enough to give her pause. She has a lot of pride and could not countenance an election in which she would be humiliated. Yet since then, her position in the polls has risen steadily, while no other candidate has yet captured the imagination of Filipino voters. The party system in the Philippines is quite week; parties are more vehicles for personalities, and thus it is hard to have nationwide appeal. Regardless, it will be difficult for Arroyo to make concessions with the MILF and a durable peace is unlikely. There are concerns that now resigned Secretary of National Defense Angelo Reyes is a potential presidential candidate. There are also attempts by the opposition parties to form a broad coalition, though that seems unlikely to succeed as the parties will likely clash regarding the presidential nominee.

    In Malaysia, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed and UMNO milked 9/11 for all it was worth, linking Malaysians in Afghanistan and those detained under the ISA to the Islamic opposition party PAS, which did much to discredit the party. The PAS party paper Herakah afterwards complained that Mahathir was “fear mongering.” Mahathir clearly hoped to increase the 60 percent of the Malay population who support UMNO. There are a few key issues: first, in the 1999 election, PAS had substantial gains at the expense of UMNO- winning 20 seats. For the first time, UMNO did not win the majority of Bumiputera community. The ruling coalition Barisan Nasional held 148 of 193 seats, but only won 56.3 percent of the votes cast, down 7 percent. To what degree was the 1999 election a protest vote? Has PAS been able to hold onto those UMNO voters that it captured in 1999? Following the death of Fadzil Noor, the spiritual leader of PAS, UMNO was only able to win the by-election by 283 votes- in Prime Minister Mahathir’s home state of Kedah. PAS is poised to not only retain control of Kelantan and Terengganu in the 2003 elections, but to make substantial inroads and possibly gain control of the BN-controlled states of Perlis, Perak and Kedah. Due to the considerable gerrymandering on the part of the Barisan Nasional, PAS will not win in any of those three states, but it looks as though they will win more votes absolutely. If PAS makes significant gains in the election, the ability and willingness of the government to maintain its high degree of cooperation in the war on terror will be constrained. With the retirement of Prime Minister Mahathir on 31October 2003, Malaysia will experience its first leadership transition in over 30 years. His heir-apparent Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi is a much less charismatic figure, and has a much weaker political base. Although Badawi is a capable man who will continue to maintain the hard line on militants that he has shown while Home Minister, he will be a weaker leader who will have to bargain more with political rivals. There will be more dissent and factionalism in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition. Although the deputy prime ministers have pledged to support Badawi, this is not a certainty and this is the first time in 23 years that there has been an opening at the top. Although Badawi has Islamic credentials, as the current Home Minister, he ordered the detainment of all JI and KMM suspects.

    In Indonesia it is really too early to make any predictions. The new constitutional reforms allow for a direct election of the president, some 3 months after the parliamentary (DPR) elections in April. Parties that win at least 3 percent of vote will be allowed to field candidates. Over the summer, Jakarta was filled with rumors regarding backroom negotiations between the heads of parties and mass-based organizations over potential coalitions. Golkar is clearly in a much stronger position and is fielding a number of candidates; it also has the strongest grass-roots network across the archipelago. Their decision not to nominate their candidate until after the April 2004 parliamentary election is a smart one, as it allows 4-5 candidates to constantly tour the archipelago and drum up grass-roots support. The fact that Bambang Yudhono Susilo, the current Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security Affairs, has emerged as one of the strongest Golkar candidates must be troubling to Megawati; and has grave implications for how the war on terror is being conducted. Megawati no longer has the cache of being an outsider, and her party the PDI-P is riddled with allegations of egregious corruption and factionalism. This is her election to lose, which she will, unless she can form a durable coalition with the PKB/NU. It is telling that Megawati did not meet with Australian Prime Minister John Howard who came to Bali to commemorate the first anniversary of the Bali attacks.

    Of immediate concern is the question of how well the Islamic-based parties will fare in 2004. There is no consensus at present. While some people see a natural and inevitable swing to the Muslims, a slight majority expect that they will poll roughly at the same rates they did in 1999. However, this has more to do with their inherent weaknesses than their ideological appeal. There are pockets where Islamic parties are strong, but not across the nation. The Islamic parties are riddled with factionalism and rivalries and have trouble working together. The Crescent and Star Party has a very weak organizational structure and has more or less split into two factions. The only Muslim party that stands to gain from the election is the Justice Party, which is a very un-Indonesian party. Although they were courted by the government, they have turned down ministerships, preferring to remain in opposition, to maintain their integrity. The Justice Party is by far the cleanest party in Indonesia and ministers have a good reputation for eschewing graft. Moreover, it has a strong party organization and can assemble huge numbers of people. Most importantly, there are no discernable factions within the party.

    B. Ongoing Counter-Terrorism Challenges and Policy Recommendations

    Intelligence sharing and cooperation is essential. However, the criticism one hears from across the region is that intelligence sharing is a one way street to Langley, Virginia; that the United States gives little to these states on terms of what they need. The issue of access to Hambali is a case in point. Whereas I understand that it is critical to the long-term interrogation process to control the environment, it is insulting to the Southeast Asians, as well as the Australians, to not have direct access to him and other leaders. We must put in place a mechanism that would allow our allies to have access to these suspects. Our intelligence presence around the world is smaller than one thinks, and we rely on our counterparts to provide the “boots on the ground.” Therefore we must build up trust and a close working relationship with them. Adding irritants such as this will set us back in the long-run.

    Inter-state cooperation has improved dramatically, though it began from a very low level. The instances of joint operations are no longer the exceptions. States are cooperating with one another more regarding the handing-over of suspects (recently Hambali’s wife was turned over by Thai officials to Malaysia, while Malaysia turned over Abu Jibril to Indonesia). There seems to be consensus that if tele-conferencing is to be used in the future, there should be universal ground rules and procedures. There is some momentum regarding getting each state to amend their existing laws to bring them into line with other states. There still, however, has been no interest in developing an ASEAN extradition treaty. The United States should facilitate inter-state cooperation, and assist states in developing courses at the Regional Counter-Terrorism Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

    The United States must get involved in the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Front (MILF) peace process. Yet financial incentives are not enough to buy off the MILF. The MILF must understand how important the United States Government takes their ongoing relationship with JI and Al Qaeda, and they must understand that there will be costs entailed if they maintain such relationships. To that end, the United States must reach an agreement as soon as possible to get troops back into the Philippines for “robust training exercises.” We must be sensitive to Philippine law and political sensitivities. We cannot afford the fiasco of stating that the troops will be there in a combat capacity for as long as it takes. But we do need troops on the ground in the Philippines providing training and equipment; and also, keeping the Philippine armed forces honest. Most importantly it will send a strong signal to the MILF. The MILF never believed that the US troops that were stationed in the Philippines in the first half of 2002 were there for the Abu Sayyaf. They believed the US presence was directed at them. That is a feeling thatwe should maintain.

    Terrorist Financing in Southeast Asia must be addressed. First, we must continue to pressure the Government of Saudi Arabia to control its charities that are very active in Southeast Asia. Many of these charities have been implicated in financing terrorism and militant activities. Second, we should pressure governments to shut down domestic charities, such as KOMPAK, that have been involved in fomenting sectarian violence. Third, whereas the governments of the region have expressed willingness to freeze individual bank accounts, none has been frozen. Moreover, they have resisted shutting down front companies for fear of any commercial backlash against their economies. This is particularly true with regard to Malaysia. Fourth, the US government must continue assisting governments in the region who have limited capacities to regulate their banking systems, to establish and or train financial intelligence units in these states, and to strengthen regulations and put into place laws and regulations that criminalize terrorist financing.

    Counter-terror policies and assistance programs must be developed and implemented that focus on overcoming bureaucratic competition amongst the Southeast Asian security services. One of the most critical issues should be getting tactical level cooperation between the police and intelligence services, which seem to be more concerned with discrediting one another and competing for foreign assistance programs.

    Whereas US investment in Southeast Asian education is important, especially in the Philippines and Indonesia, it alone is not enough. $157 billion in educational assistance to Indonesia is important, but unless we create jobs, we are sowing the seeds of more unrest. Policy-makers cannot remain transfixed on madrassas. JI recruits across the socio-economic spectrum. We need to put in place economic policies and incentives that will facilitate job creation. For example, increasing the amount of Philippine tuna or other agricultural products or Indonesian textiles and shoes.

    Our visa policy is insulting and has little efficacy and must be changed for Southeast Asia. It is bad for our economy, universities and counter-terrorism efforts as it breeds ill-will and resentment.

    The Middle East peace process is a metaphor for injustice throughout the region. The plight of the Palestinians resonates widely amongst the vast majority of the population, while members of the elites believe that America is doing nothing to facilitate a return to the negotiating table. Islamic militancy and the threat of terrorism will grow around the world unless America uses its political and economic clout to restore the peace process. There can be no progress in the war on terrorism until a durable political solution that necessarily entails Palestinian statehood is reached. The war in Iraq, likewise, was universally unpopular in Southeast Asia. Southeast Asians now view the war on terror as patently anti-Muslim. Until there is a quick transition in Iraq to self rule, there will be strong-anti-American sentiment. Radicals in Southeast Asia are actively trying to identify with their radical co-religionists in the Middle East, thus we must take the wind out of their sails.

    The hypocrisy of US policies must be ended. Americans often ask themselves “why do they hate us?” The fact is most people in Southeast Asia do not. They admire us for our economic and technological success, for our entrepreneurial spirit, hard work and determination, for our cultural values and freedoms. What people hate is the hypocrisy of our policy: demanding others to do one thing why we do otherwise. Because of that we alienate even our allies. There are two good examples of this. First, the United States was very unhappy that the alleged spiritual leader Abu Bakar Ba’asyir was acquitted of the terrorism charge, and received 4 years, rather than the 15 years Americans had hoped for. While we pressured the Singaporeans to make a JI suspect, Faiz Bin Abu Bakar Bafana, available for video testimony, the United States refused to give the Indonesian prosecutors access to Omar al Faruq, one of the most senior Al Qaeda operatives caught in Southeast Asia. The second case has to do with America’s condemnation of the Internal Security Acts that are used in Singapore and Malaysia, which allow the state to hold people without charge indefinitely. Yet while we routinely criticize the ISA, we are doing the same thing in Guantanamo.

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