Philippines: Abu Sayyaf And The Bodyguard of Cash

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April 5, 2006: In the capital, police arrested the most wanted kidnap gang leader, Marlon Cortez. He had a $3,900 price on his head. The kidnapping gangs have proliferated as the major Moslem separatist organizations made peace with the government. Many rebels, with nothing to do, went solo and kidnapped for their own account. Kidnapping is still popular with rebel movements, who can build a large enough infrastructure to keep many captives at once, and safely conduct ransom negotiations. Kidnapping is way down in the past two years, as police concentrated on the kidnapping gangs. While the ex-rebels knew the drill, they no longer had a large rebel network to back them up. The government put large rewards on the heads of known kidnappers, and many of them were turned in for the money. This same reward technique has worked, although less well, for Islamic and communist rebels. One advantage the rebels have is a larger organization, and the means to hunt down and kill informers. This discourages informers.

April 4, 2006: Abu Sayyaf is threatening more bomb attacks. There appears to be one or two bomb making cells operating in the south. Abu Sayyaf appears to have a source of cash, from outside the country (wealthy donors in the Persian Gulf are suspected), that is financing the bombing campaign. The bombers are getting enough to live on, buy bomb making materials and pay some bribes for protection and information. That bodyguard of cash makes it difficult for the police to just nab these guys. But the cops know the Abu Sayyaf bombers are out there, and not just from the occasional explosion.

April 3, 2006: In the south, an army patrol encountered eight Abu Sayyaf members, and killed three of them, losing one soldier. One of the dead rebels was a terrorist commander, Romy Acquilan, with a $6,000 price on his head. Acquilan commanded about 60 Abu Sayyaf men in the area, although some of his men were also members of the more moderate MILF. There are believed to be about 300 Abu Sayyaf still active.

 

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