Posted by: JWP | 11/11/2009

US digs deeper into Mindanao’s mire

By Al Labita AsiaTimes Online

MANILA – A war of words between the Philippine government and a separatist Muslim rebel group over the kidnapping of an Irish missionary threatens to derail the lobbying efforts of the United States to bring the two sides back to peace negotiations.

The renewed animosity has flared up ahead of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s scheduled arrival in Manila on Thursday for a two-day visit to press Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to resume their stalled peace talks. Clinton, who will later proceed to Singapore for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting, is expected to reiterate Washington’s long-standing offer to help push the talks to restore peace and normalcy in the southern Philippine island of Mindanaomore

Abu Sayyaf survives US-backed Philippine crackdown

Agence France-Presse

First Posted 12:26:00 11/11/2009

MANILA, Philippines – The beheading of a kidnap victim is the latest proof that a small number of Islamic militants in the Philippines are defying a sustained US-backed military campaign to extinguish them, observers say.

The grisly development this week came just ahead of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to the Southeast Asian nation, throwing the spotlight on joint efforts by Filipino and American forces to crush the Abu Sayyaf.

“The Abu Sayyaf are still well-entrenched in the jungle. They are capable of mounting terrorist attacks,” said Rommel Banlaoi, executive director of the Philippine Institute for Political Violence and Terrorism Research think-tank. more

Beheading draws attention to forgotten Philippine war

November 10, 6:49 AMPittsburgh Foreign Policy ExaminerNick Lewandowski

Three days prior to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Manila, Abu Sayyaf militants beheaded a teacher kidnapped on the island of Jolo. The BBC reported that Gabriel Canizares was killed when his family refused to pay a ransom equivalent to US $42,000. While Abu Sayyaf has kidnapped teachers before, Canizares is the first that they have executed. The militants may have intended the beheading as a threat to the United States, which has worked with the Philippine government against Abu Sayyaf for seven years.

Though the American public remains preoccupied with conflicts in Iraq and Afganistan, the southern Philippines is home to no less than three militant Islamic groups: the Moro National Liberation Front, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Abu Sayyaf. Spanish colonists coined the term “Moro” more than a century ago (referencing the Muslim Moors who once controlled Spain) when referring to Muslim Filipinos. Of the Islamic groups, Abu Sayyaf is the smallest, but also the most violent and radical. Originally a splinter group of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), it is responsible for several high-profile kidnappings and bombings, including the 2004 Manila ferry bombing that killed 100 people. more


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