Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001 - Philippines

Philippine President Macapagal-Arroyo has been Southeast Asia's staunchest supporter of the international counterterrorism effort, offering medical assistance for Coalition forces, blanket overflight clearance, and landing rights for US aircraft involved in Operation Enduring Freedom. After marathon sessions, the Philippine Congress passed the Anti-Money-laundering Act of 2001 on 29 September. This legislation overcame vocal opposition and passed quickly as the Philippine Congress took steps to support the international effort to freeze terrorist assets throughout the world. In addition, the Philippine military, with US training and assistance, in October intensified its offensive against the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) – which has been involved in high-profile kidnappings for many years.

Small radical groups in the Philippines continued attacks against foreign and domestic targets in 2001. The ASG, designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US Government in 1997 and redesignated in 1999 and 2001, kidnapped three US citizens and 17 Filipinos in May from a resort on Palawan Island in the southern Philippines. Of the original 20 hostages kidnapped, 15 escaped or were ransomed; three hostages (including Guillermo Sobero, a US citizen) were murdered; and two US citizens remained captive at year's end. The "Pentagon Gang" kidnap-for-ransom group, which is responsible for the kidnap and/or murder of Chinese, Italian, and Filipino nationals in 2001, was added to the US Terrorism Exclusion List (TEL) in December.

Peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army (CPP/NPA) began in April but broke down in June after the NPA, the military wing of the CPP, claimed responsibility for the assassination on 12 June of a Philippine congressman from Cagayan. The Alex Boncayao Brigade (ABB) – a breakaway CPP/NPA faction – engaged in intermittent fighting with Philippine security forces during the year.

Distinguishing between political and criminal motivation for many of the terrorist-related activities in the Philippines continued to be problematic, most notably in the numerous cases of kidnapping for ransom in the southern Philippines. Both Islamist separatists and Communist insurgents sought to extort funds from businesses in their operating areas, occasionally conducting reprisal operations if money was not paid.


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