USD = 45.3800 PHP

Terror netted Abu Sayyaf P1.4B (circa USD 30 million) since ’92

By Alcuin Papa


Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:18:00 07/09/2008
http://newsinfo. inquirer. net/inquirerhead lines/nation/ view/20080709- 147303/T
error-netted- Abu-Sayyaf- P14B-since- 92

MANILA, Philippines — The Abu Sayyaf group has amassed an estimated P1.4
billion (circa USD 30 million) from its criminal activities from 1992 to
2007, a police terrorism expert said Tuesday.

Chief Supt. Rodolfo Mendoza told a forum on terrorist financing that a huge
chunk of the P1.4 billion, or 97 percent, came from kidnap-for-ransom
activities.

The rest came from extortion activities (P10 million), non-government
organizations fronting for international terror groups (P10 million), and
another P20 million from their share of the zakat, a compulsory welfare
contribution that each Muslim is expected to pay to a local mosque or
charitable organization for distribution to poor and deserving people.

“Kidnapping is a major source of funding for terrorist groups such as the
ASG,” Mendoza said in his presentation.

Mendoza said that in the 2000 Sipadan kidnap caper alone, the ASG earned
almost P1 billion. The money was used to buy high-powered firearms and to
sponsor more criminal operations, including bombings in Central Mindanao and
even Metro Manila, he said.

He said ASG leaders keep for themselves a significant portion of the funds
obtained from these criminal activities, using them to support their
families.

“A significant share of the loot is used for their families. Actual
participants [in a kidnapping] are the priority,” Mendoza said.

The police official said the ASG took in millions of pesos from extortion
activities during the early 1990s. The victims were mostly small businessmen
in Sulu, Basilan and Zamboanga, some of whom were killed when they refused
to cooperate. The first two provinces are areas where the ASG is known to
operate.

“Extortion almost crippled the economy of Basilan, Sulu and Zamboanga when
the ASG strengthened their extortion activities. Several business
establishments closed due to extortion,” he said.

From early 2000 to 2003, the ASG began establishing links with the Jemaah
Islamiyah, a Southeast Asian terror group with ties to Osama bin Laden’s
al-Qaida international terror network.

It was at around this time that the ASG began to extort money from big
transport and shipping companies, Mendoza said.

It was the refusal of the Super Ferry management to give in to ASG
extortionate demands that led to the February 2004 bombing of the Superferry
14, the biggest sea-borne terror attack in the country.

Mendoza has recommended that government agencies closely screen NGOs to see
if they are fronts for terror groups.

He also said that law enforcement agencies take the lead in hostage
negotiations and should steer the situation into the eventual rescue of the
hostages.

“It is only in our country where we see politicians and other personalities
getting involved in hostage negotiations. In other countries, that is not
allowed,” he said.

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