Thursday, March 31, 2005

FBI ‘blacklists’ NBI’s Wycoco

I'm posting this article here using Wayback Machine because it's not available anymore at the Tribune website (original source) and

From the Daily Tribune:

The Justice department and the National Bureau of Investigation under the Arroyo administration can no longer expect any kind of cooperation from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after a serious breach of security was committed by Philippine officials, led by NBI Director Reynaldo Wycoco.

The NBI and, by extension, the Department of Justice (DoJ) have been placed on the blacklist of the FBI which has reportedly cut its ties with its Philippine counterpart, the NBI, in protest over what it described as a “deceptive” ploy by Wycoco during his visit to the United States last May, the Tribune learned from its sources yesterday.

The FBI’s reference to Wycoco’s “deceptive ploy” was the video footage showing the meeting held between Wycoco and Kyle Latimer, legal counsel of the US Attorney General’s Office, which agency has administrative supervision over the FBI.

The Justice department and the National Bureau of Investigation under the Arroyo administration can no longer expect any kind of cooperation from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after a serious breach of security was committed by Philippine officials, led by NBI Director Reynaldo Wycoco.

Sources from the Philippine Embassy in Washington disclosed to the Tribune that the FBI leadership was outraged by the existence of the videotaped meeting and its subsequent public showing over Philippine television.

The meeting was apparently filmed in secret with a hidden camera by an aide of Wycoco, without the knowledge and consent of the American legal counsel and other American officials present during that meeting, the sources disclosed.

The video showed Latimer answering questions posed by Wycoco on the alleged bank accounts in the US of Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

The well-placed Tribune sources said Latimer and the FBI were not aware that one of Wycoco’s aides, who was later identified as Mike Magtanggol, was secretly filming the meeting which lasted some 45 minutes.

The digital video camera was reportedly hidden inside Magtanggol’s attaché case.

NBI sources told the Tribune that Magtanggol is not an organic NBI agent although he is seen almost every day hanging around Wycoco’s office at the NBI headquarters in Manila.

Records show that Magtanggol is the production head of the NBI Files, a weekly talk show hosted by Wycoco and television anchor Cristina Pecson, aired Tuesdays over a government-sequestered channel.

The secret filming by Magtanggol, obviously done with the knowledge and consent of Wycoco, was denounced by the FBI, the sources said.

“The FBI was so outraged because they (the officials) considered the act as a deceptive ploy by Director Wycoco and a violation of the trust and confidence being given by the US agency to the NBI chief,” the sources said.

The same sources said Wycoco’s act also undermined the security inside the FBI since it was a clear breach of security inside what is supposed to be a highly secured federal building.

Outraged by what was clearly a breach of security and confidence, the FBI official in the country reportedly barged into Wycoco’s office and gave him a piece of his mind.

The NBI sources confirmed that Jim Nixon, the FBI chief legal attaché to the Philippines, went to Wycoco’s office the day after the video was shown over ABS-CBN and GMA-7.

During the meeting, Nixon was described as “fuming mad” over the videotape which talked about Lacson’s bank accounts amounting to some $200,000, not the millions of dollars as alleged by military intelligence chief Col. Victor Corpus of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Isafp), and Wycoco himself, who had claimed as early as eight months ago that his counterpart, the FBI, had furnished him a report on Lacson’s alleged bank accounts which Wycoco claimed held “huge” amounts in the millions, which he said would serve as the grounds to file money-laundering charges as well as plunder against Lacson.

“Jim Nixon was really angry during the meeting in Wycoco’s office. As a matter of fact, he was recalled to the US by his superiors to discuss the matter and the decision arrived at by the FBI officials was to sever their ties with the NBI as long as Wycoco sits as director,” a reliable source disclosed to the Tribune.

The source added the FBI is strict when it comes to confidential and secret matters, specially when these are passed on to its foreign counterparts, like the NBI.

“Once you are blacklisted by the FBI, there is no appeal. When the trust they (FBI) reposed on you has been betrayed, you’re blacklisted for life,” an NBI official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

Nixon, the source said, is also head of the US Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force (JATTF) in the Philippines.

The JATTF, which was formed after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, is composed of the FBI, US Port Police and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Earlier, DoJ Secretary Hernando Perez played up the probe conducted by the Senate blue ribbon committee which focused on the alleged bank deposits amounting to close to $1 billion which was claimed by the Isafp chief to belong to Lacson

Perez claimed that he had obtained some damaging reports on Lacson’s alleged records but that he was just waiting for the official records from the US Department of Justice.

An official from the US Embassy told the Tribune that Perez was “lying through his teeth.”

The embassy official said the US DoJ was unlikely to even think of turning over any document to Perez, or Wycoco, for that matter, since the US government does not want its agencies’ confidential documents to be used by a foreign country, like the Philippines, for what was obviously a “political play.”

The same official expressed “horror” at the way Perez and Wycoco were using the name of the FBI and the US Justice department for “political purposes.”

It was learned that the video of the meeting, which was reportedly heavily spliced by the NBI to make it appear that the meeting was focused on the Lacson dollar accounts, was discovered to have been leaked by Wycoco to a select group of sympathetic reporters making up Wycoco’s media clique in Camp Crame .

They were given explicit orders not to drag the NBI in the videotape leakage.

This was the reason the broadsheet reporter who leaked the video to ABS-CBN and GMA-7 made it appear that the video came from Isafp’s Corpus.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

26 Indonesian terrorist currently training in Lanao

From Malaya:

26 Indons in Lanao for terrorist training
Arroyo's deportation of financier derailed hunt

TWO groups of Indonesians arrived separately in Mindanao in January for extensive training in a terrorist camp in Lanao del Sur.

The first group of 21 arrived on Jan. 21. The remaining five landed in Mindanao, through Malaysia, on Jan. 28.

The two groups came with two trainers identified as Abulkiram and Mujair al-Ghozi, brother of the late Fathur al-Ghozi who was identified as responsible for bombings in Metro Manila and in Davao....

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, military intelligence sources said, facilitated the movement of the two groups.

An independent source provided this newspaper with the identities of some in the first group of 21 terrorist trainees. They are Anwar Narsid, Sahibon Gulam, Farhan Jiahod, Zil Autad, Gafor Wadood, Omar Amiril, Farnan Dawalis, Ishaq Buday, Zainal Mandaya, Hasim Mufri, Watani Azibul, Farouk Rajab, Burhan Usungan, Nur Salih, Jazali Mauladie, Hesam Abdul Guimadil Mojib and Habib Taloot.

The source said the Indonesian terrorist-trainees could have been tracked down and arrested if President Arroyo had not allowed the deportation to Saudi Arabia of Al Sughayir, a known financier of the Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah in Asia.

Sughayir was arrested in Zamboanga on Jan. 17 but the Saudi Arabian ambassador allegedly "pressured" Arroyo during a flight to Mindanao in a commercial airplane on Jan. 25.

The Saudi Arabian terrorist financier was deported the following day.

Sughayir was scheduled for more tactical interrogation which intelligence officers say could have led the military to the lair of the Indonesians who are undergoing training.

Sughayir is said to lay his hands on more money from donors in Saudi Arabia every time he shows them pictures of terrorist attacks in the Philippines and Indonesia.

The two groups are being trained for attacks in the Philippines and in their own country.

According to the source, the two groups of Indonesians are now in Camp Magaturing in Lanao del Sur. They spend the night in hastily built bunks. A house of worship was built for them.

According to the Malaya source, the first two months are devoted to a program consisting of military leadership, disguised as islamization program, Aqida Islamiah (principles of Islam), Hifzul Quran (memorizing Koran verses), Tafsier (interpretation of jihad verses in the Koran), Tabbiyah Islamiah (Islam practices).

Nawaz and Ghosi were to serve as trainers of the two Indonesian groups.

The operation is said to be funded by at least P5 million (denominated in Indonesian rupiah) delivered by hand to Nawaz by Sughayir.

It is said that the MILF facilitated the movements of the two Indonesian groups from a place called Kudat in Malaysia to Camp Magaturing in Lanao del Sur.

The first group of 21 travelled by sea from an unidentified location in Indonesia and sailed to Marampayan, Kudat, Sabah.

In Marampayan, the group stayed in a safehouse provided by MILF emissary (ambassador) Ismael Haraiba for one day while waiting for a speed boat to bring them to Mindanao.

On Jan. 15, the group again travelled by sea for 12 hours until it reached Kidayan, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat.

They were met in Batang Bagras, Palimbang, by a supposed caretaker, Mustapha Hassim, said to be a nephew of the late MILF chairman Salamat Hashim.

An Elf truck is said to have picked up the members of the group in Montawal, Maguindanao, and brought them to Camp Magaturing, Lanao del Sur.

And here's the update.

Friday, March 04, 2005

What is hobbling RP's war against Islamic terrorism?

SOME quick arrests after a series of deadly bombings last month helped the government reassure people it is well on top of the threat posed by Islamic militants.

But the truth, many analysts say, is that the authorities are mostly playing catch-up, hobbled by a lack of funds, poor cooperation among agencies, corruption, and the difficulty of infiltrating the close-knit groups.

Despite years of training and on-the-ground advice by US special forces, the country is seen as one of the weakest links against terrorism in Southeast Asia, reinforced by a tendency to accuse and parade suspects on the slimmest of evidence.

"I have learned never to take Philippine government statements at face value until lots of other evidence is in," said Sidney Jones, an expert on Islamic militancy in the region at the International Crisis Group.

"I get the sense they don't really know what's going on."

From Stuart Grudgings of Reuters. READ IT ALL.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

"Edsa Revolution" in Lebanon

A peaceful revolution is ongoing right now inside Lebanon and I can't help but note the similarities with our own experience in the Philippines in 1986 when the pro-Democracy movement there also used "people power" to remove the dictator Ferdinand Marcos after staying in power for more than 20 years.

The only difference is that things are moving much more quickly in Lebanon after former PM Hariri's assasination compared to what happened here in the Philippines after main opposition leader and Marcos nemesis Ninoy Aquino was murdered in 1983. We had to wait for 3 more years before we had our successful "people power" Edsa Revolution in 1986 to effect regime change.

People power lives!

Asman notes we're not used to seeing peaceful demonstrations in the Arab world, adding that this "Cedar Revolution" is more reminiscent of the recent "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine. But of course. These are not the "Arab street" demonstrations of yore, with pumping fists and anti-American banners, staged by tyrants as photo ops to shore up their own corrupt regimes. These are the people themselves -- Muslims and Christians together, waving their national flags in unity -- finding their voice, emboldened by the momentum of events precipitated by GW's visionary foreign policy.

Here's something else to compare: Hariri's sister, MP Bahia Hariri is now being talked about as a possible candidate to be the next Lebanese Prime minister after the resignation of the Pro-Syrian Lebanese gov't.

Where do we go from here? Who will fill the political vacuum yesterday's events have left? Hariri's sister, MP Bahia Hariri, who spoke both eloquently and movingly in the stormy parliamentary session that preceded the government's resignation, is being talked about as a possible candidate for the premiership.

If Lebanon is ready for a female prime minister she must surely be the first choice.

Whoever it is will have the trust of the people in a way that few politicians can ever enjoy. Let us hope this optimism, this trust and this moment is not betrayed. To paraphrase Karami's last words as prime minister, May God preserve what the people of Lebanon have achieved.

Kinda similar to our situation, when Ninoy died and his wife Corazon Aquino replaced him as the new opposition leader and became president in 1986.

The Cedar Revolution in pictures from the BBC.

Here's a sample:

Also check the indispensable Instapundit for the latest pro-democracy happenings in Lebanon.