This article deals with Islamic terrorism in the Philippines, its connection to worldwide Islamic terrorism and the latest developments in this sphere. Also of interest are the different ways in which the Philippine government has chosen to deal with Islamic terrorism, including the three-day international experts' conference on counterterrorism held in Cebu on April 20-22, 2006.
The Philippines declared independence on July 4, 1946 at which time American forces withdrew from the Philippines. This corresponded with a revival of the traditional sources of tension between Muslims and Christians. The Muslims, residing in the south of the Republic, were concerned with the possibility of an independent Republic governed by a Christian majority. Labeling themselves the "Moro Nation" (Bangsa Moro), many of them viewed themselves as living under a foreign occupation. Their primary allegiance was to Islam and not to the Philippine nation.2 In 1969 there were numerous clashes between Muslims and the Philippine military in various locations in the south. The violence escalated significantly in March 1970 violence as a result of the founding of private armies in the region. In 1972 the control of the rebel Muslim movement shifted to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under the leadership of Nur Miswaari. Under the "Tripoli Agreeemnt," the MNLF opened negotiations with the regime and Miswaari received limited autonomy over the Muslim population in the south. This led to a split in the MNLF in 1978, when Hashim Salamat left the organization and founded a competing front named the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Salamat's goal was to establish an independent Islamic state in the southern Philippines and instill a much more religious way of life than that advocated by the MNLF. Salamat, accused by Miswaari of treason, was expelled from the Philippines and continued to operate out of Pakistan.3
During the 1980s, Hashim Salamat joined the Arab and non-Arab Muslim volunteers fighting in Afghanistan, where he first met 'Abdullah 'Azzam and Usama bin Ladin. During that same time period MILF continued to manage a guerilla and terrorist campaign against the Philippine regime. Throughout the 1990s the MILF forged ties with the Philippine organization Abu Sayyaf and with bin Ladin's al-Qa'ida, using the latter's training camps in Afghanistan and advisors that were sent to the Philippines in order to train members of the Front. In terms of numbers, it is estimated that MILF is comprised of anywhere between 8,000 and 15,000 fighters, some of which are Afghan Alumni.4 In 1991, another split occurred within MNLF when 'Abd al-Raziq Abu Bakr Janjalaani-an Afghan Veteran who opposed Miswaari's moderate stance-quit the Front and founded the Abu Sayyaf Group. The group is named after Janjalaani's alias during the war in Afghanistan - "Bearer of the Sword". The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) sought to create an independent religious Islamic state in the southern Philippines, and argued that this objective can only be obtained through the use of force. Since the 1990s, the organization has directed terrorist attacks against Christian institutions and leaders in addition to kidnappings and murders, especially of foreign nationals. ASG is considered the smallest yet most radical of the Islamic organizations operating in the Philippines, and its forces stand at approximately 200 Mujahideen, some of them Afghan Veterans and Afghan Alumni, andh an additional 2,000 supporters.5 Since its inception ASG has maintained strong links with other Afghan Alumni. The Group used their experiences in guerilla warfare and terror in order to intensify the struggle against the regime and to heighten its reputation among competing Islamic organizations. It also aided those Afghan Alumni that needed a base of operations to launch terrorist acts under the framework of the worldwide Islamic Jihad. The most famous example of these instances was the tie between ASG and Ramzi Yusuf, an Afghan Veteran of Iraqi origin who is considered the mastermind behind the first World Trade Center attack in New York on February 26, 1993. Yusuf, who met Janjalaani some time in the 1980s during the war in Afghanistan, used ASG's infrastructure in the Philippines in 1994 for an attempt to simultaneously bring down two American passenger airlines in the Far East using explosive devices hidden in the planes. He also planned to attack Pope John Paul II during his visit to the Philippines in the beginning of 1995. Yusuf's plans were never fulfilled, however, as a result of a fire that broke out in his hiding place, which led to the capture of an accomplice and the revelation of the plots. Yusuf escaped to Pakistan, where he was arrested in February 1995 and extradited to the United States.6 Usama bin Ladin intently followed the events taking place in the Philippines. Pakistani and Philippine intelligence sources believe that bin Ladin, who knew Janjalaani from Afghanistan, directed Jamaal Khalifah, another Afghan Veteran and bin Ladin's brother-in-law, to offer financial aid to Janjalaani in the summer of 1991 in order to expand his organization. According to these sources, bin Ladin later ordered Khalifah to convince Ramzi Yusuf and Wali Khan Amin Shah to go to the Philippines and train members of ASG. Yossef Bodansky and 'Abd al-Rahim 'Ali noted that bin Ladin even visited the Philippines in the winter of 1993 and introduced himself to the regime as a Saudi investor seeking to aid the Muslims in the south. As a result, he gained increased cooperation in achieving these goals. Later bin Ladin appointed Jamaal Khalifah as the man in charge of transferring the aid.7 It is safe to assume that bin Ladin opposed both the formal negotiations held in November 1993 between government representatives and Nur Miswaari, who agreed to abandon his demands to secede the Muslim south from the Philippines Republic, and the peace treaty signed between Miswaari and the Philippine government in September 1996, which resulted in Miswaari's appointment to governor of the south.8 As time passed, Janjalaani strengthened his ties with al-Qa'ida. In February 1998, he joined bin Ladin's Worldwide Islamic Front for Holy War against the Jews and the Crusaders. He was aided by the training camps of al-Qa'ida in Afghanistan and by the al-Qa'ida advisors sent to the Philippines in order to train his fighters. As such, Janjalaani held ties with Salamat's Islamic Front and continued to forge ties with radical Islamic leaders throughout the world who fought alongside him in Afghanistan.9 Janjalaani was killed in December 1998 in a shootout with the Philippine police in Lamitan village on Basilan Island. He was replaced by his brother al-Qadhafi Janjalaani.10 Even after the death of its founder, ASG continued to maintain close ties with al-Qa'ida, receiving financial and logistical aid and making use of al- Qa'ida training camps in Afghanistan to prepare its fighters.
Since the end of the 1960s, the Philippine regime has had to deal with two central threats: the Islamic threat and the Communist threat, which together have led to the deaths of over 120,000 people. While the terrorist activity of the communist rebels of the New People's Army (NPA)-the military wing of the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-caused great loss of life among both civilians and security forces, the terrorist activity of the Islamic organizations is of much greater concern for the Philippine regime. This is due to several factors: firstly, the struggle against Islamic terrorist organizations is a struggle under the religious-territorial framework, since the goal of these organizations is to establish an independent Islamic Caliphate in the southern region of the Republic, a goal that opposed even by communist rebels. Secondly, the link between Philippine Islamic organizations and al-Qa'ida and other Islamic terrorist organizations in neighboring countries (particularly Malaysia and Indonesia) results in immense pressure from the United States to take action against the Islamic threat. Thirdly, the activities of the communist organizations are taking place on a local level and are primarily concentrated in rural areas, thus not representing a significant threat against the Western allies of the Philippines that are located in the Republic or in neighboring countries.11 In March 2001 MILF, the largest separatist group in the Philippines, announced a cease-fire with the regime and its intentions to enter negotiations. In contrast, Nur Miswaari, leader of the MNLF, hinted in October 2001 at his intentions to return to bear arms against the regime that marginalized his autonomy on Mindanao Island. According to members of the Philippine government, Miswaari met with ASG and MILF representatives in order to forge an alliance. On November 19, 2001 more than 200 MNLF members shelled Philippine military fortifications in Mindanao and took scores of hostages in the city of Zamboanga. As a result of the clashes, 52 MNLF members were killed and many others were arrested. While the Philippine government tried to pacify Miswaari's forces, he moved to Malaysia in December 2001. However, he was extradited back to the Philippines shortly afterward over suspicion that he planned to perpetrate terrorist attacks in the Philippines from Malaysian soil.12 In February 2003, the cease-fire announced by MILF was cancelled. During the same month, members of MILF perpetrated a series of terrorist attacks that killed approximately 30 Philippine soldiers and civilians on Mindanao Island. Following this wave of murders the planned talks between MILF and regime representatives, set to take place in May 2003, were cancelled. In July 2003, the Philippine government signed another cease-fire with MILF and announced its intentions to open discussions with the Front in Malaysia. In January 2005, harsh fighting between MILF members and military forces severed the July cease-fire. After three months, in April 2005, both sides returned to the negotiation table and during the peace talks that took place in Malaysia, a breakthrough occurred over an important and controversial issue concerning territories in the southern Philippines.13 Throughout this whole period, as the MILF and MNLF wavered between cease-fires and fighting, ASG continued its terrorist activities against Christian institutions and personalities, as well as the kidnapping and murder of both foreign nationals and local civilians (sometimes using decapitation), acts of robbery, and operations against the Philippine military. In October 2002, for example, ASG members perpetrated a series of deadly attacks in Zamboanga City, General Santos City and Cotabato City in which dozens of people were killed. Members of the Group also perpetrated the bombing of a ferry near Manila in February 2004 in which more than 100 people were killed. As part of Usama bin Ladin's Worldwide Islamic Front, ASG also planned to attack Western embassies in the region, primarily those of the United States.14 Since the beginning of this year, ASG has continued to lead the terrorist campaign in the Philippines. On February 18, 2006, when at the beginning of a counterterrorism exercise between Philippine and US troops, a bombing at a karaoke bar killed one person and wounded 28 others near Jolo's army headquarters. ASG was blamed for the incident.15 ASG also fired two rounds of rifle grenades near a military post in Jolo's Mount Karawan, killed a police officer, and beheaded a civilian in the downtown area.16 On March 6 Philippine troops uncovered a high-explosive device most likely placed by ASG members near the highway that links the towns of Indanao, Maimbung and Talipao, a road regularly used by military trucks to transport troops.17 On March 27 a large explosion took place in a grocery store on Jolo Island, the largest of a cluster of islands in the Sulu archipelago in the southern Philippines. The explosion occurred near the venue of the February counterterrorism exercise between Philippine and US troops. Nine people were killed and approximately 20 others wounded. The police suspects that ASG members with ties to the Indonesian group al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyyah (JI) were responsible for the attack and that its motive was religious and extortive; the explosive device was initially intended to be detonated in the Sulu Cathedral, however in the end it exploded in the commercial center, also managed by Notre Dame priests.18 On April 11 Philippine soldiers raided a coastal village in the southern city of Zamboanga and killed Amilhamja Ajijul. Ajijul, a leader of ASG, was wanted for a series of fatal bombings including the bombing of an eatery outside Camp Gen. Arturo Enrile in Barangay Malagutay in early October 2002 that killed an American soldier participating in a joint US-Philippine military exercise.19 Citing intelligence reports, an official in the Philippine police counterterrorism task force, who declined to be identified, said that Ajijul was preparing for an attack funded by Indonesian nationals Dulmatin and Umar Patek, key suspects in the October 2002 Bali bombings, before he was gunned down.20 On April 12 a suspected ASG member was accidentally killed by a bomb he intended to use to attack government troops on the southern Jolo Island.21 On April 29 in Isabela, the capital of the southern island province of Basilan, military intelligence agents captured Abdasil Malangka Dima, a member of ASG and an al-Qa'ida-linked militant who was allegedly involved in the abduction of three Americans, including a missionary couple, from a resort five years ago. Earlier in the week, military intelligence agents arrested Sharie Amiruddin, who was accused in several bombings and also wanted in the resort raid, which he allegedly helped plan.22 Ren Jalaluddin Ropeta, vice chairman of the Moro-Christian Peoples' Alliance (MCPA), suspects that the military may have had a hand in the recent wave of violence in the southern Philippines, especially in Mindanao. According to him, the Philippine government is interested in creating an atmosphere of violence that will serve to justify the permanent presence of US military forces in the region and may press the Philippine Senate into passing the Anti-Terrorism Bill.23
The United States has called Mindanao Island and the Sulu archipelago in the southern Philippines a sanctuary, training and recruiting ground for terrorist organizations. According to Navy Adm. William J. Fallon, chief of the US Pacific Command, the Philippines, along with Indonesia and Malaysia, has served as a center for the activities of terrorists and their supporters in Southeast Asia. He added that the governments of these countries are cooperating with Washington in the war against global terror. Fallon did not say what terrorist groups were operating in the southern Philippines, but Manila previously admitted that dozens of members of the Southeast Asian terror group JI, including Dulmatin-who is linked to the deadly 2002 Bali bombings-were hiding in Mindanao.24 Local military estimates placed the number of ASG terrorists operating in Mindanao at about 510 active members, with 30 JI extremists. Led by Al-Qadhafi Janjalaani, most of them are holding out in the dense jungles of Central Mindanao, offering refuge to JI leaders Umar Patek and Dulmatin who are both wanted for the Bali attacks.25 The most recent reports indicate that Dulmatin is living under ASG's protection in exchange for providing bomb-making expertise.26 In the middle of March 2006 local troops captured alleged ASG weapons courier Julkaram Hadjail in Jolo and in a separate incident security forces killed several militants on the island. Security forces also recovered in early March 2006 a cache of explosives and homemade bombs near a highway in Jolo's Indanan town where troops regularly pass.27
On March 21 President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo pushed for improvements in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), with Executive Order No. 518 that spells out the implementing mechanism of the ARMM Social Fund for Peace (ASFP). EO 518 gives the regional government direct power and supervision over the ASFP while at the same time repeals EO 496, which placed the ASFP under the oversight, supervision and control of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP). 28 One week later President Arroyo appealed to international donors to give more development assistance to conflict areas in the southern Philippines ahead of an expected peace deal this year. The Philippine government and MILF were in the last stage of talks concerning an informal peace deal for the southern island of Mindanao, paving the way for a possible final deal by the middle of September.29 According to Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo, both sides will meet for talks in Malaysia next month where Philippine negotiators might sign a preliminary pact with MILF on Muslim territorial claims in the southern Philippines. "The most important thing is to overcome these [territorial claims], which is really the major issue,'' Romulo told reporters during a visit to Kuala Lumpur.30 According to former Cabinet official and retired general Alexander Aguirre, currently the chairman of the Strategic and Integrative Studies Center, Inc. based in Hawaii, the peace process with the MILF would isolate the radicals from the moderates.31 In addition, on March 28, one day after the grocery store bombing in Jolo, President Arroyo called on the Philippine Congress to pass an anti-terrorism law. "Once more, and with a deep sense of urgency, I ask Congress to pass the anti-terrorism law that will enable our nation to constrict, contain and control this threat more effectively," Arroyo said in a statement.32
More than 600 delegates from over 50 countries, including four international organizations, met in a three-day international experts' conference on counterterrorism held in Cebu on April 20-22, 2006.33 The participants warned that an antiterrorism campaign by Asian governments risks alienating moderate Muslims and pushing them toward extremism. They called upon those governments to seek the help of Islamic clerics and community leaders to reverse the "ideology of hatred". They added that terrorism is a global challenge that can be effectively addressed only if individual governments and regional cooperation complement global efforts.34 Brig. Gen. Javed Iqbal Cheema, head of the national crisis management cell in Pakistan's Interior Ministry, called upon the Asian governments to adopt a conjunct strategy that should include "interfaith" dialogues and measures that would ensure that human rights are protected while terrorist cells are prosecuted.35 Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore, noted that several domestic conflicts had become breeding grounds for militant cells. Gunaratna who called upon the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia to seek help from moderate Muslim clerics in solving their problems with Islamic militants: "in your response to terrorism you shouldn't create extremists. You have to address the ideology that is driving the jihadis."36 Gunaratna stressed that the failure of the legal system in most countries hampers counterterrorism implementation both within and beyond their borders, citing the Philippine Senate's delay in passing the anti-terrorism bill as a classic example. According to him, "politicians and legislators must be held responsible and liable for any terrorism that prospers and the sooner they understand the very nature and causes of terrorism, the better for all of us to respond and craft counterterrorism strategies that would include operational, strategic and conflict management." He added that both the international and domestic spheres must recognize the JI superhighway that includes information technology and recruitment and training camps in Indonesia and the southern Philippines, and that the nexus between the Indonesian and the Philippine terrorist groups are situated in Sabah and are mostly MILF-assisted with a strong al-Qa'ida influence.37 Arroyo's spokesman and press secretary, Ignacio Bunye, dispelled warnings that JI still poses a serious threat in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. Bunye claimed that "the warning against the JI is well taken, but we believe this is old stuff and does not reflect the stable situation being obtained on the ground." He stressed that since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Philippines has been on the forefront of the global fight against terror and has never let its guard down.38 At the close of the conference, in a joint declaration known as the Cebu Concord, the participants acknowledged the need for various long-term and short-term strategies to defeat terrorism, including "hard and soft approaches, respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, the rule of law, and pursuit of socio-economic development geared towards addressing causes and factors."39
The defeat of the Islamic threat in Southeast Asia is largely dependent upon the decisiveness of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines to fight the Islamic terrorist organizations operating out of the rural and jungle areas within their territory, primarily ASG and JI who possess strong links to al-Qa'ida. Support provided by Australia, New Zealand and the United States to these countries is invaluably imperative. However, without the commitment of the local countries in the war against Islamic terrorism through close cooperation, the eradication of ASG and JI training camps within their territories, the closing of borders to the passage of terrorists from state to state and the legislation of strict laws against terrorism, the odds of winning such a war are minute. In terms of the Philippines, the local regime must operate on two parallel tracks in its war against Islamic terrorism: firstly, an uncompromising war against Islamic terrorist organizations through the elimination or capture of those involved in terrorist activities; the legislation of strict laws against terrorism, including implementation of severe steps against anybody involved in incitement to terror or in any form of aid to terrorist groups; and preventing the transfer of funds to terror groups from both internal and external agents, since these funds supply the necessary oxygen that allows them to survive. As many as half of the member-states of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have yet to ratify the international pact concerning terrorist financing. Also, it is important to note that the struggle against terrorist organizations must come at the least possible expense to human rights. The second track must address the education, health, and wellbeing of the Muslim minority in the southern Republic and grant it equal opportunities with the Christian majority so that it won't play into the propagandist messages of the Islamic terrorist organizations. Simultaneous operations in these two tracks are likely to pull the rug out from beneath the feet of the terrorists that operate primarily out of the Sulu archipelago and Mindanao Island. In conclusion, the international convention in Cebu and the formulation of Cebu Concord is a step in the right direction. However, its effectiveness can only be measured in its implementation on the ground.
1 "Police say they've prevented a bombing in the Philippines", ABC Radio Australia, (April 27, 2006); "Police to continue search for Abu Sayyaf in Philippine capital", Kerala Next (India), (April 28, 2006). 2 Moshe, Yagar, Meridot ha-Muslemim ba-Filipinim, be-Tailand ve-be-Burma - Mayanmar (The Muslim Revolts in the Philippines, Thailand and Burma - Mayanmar) , (Jerusalem: Pozner and his sons LTD, 2000), p. 47. 3 "Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)", The Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) (Herzliya, Israel), (December 23, 2003); Yagar, Ibid, pp. 50-51, 57, 59. 4 "Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)", Ibid; Sean, Yoong, "Philippines Confident of Peace Deal", The Guardian, (April 28, 2006); Yoram, Schweitzer and Shaul Shay, Hafta'ah Tzfuyah (An Expected Surprise), (Herzliya: IDC, 2002), pp. 97, 100. 5 "Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)", ICT, (December 23, 2003); "Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)", World Statesmen; Simon, Reeve, The New Jackals, (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1999), p. 136; Richard, Engel, "Inside Al-Qaeda: a window into the world of militant Islam and the Afghani alumni", Jane's Information Group, (September 28, 2001); Schweitzer and Shay, Ibid, p. 97. 6 James, Bruce, "Arab Veterans of the Afghan War", Jane's Intelligence Review, Section: Middle East, Vol. 7, No. 4, (April 1995), pp. 177, 179; Peter, Harclerode, Fighting Dirty, (London: Cassell & Co, 2001), p. 577; Reeve, Ibid, pp. 136, 157; Yossef, Bodansky, Bin Laden - The Man Who Declared War on America, (California: Prima, 1999), pp. 112-114. 7 'Abd al-Rahim, 'Ali, Usama Bin Ladin - al-Shabah alladhy Sana'athu Amrika (Usama Bin Ladin - the demon that America created), (Cairo: Mirit lil-Nashr wal-Ma'lumaat, 2001), p. 75; Bodansky, Ibid, p. 112; James, Graff, "Hate Club", Time, Vol. 158, No. 19, (November 5, 2001), p. 37; Reeve, Ibid, p. 157. 8 Yagar, Ibid, pp. 61-62. 9 "Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)", ICT; Schweitzer and Shay, Ibid, pp. 97, 99. 10 "Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)", ICT. 11 It is estimated that the New People's Army comprises about 8,000 members, see, Romie A., Evangelista and Arlie Calalo, "NPA raids jail, slays 4 troops in new attacks", Manila Standard Today (The Philippines), (January 16, 2006); Together, these Muslim and communist rebels are estimated to total about 25,000 fighters, see, "Jolo, Philippines History", (February 25, 2006). 12 "Jolo, Philippines History", (February 25, 2006); As part of a peace accord signed in 1996 between the government and the MNLF, 5,000 MNLF militants would be inducted into the army and another 1,500 into the police. This induction has strengthened suspicions that some of the ex-rebels were using their positions in the military to pass information on to the rebels, particularly to ASG members. See, "Philippines Army Says MNLF Recruits Working for Abu Sayyaf ", ICT, (February 2, 2000). 13 "MILF Counterattacks; 16 Gov't Soldiers Dead", Philippines Daily Inquirer, (February 19, 2003); "Peace Talks on Despite Salamat's Threat", Philippine Star, (February 26, 2003); "Timeline: The Philippines", BBCNEWS, (February 24, 2006). 14 "Philippines Public Announcement", U.S. Department of State - Office of the Spokesman, (October 24, 2002); "Ishtidaad al-qitaal janub al-Filibieen wa-masra' jundi" ("increase in the fighting in South Philippines and killing of soldier"), al-Jazeera, (November 24, 2005); "Maqtal thalathah junood filibiniyyin bi-ishtibak ma'a Jama'at Abu Sayyaf" ("Three Filipino soldiers were killed in clash with Abu Sayyaf Group"), al-Jazeera, (November 13, 2005). 15 "Bomb Kills Nine in Philippine Food Store", CBSNEWS, (March 28, 2006). 16 Al, Jacinto, "Extortion Motive Suspected in Deadly Philippine Grocery Blast", ArabNews (Jeddah, Riyadh and Dhahran, Saudi Arabia), (March 29, 2006). 17 Al, Jacinto, "Soldiers recover bombs in Zambo", The Manila Times, (March 6, 2006). 18 "Bomb Kills Nine in Philippine Food Store", Ibid; Jacinto, "Extortion Motive Suspected in Deadly Philippine Grocery Blast"; Jeannette I., Andrade, "Jolo Cathedral original target of bombers", The Manila Times, (March 29, 2006). 19 "Holy Week attacks foiled; Sayyaf explosives seized", The Manila Times, (April 17, 2006); "Philippine troops kill leading Abu Sayyaf member", Reuters, (April 11, 2006). 20 "Philippines says disrupts bomb plot in south", Reuters, (April 22, 2006). 21 "Alleged Abu Sayyaf rebel killed by own bomb -- military", AP, (April 12, 2006). 22 "Abu Sayyaf Suspect Captured in Philippines", The Guardian, (April 30, 2006). 23 Ali G., Macabalang, "Muslim groups want bombings probed", The Manila Bulletin Online (The Philippines), (April 17, 2006). 24 "US Pacific Command chief tags Mindanao as terror training hub", The Manila Times, (March 21, 2006); al-Jama'ah al-Islamiyyah were also behind the bombing of the Australian Embassy in Indonesia in 2004. 25 "U.S. Troops in Sulu Fighting Ideas that Breed Terrorism", YahooAsia, (April 9, 2006). Other estimations lessen the number of ASG members to only 300 in all of the southern Philippines, see, "Bomb Kills Nine in Philippine Food Store", Ibid; Dr. Rohan Gunaratna of Singapore's Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies revealed that JI currently has 100 foreign militants hiding in Mindanao who have trained an additional 400 to 500 fighters for new attacks, see, Aurea, Calica, "Palace: JIs in Mindanao confirmed but contained", The Philippine Star (The Philippines), (April 23, 2006). 26 "key leader profile - Dulmatin", Terrorism Knowledge Base (Oklahoma City, USA), (March 15, 2006). 27 Jacinto, "Extortion Motive Suspected in Deadly Philippine Grocery Blast". 28 Edd K., Usman, "ARMM Social Fund for Peace", The Manila Bulletin Online, (April 15, 2006). 29 Manny, Mogato, "Manila's Arroyo seeks more aid ahead of peace deal", Reuters, (March 30, 2006). The United States, the European Union, Australia and some Islamic states have already pledged millions of dollars in development assistance to conflict areas and to help restrain the growth of Muslim extremism in the south. 30 Yoong, Ibid. 31 "U.S. Troops in Sulu Fighting Ideas that Breed Terrorism", Ibid. 32 Manny, Mogato, "Philippines' Arroyo calls for passage of terror law", Reuters, (March 28, 2006). 33 Calica, Ibid. 34 AFP and William B. Depasupil, "Terrorism fight risks alienating Muslims", The Manila Times, (April 23, 2006); Mia E., Abellana, "Experts ink Cebu pact against terror", Sun Star (The Philippines), (April 23, 2006). 35 AFP and William B. Depasupil, Ibid. 36 AFP and William B. Depasupil, Ibid. 37 Minerva, Newman, "Feature: Understanding the landscape of terrorism", (April 25, 2006). 38 AFP and William B. Depasupil, Ibid. 39 Abellana, Ibid; Ambassador Benjamin Defensor Jr., chairman of the task force on counterterrorism in Asia-Pacific, described inter-cultural exchanges and peace talks as part of the "soft approach", while the "hard approach" is how the US carries out its aggressive strategy against terrorism, see, Jethro, Dionisio, "Cebu hosts global counterterrorism conference", The Manila Times, (April 21, 2006).