The tattoo found on the militant's corpse caused a good deal of consternation with the Muslim's making the media record of this bit of Muslim-on-Muslim violence, with a level of detail shown that is a rare departure from what's usual allowed by the controls---who in this case are also Muslim, being the Pakistani intelligence services who exert power over that nation's nuclear arsenal, and so, just below the surface, control the nature and course of the society too. Since body work like this is verboten in Islam, it is not necessarily the content, or meaning ascribed to it, that would so shock the senses it would somehow destabilize the usual protocols in place, which keep messages like this safely on the covert side of things, were instead broken.
So Khalid has an interesting time trying to figure out just who this guy is. Khalid rightly gets that the whole terrorist ploy is a game run out of London and Langley, but the typical actors who play in these scenarios---low-cost mercenaries-for-hire like the Tajiks, Gorkhas and Uzbeks---even if their politics is made up, and their ideology is just a marketing pose--they are at least for-real Muslims, for whom this just ain't haram.
Khalid is generally familiar with the results of the American military tradition of tattooing, which this design most closely resembles. But death-conscious flaming skulls, or the victorious marine corps' member's self-identification as a "hound of hell," while that certainly does dance with the devil, it doesn't actually roll over and get fucked up the ass by him, or her. That traditional iconography is world's apart, and at least a league less deep than the message crafted on this dead man's back in Pakistan, and what its revelation means to signify to a Reuters audience.
Just by its scale, and in its central placement, still covert, but now placed directly over the chacra of compassion, this tattoo would represent some kind of development in the expression of evil (for what that's worth,) but in its details, and especially by its framing device -- what I take to be an over-life-sized hand, like the hand of God found in the center of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, here with the palm opened in a Hosanna, or a "send off" -- the diabolical is making some progress, but only because we let it. I prefer to see it as kite flying.
In the following photograph, even with an erect military cap on there's nothing sexy about this skull, hiding like a scaredy-cat above its barbed-wire confines, derived from the sleeve hemline of a summer tee shirt. Once upon a time, when Satan was drawn by somebody like Vargas -- which was several generations of men and several wars back -- things had more bounce, with a little un-naughty life left in them. But the harder the effort at "evil" conception, the more hollowed out and extinguished the imaginer's aim, the more attenuated the grimace, the less gain is made in scare power.
So the trick is in not buying in to the whorl of effort being made to engage us as its opposites. It's not even grist for our mills; it's only a snake being continuously fed its own tail; and after it shoots its wad being reveled and seen, there's absolutely nothing left.
The following article, "Abu Sayyaf: Too many leaders," from the Philippine Star, came very earlier---less than two weeks after the originating Sipadan hijacking was undertaken, (the Basilan school abductions, which preceded Sipadan by a few weeks, was a mere priming of the public-relations pump, but the effort was so poorly executed, officials waited ten years before beginning to make prosecutions for it, when they thought all was safely forgotten. The article, a bare attempt at a comprehensive look at the power structure of the Abu Sayyaf poseur terrorist gang, was written by Paolo Romero, perhaps the only writer talented and positioned enough to attempt a construction, but even he would never attempt something real like this again.
Because it's an utter failure at its intended goal, and if that wasn't self-evident when it was current, it sure is thirteen years later. A recipe for cake whose ingredients could only add up to mud pies.
Even the title bears my "Signature Sign of Satan," which is a truth turned 180 degrees on its head. Too many leaders? As in too many cooks? But here are no leaders here. Other than Janjalani, who turned twenty-five the month the kidnappings commenced, and who appears to be of an extended family clan with connections locally that is the main cultural system of holding and organizing power, the other four out of five making up this Who's Who list, are so roughly sketched in as individualized figures that any claim to effort at a backstop in their stories is as unsubstantiated as a soap bubble whose reputation precedes it.
With three of these men Romero repeats nearly the identical refrain:
"...little is known about Sahiron."While the most visible media presence throughout the 2001-2002 period when "Abu Sayyaf" was being turned into a household name worldwide, was Abu Ahmad Salayuddin, popularly known as "Abu Sabaya," who has popped up completely sui generis:
"Little is also known about Andang,"
"He was an unknown until he introduced himself as the group's spokesman..."
The 1999 roster of Abu Sayyaf leaders made no mention of Salayuddin.
A former MNLF rebel, he led the abduction of the teachers and schoolchildren.
May 29, 2000, The Philippine Star, Abu Sayyaf: Too many leaders, by
For two weeks now, government negotiator Robert Aventajado has been trying to secure the release of 21 mostly foreign hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf extremists in Sulu.
The drawn-out negotiations are not because the government cannot meet the rebels' demands; rather, the rebels don't seem to know what they want.
Aventajado, President Estrada's adviser on flagship projects, leads a seven-member negotiating team formed by President Estrada. Aventajado has repeatedly complained of receiving piecemeal demands from several Abu Sayyaf rebels -- each claiming to be the group's leader.
This confirms military reports that since the death of Abu Sayyaf founder Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani in a shootout with police in Basilan on Dec. 18, 1998, no single leader of the extremist group has emerged. All major decisions have to decided by a panel of four or five leaders, including Janjalani's younger brother, Khadaffi.
"When Aburajak was killed, Khadaffi did not immediately take his brother's place. So for some time there was a (power) vacuum," a military intelligence officer, who declined to be identified, told The STAR.
Khadaffi Janjalani is reportedly hiding in Basilan where he is being hunted down by soldiers rescuing eight people, including six children, his group kidnapped on March 20. Aventajado had said Janjalani was not among the Abu Sayyaf leaders he met in Sulu.
Janjalani's absence is believed to be hampering the hostage negotiations but the military suspects that the Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf unit regularly communicates with him.
Classified military documents obtained by The STAR showed that as of late 1999, the Abu Sayyaf leadership is headed by its Islamic executive council, chaired by Janjalani, and has two branches each overseeing operations in Basilan and Sulu.
The council manages seven smaller branches, each in charge of various responsibilities such as personnel and operations, urban demolition and intelligence, finance, and medical.
There are also group leaders and territorial unit heads. All in all, about 18 men lead a group of about 1,000 fighters scattered in Basilan, Sulu, Zamboanga, Cotabato and General Santos City.
Military reports said the Abu Sayyaf strength has dwindled by at least five percent from 1998 to 1999 and the group has turned into a seeming gang of bandits rather than a rebel group fighting in the name of Islam.
Khadaffi Janjalani alias Khadafi Montanio
The younger brother of the late Abu Sayyaf founder Abdurajak Janjalani,Khadaffi Janjalani is the overall leader. He was born in Isabela, Basilan in March 1975 to Abubakar Janjalani and Vilma Montanio.
He only finished fourth year high school at Basilan National Islamic High School in 1993. Aside from Abdurajak, Janjalani has four other siblings. One of them is Hector, Abu Sayyaf chief urban demolitionist and intelligence officer.
Janjalani was arrested in May 1995 in Jolo, Sulu for kidnapping and was detained at Camp Crame in Quezon City. He escaped and fled to Basilan.
He was arrested again on Feb. 15, 1997 by the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Cebu City but got out on bail. Janjalani has three warrants of arrest for murder and robbery issued by an Isabela court.
Prior to Abdurajak's death, Janjalani was the Abu Sayyaf's finance and liaison officer keeping contacts in Cebu City, Manila and other cities.
Military sources said, so far, there have been no indications that he underwent guerrilla warfare training like his brother who reportedly trained in Libya and Afghanistan.
Janjalani also could have been influenced by his elder brother's radicalism. But he ascended the Abu Sayyaf leadership, sources said, only because he was a Janjalani.
Abu Ahmad Salayuddin alias Abu Sabaya
He was an unknown until he introduced himself as the group's spokesman during last April's negotiation in Basilan for the release of a group of teachers and schoolchildren they seized in Sumisip town.
The 1999 roster of Abu Sayyaf leaders made no mention of Salayuddin.
But his savvy in confusing government negotiators -- by demanding actor Robin Padilla to act as negotiator, 200 sacks of rice and the release of World Trade Center bombing mastermind Ramzi Ahmed Yousef -- led the military to believe that he is an old hand and got terrorist training in the Middle East.
Unconfirmed reports said Salayuddin and Janjalani quarreled over the handling of the Basilan hostages. Janjalani reportedly got angry over Salayuddin's aggressive posturing that could have endangered the lives of Janjalani's family and relatives who were held hostage by a vigilante in group in Basilan in retaliation for the kidnapping of the teachers and schoolchildren. Salayuddin is believed to have escaped to Zamboanga City following a military assault on their lair in Mt. Punoh Mohadje in Basilan on May 3.
Radullan Sahiron alias Commander Putol
Aside from being the overall leader of the Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf and a close friend and deputy of the late Abdurajak Janjalani and Galib Andang, little is known about Sahiron. It is believed that he received guerrilla training either in Libya, Iran, Syria or Afghanistan. Sahiron, a former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) commander, participated in the notorious April 1995 attack on Ipil town in Zamboanga del Sur in which at least 53 people were killed and the whole town center was razed.
He also led a 1996 ambush against a Marine unit in Patikul, Sulu, killing four. He was one of the rebels who attempted to worm through a military dragnet with some of the 21 mostly foreign hostages in Sulu.
Galib Andang alias Commander Robot
Little is also known about Andang who is also a former MNLF rebel. Military officials insist, however, he is more known as a leader of a kidnap and pirate gang operating in Sulu.
Among his victims were Catholic nuns Sisters Fatima Oribaren and Julia Forrester, Catholic priest Fr. Clarence Berterlsman, Xiao Lu, Chi Ming Cho, Tong Ket Ming, Cheung Yau Law and Edwin Indoso.
A close associate of Sahiron, Andang and his men snatched the 21 mostly foreign hostages from the Malaysian diving resort of Sipadan. He led the transfer of the hostages to Patikul town to escape a military dragnet rescuing the captives.
Andang is among the Abu Sayyaf leaders meeting with government negotiators.
Facing four arrest warrants for murder, robbery and kidnapping, Hapilon is the overall leader of the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan. A former MNLF rebel, he led the abduction of the teachers and schoolchildren.
He and Sahiron had planned to launch an Ipil-like attack on Isabela if the hostage negotiation bogged down.
Hapilon is believed to have been killed during a military attack against the Abu Sayyaf's Camp Abdurajak in Mt. Punoh Mohadje on May 3 but the military could not confirm this.
Jun. 8, 1994, AP News Archive, Followers of Besieged Muslim Extremist Kill 16 Hostages, 6:56 AM ET
ZAMBOANGA, PHILIPPINES ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AP) _ Followers of a renegade Muslim extremist waylaid a civilian convoy today, seized about 50 hostages and killed at least 16, officials said.
A wounded survivor said in a radio interview that the four gunmen killed male hostages because they were a burden as the rebels fled pursuing troops. He said he did not know what had happened to five women and a Roman Catholic priest who were separated from the other hostages.
The attack occurred on the island of Basilan, which has no telephones. Details were confused because different government agencies were reporting by voice radio to the Southern Command headquarters in nearby Zamboanga.
Basilan police chief Jundam Abdula said armed followers of Abubakar Janjalani, leader of the Abu Sayyaf group, stopped a convoy of one bus and two jeeps 7 miles from the town of Isabela on Basilan.
About 90 people were believed in the convoy. Police said the gunmen seized about 50 passengers and drivers, but released all but 22.
In a radio dispatch from Basilan, Christopher Puno, spokesman for the 2nd Marine Brigade, reported that 16 hostages had been killed.
The survivor, passenger jeep conductor Demetrio Abellana, did not say how many hostages were slain.
''They separated us from the women. Then we were hogtied and then they sprayed us with automatic gun fire," said Abellana, who was hit in the leg. ''I pretended to be dead.''
First reports had identified the 22 hostages as Christian women schoolteachers and a priest.
The kidnapped priest was identified as the Rev. Cirilo Nacorda. He had been assigned to a parish on Basilan as the successor to a Spanish priest, the Rev. Bernardo Blanco, who was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf group in March 1993 but escaped two months later.
Abdula said the gunmen were also responsible for the August 1992 kidnapping of Franciscan missionary Gerald Fraszczack of Chicago.
Fraszczack was released several months later. Kidnappings are common in Muslim areas of the southern Philippines, in part because those responsible are rarely prosecuted due to their links to influential clans.
Troops launched a major operation last week to destroy the fundamentalist Abu Sayyaf group, responsible for many bombings and kidnappings in the south.
Fighting has centered on the island of Jolo, about 100 miles southwest of Zamboanga. Basilan is between Zamboanga and Jolo.
The kidnapping followed reports that Janjalani has been taken captive by relatives of a slain deputy seeking to collect a reward.
Lt. Gen. Orlando Soriano, chief of the Southern Command, said Janjalani was being held hostage in a village on Jolo by relatives of Radulan Sahiron, who was killed Monday during an assault on the group's hideout.
Soriano said Sahiron's relatives wanted the $56,000 reward offered for Janjalani. On Tuesday, Gov. Tupay Loong of Sulu province, which includes Jolo, said he would add another $7,400.
The military commander said he has started negotiations with relatives of Sahiron for Janjalani's arrest. He added that the government would give them the reward.
The shadowy Abu Sayyaf group surfaced in 1993. Janjalani, a former student in Libya, espouses a social ideology more religiously oriented than the larger and more secular Moro National Liberation Front.
The front, which operates on Jolo, has been waging its insurgency for 20 years but entered into new peace talks with the government last year.
It appeared the offensive against Abu Sayyaf was launched to remove the group as a potential rival to the front within the 6 million-strong Muslim community.
March 16, 2004, The Philippine Star, Abu ferry "bomber" died in 2000 -- PNP, by Christina Mendez,
The Philippine National Police (PNP) dismissed yesterday claims made by the Abu Sayyaf that it was responsible for the blast that started a fire which gutted the SuperFerry 14 last Feb. 27.
Director Robert Delfin, PNP Directorate for Intelligence chief, said their investigation showed that the man named by the bandit group as its "suicide bomber" -- Arnulfo Alvarado, listed as "Passenger 51" in the ferry's manifest -- had long been killed in a battle with the military in Mindanao.
"We have verified information from one of the Abu Sayyaf members now under custody that the name they claimed as the one aboard the SuperFerry 14 has been dead since 2000," Delfin said.
Bandit leader Khaddafi Janjalani reportedly named Alvarado as the one who detonated a bomb in the blue section or tourist class area of the ship.
Authorities said their initial investigation showed that the explosion took place in the vicinity of bunk 51, the occupant of which was later identified as Alvarado.
Based on the ship's manifest, Alvarado was listed as a 33-year-old passenger bound for Cagayan de Oro City. He was among those confirmed missing and whom no relative had inquired about.
Delfin, however, ruled out the Abu Sayyaf's claim and supported the initial findings of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) that the fire could have been sparked by a gas leak in the ferry's tourist class area.
"If it was a terror attack, there could have been bombs placed in other areas of the ship to create major damage that would endanger the lives of all the passengers and crew, and possibly sink the entire ship," he said.
Delfin added that the PNP will still wait for the final results of the probe now being conducted by the Special Board of Marine Inquiry.
Abu Sayyaf in Manila?
PNP chief Director General Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., for his part, downplayed reports that Abu Sayyaf bandits are in Metro Manila to conduct terror activities.
"Those are just insinuations. We set up a very good monitoring program in Metro Manila and we can say there's nothing to worry about in Metro Manila," he said, adding that the PNP has not received any information that members of the terror group are now in the metropolis.
Ebdane's statements contradicted those made by National Capital Region Police Office chief Director Ricardo de Leon, who was quoted as saying the NCRPO received intelligence reports indicating several bandits are in Manila and plan to spring free their members and leaders currently detained in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.
"I have not received such reports. I have to call Director De Leon insofar as we are concerned, we have to confirm before it comes out," Ebdane said.
De Leon had said police forces in Metro Manila increased their level of alertness last Sunday amid reports that the bandits are planning to attack key establishments in the metropolis. He also ordered additional checkpoints and deployed more policemen in the field.
De Leon also directed the transfer of Abu Sayyaf members detained at the NCRPO office in Bicutan to more secure detention cells and had the cells' padlocks replaced.
"Whether or not the reports are confirmed, it is much better to be ready for any possible incidents that might occur," he said.
Delfin said the PNP recently verified that top bandit leader Abu Solaiman returned to Mindanao after staying in Metro Manila some two weeks ago. He did not rule out the possibility that Abu Sayyaf members may go to Metro Manila to lie low because of the intensified operations against them in Mindanao.
In a related development, the PNP has formed a task force whose primary duty is to guard the country's seaports and airports and prevent the repeat of the SuperFerry 14 tragedy that left 29 people dead and some 90 people missing last month.
Delfin said the task force will augment another group from the DOTC that will also handle the security of all forms of transport systems in the Philippines.
DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza earlier formed "Task Force: Seaport" to intensify police visibility in key airports, seaports, and land transportation systems in the country, he added.
Delfin noted that the PNP is just one of the key agencies tapped to implement the intensified security measures in all ports of entry and exit in the country, following an order from President Arroyo last week.
"There is an order from Malacañang to address these issues as an offshoot of the SuperFerry 14 incident. The government does not want a repeat of the incident so a task force was formed," he said, adding that the task force started operating last week.
The PNP Maritime Group will be the lead police unit to assist the DOTC in ensuring the safety of sea travelers and others using mass land and air transport.
Intelligence operatives from the PNP and the Armed Forces will be deployed on a need-to-know basis, depending on the assessment of threats at air and seaports, a police official said.
Delfin said the newly formed PNP task force is different from the one handling security at the airports, although the Aviation Security Group is under the PNP's jurisdiction as well.