This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Bleak Desperation on Jolo Island

"Reading the tea leaves, I see no noticeable developments."
"[President-elect Duterte] presumably vowed to go after Abu Sayyaf. But we don't see anything specific that makes us believe that any new operation is likely to come before the deadline [for ransom, before the hostages are killed]." 
"I wish we had been able to find out more about Mr. Hall. I am singularly impressed at his ability to remain cool in the videos. He has carried himself with great calm and presence of mind. Any of us who could begin to imagine being put in such a position would be hard-pressed to do the same."
Mark Singer, director, business intelligence, Pacific Strategies and Assessments Inc., Manila

"[Duterte is] the only person with the added leverage in Mindanao, through his connections with different rebel groups, to help the hostages."
"He has given Canada assurances that he will do his utmost to help the Canadian hostage."
[The president's] primary concerns are law and order, so related issues such as hostages and terrorism are at the top of his agenda. I would not take Duterte's word lightly."
Richard Heydarian, political scientist, De La Salle University, Manila
Manman Dejeto / AFP, Getty Images
Manman Dejeto / AFP, Getty Images    Philippines' president-elect Rodrigo Duterte gives a press conference in Davao City on June 2, 2016.

Canada's new Prime Minister asserts with confidence that his decision not to surrender to the demands of kidnappers demanding hefty ransom for the release of foreign nationals that they abduct in what amounts to a business venture to keep themselves in good financial health to be enabled to buy more arms and whatever else it takes to pursue their jihadist agenda in the Philippines, is the right one, because, as he says, 'it's the right thing to do'.

On an objective plane it most certainly is. Subjectively, not so much, given that human lives hang in the balance. Justin Trudeau can afford to be smugly righteous about his decision, one he claims is not new with his administration, but which has been Canadian policy for a long time under other administrations. Stated policy it is indeed, but there have always been ways through subterfuge in which negotiations could be undertaken while muting the presence of the government, and rescues have occurred.

Outgoing Philippines president, Benigno Aquino, spoke of the military operations within the Philippines structured "to constrict" Abu Sayyaf, the jihadist group operating on Jolo Island on the Celebes Sea. He emphasized that the "most elite forces" had been tasked with spearheading the mission to rescue the captives and destroy the terrorist group and its stronghold. Indeed, his successor has a well-earned reputation for facing up to terrorists with venomous violence equal to their own.

The problem appears to be that the mountainous, forested area represented by the jihadists' stronghold are confusing to those elite forces who made some initial headway then found themselves unable to proceed with the dispatch that was originally anticipated. The Abu Sayyaf terrorists, on the other hand, are intimately connected with the terrain, and know it well, making them elusive to confrontation, despite the intent of the 'elite' troops.

The beheading of John Ridsdel in Mindanao effectively delivered the message that Abu Sayyaf is not averse to using the same shocking methods of Islamic State to which it has claimed affiliation, and which are mandated under Islam as due punishment for many offences against Islam. Another deadline had been issued for June 13 for a $8-million ransom for Robert Hall, with no word over whether with his ransom Marites Flor and Kjartan Sekkingstad would also be released.

Photo published for Abu Sayyaf releases 'final' hostage video
Abu Sayyaf released a 'final' video of hostages pleading for release - SITE Intel Group

Moreover, President Aquino, while speaking of the elite troops' struggle in the difficult terrain to track down the Abu Sayyaf jihadis and their prey, spoke also of the local community that was, he said, "very heavily influenced" by the fact that Abu Sayyaf has in the past shared ransom payments with them when they have succeeded in extracting millions in ransom from other national sources for the release of their hapless nationals. We call them terrorists, the locals view them as liberators.

"The incoming government is trying to help. People from here are communicating by phone with people from the top. But there are others involved now who confuse the situation. I think that they are the families of the kidnap victims."
Abdusakur Tan, Sulu province deputy governor, Maubo Beach

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