Archive for the ‘Al Qaeda’ Category

Abu Sayyaf extremists warn of beheading ICRC captives

March 30, 2009

After two months of holding the three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers in the mountains of Jolo, Sulu, the kidnappers headed by Albader Parad of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group demanded that military, police and civilian forces must leave 15 barangays in five towns in Sulu within 24 hours. The new demand came after three military men died and 19 others were wounded last week in a skirmish between government forces and members of the Islamic extremists.

There are fresh worries that Swiss Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni, and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba—-the three humanitarian workers snatched by the kidnappers, last January 15, 2009 in Mindanao will be harmed or killed. According to Sulu vice gov. Lady Ann Sahidulla, one of the negotiators said the terrorist group is serious in its threat to decapitate one of the hostages.

The appeal of the ICRC to spare and free the hostages have fallen in deaf ears. With little that it can do, government forces are weighing in on how to resolve the hostage situation which drags on, putting the hostages’ fate in greater danger.

The Abu Sayyaf has a disdainful history of beheading its innocent victims as in case of Peruvian-American Guillermo Sobero who was snatched together with 20 others in a Palawan resort before being killed 8 years ago.

Martin Burnham, a missionary died under Abu Sayyaf hands in a deadly shootout after being held in captivity for more than a year with his wife Gracia. In the past, this violent Islamic group with Al Qaeda ties is known to seek ransom that runs in millions. (Photo Credit: Charlie Saceda) =0=

Pope Appeals for the release of hostages

On March 31, 2009, the Vatican issued an appeal from Pope Benedict to set free the innocent ICRC hostages. The pontiff calls for “humanitarian sensibililty and reason to prevail over violence and intimidation.” His message was sent by the Holy See as the 2 P. M. deadline to comply with the kidnappers’ demand that the military and police pull back from Jolo draws near.

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Fighting between government troops versus Abu Sayyaf kidnappers brings 6 dead

March 17, 2009

After unsuccessful negotiations to free the three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC,) humanitarian workers who were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu, Philippines, a firefight erupted between the rebels and government forces bringing death to at least 3 kidnappers and 3 military men and hurting at least 19 soldiers. Albader Parad, the leader of the notorious kidnappers with links to Al-Qaeda was suspected to have been wounded in the gunfight.

The bloody encountry was sparked by armed Abu Sayyaf bandits who tried to cross the cordon set in the area by government forces.

Airing concern that the hostages— Swiss Andreas Notter, Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba and Italian Eugenio Vagni must not be harmed, the head of ICRC Southeast Asia-Pacific operations Alain Aeschlimann said, “”Their safety is paramount. We repeat our call that no action should be taken that could put (their lives) in danger,”—-Yahoo News/ AP (03/17/09, Gomez, J)

The kidnapped victims have been held since January 2009 by the Islamic extremists who seek the withdrawal of government troops from the area and insinuate on a payment of P50 million ransom. =0=

RELATED BLOG: “Abu Sayyaf kidnappers asks for P50 milllion ransom for ICRC workers” Posted by mesiamd at 3/12/2009

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Fighting between government troops versus Abu Sayyaf kidnappers brings 6 dead

March 17, 2009

After unsuccessful negotiations to free the three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC,) humanitarian workers who were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu, Philippines, a firefight erupted between the rebels and government forces bringing death to at least 3 kidnappers and 3 military men and hurting at least 19 soldiers. Albader Parad, the leader of the notorious kidnappers with links to Al-Qaeda was suspected to have been wounded in the gunfight.

The bloody encountry was sparked by armed Abu Sayyaf bandits who tried to cross the cordon set in the area by government forces.

Airing concern that the hostages— Swiss Andreas Notter, Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba and Italian Eugenio Vagni must not be harmed, the head of ICRC Southeast Asia-Pacific operations Alain Aeschlimann said, “”Their safety is paramount. We repeat our call that no action should be taken that could put (their lives) in danger,”—-Yahoo News/ AP (03/17/09, Gomez, J)

The kidnapped victims have been held since January 2009 by the Islamic extremists who seek the withdrawal of government troops from the area and insinuate on a payment of P50 million ransom. =0=

RELATED BLOG: “Abu Sayyaf kidnappers asks for P50 milllion ransom for ICRC workers” Posted by mesiamd at 3/12/2009

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Abu Sayyaf kidnapped victims appeal for help; their fates still in limbo

February 5, 2009

Three weeks after the three workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were abducted while doing humanitarian work for Sulu prisoners in Southern Philippines, they sent an appeal to the world, particularly the local authorities to work on their release. The Abu Sayyaf Islamic group with Al Qaeda ties had been holding them in an undisclosed forested location while demanding that the military with a force of about 1,000 soldiers pull out from the area.

“Please try to… deal with them, try to find a way to pull us out,” Eugenio Vagni, the 62-year-old engineer, said in an interview aired by a local radio. “We call on concerned authorities to choose to negotiate with the group, to negotiate and we hope that they will take this effort seriously,” said Swiss Andreas Notter, 38, the head of ICRC team abducted in Jolo island on Jan. 15 after a prison sanitation project inspection.—-GMA News.tv / Xinhua (02/05/09)

The initial maneuvers to secure their freedom have not worked. Italian Eugenio Vagni, Swiss Andreas Notter and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba are reportedly treated “well,” but this doesn’t guarantee that this situation will hold until a happy end.

The public reception of the abduction is tepid; there’s practically no outrage from Filipinos and people abroad who have been numbed by banditry in this location. Military officers pin on secrecy and news black out “to protect the safety” of the abducted victims. Behind the scene however, there are those who question the competency of the government in handling the hostage situation. The US embassy in Manila has offered their help and ICRC officials mulls on how the three victims could be rescued.

The longer the abducted workers are held, the public sees clearly the brutality and evil terrorism inflicts on the world. The Abu Sayyaf militants speak of “guest treatment,” on their victims, but it won’t be long when their real motivation comes to light. Nobody will be surprised if ransom, intimidation, and physical harm become the center piece of their familiar modus operandi. (Photo Credit: JezICRCGeneva; Charlie Salceda)=0=

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Three kidnapped Red Cross workers still missing in Mindanao

January 21, 2009

A week after 3 members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were kidnapped in Patikul, Sulu by heavily armed unidentified men on motorcycles, there had been little news on their whereabouts. Swiss Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipina Mary Jean Lacaba were snatched in Southern Philippines on January 15, 2009 during their field inspection of a water sanitation project in Sulu Provincial Jail in Southern Philippines.

Abu Sayyaf, the extremist Islamic group under Albade Parad with Al Qaeda ties had been suspected to be behind the abduction. On Monday, January 19, the kidnapped ICRC workers placed a phone call to their office asking that the military rescue operation be suspended.

Gen. Alexander Yano of the Armed Forces of the Philippines heads the search and rescue operation which show no progress. The military officer keeps a controversial news blackout which he believes is needed so as not to compromise the life of the kidnapped victims.

“Thursday’s abduction was the most high-profile kidnapping of foreigners since 2001, when Abu Sayyaf gunmen snatched nearly two dozen tourists from a resort, including three Americans. One of the Americans was beheaded, a second was killed during a military rescue operation and the third was rescued. The incident prompted Washington to deploy troops in the south starting in 2002, but they are barred from combat.” —Yahoo News / AP (01/17/09, Teves, O)

“Alain Aeschlimann, head of the ICRC’s operations for Asia Pacific in Geneva, said their main concern is to ensure that they continue to be unharmed and that they are let go, without any conditions, as quickly as possible.” —Malaya (01/20/09, Reyes, V)

There is increasing clamor to step up the search. Conflicting rumors heighten the anxiety and feeling of helplessness of hostages’ relatives. With no progress in finding the missing workers, the US Embassy in Manila has offered help to the Philippine authorities. If mishandled, this crisis can quickly degenerate into another round of ransom-giving, then body injuries, and even deaths. Unintended results bring back the old questions on the competence and integrity of the military authorities in solving this kind of dilemma. (Photo Credit: AFP/ ICRC file; Charles Saceda) =0=

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The strange illnesses which followed 911

September 11, 2008

Today marks the seventh anniversary of the day our world was broken. It lives forever in our hearts and our history, a tragedy that unites us in a common memory and a common story.”
—Mayor Michael Bloomberg (New York City, September 11, 2008)

As I listened to the names of those who perished in New York when Al Qaeda rammed planes into the Twin Towers, I felt as though I was back again to relive the horror. The tolling of the bells was a grim reminder. Almost 4,000 died including more than 300 brave firefighters who prematurely left their families, their last moments spent to saving lives and answering the call of duty

On September 11, 2001, I was at home in a high-rise building in Manhattan just a little north of Chinatown when the planes struck at the World Trade Center (WTC.) The mayhem that ensued could only be hinted by the incessant blare of sirens which went on for days in the neighborhood. On my window sill was an eerie veil of ash that rained from the sky and a pungent smell of flesh and incomplete combustion wafted in the air. The street outside was powdery as though a different kind of snow fell, off winter season.


The immeasurable damage of 911 still persists and is unraveling. As the world remembers, countless more live with the adverse effects of the tragedy. Thousands of those exposed to the toxic fumes, pulverized concrete, heavy metals and carcinogenic agents have reported health problems—from psychological stress, traumatic injuries, asthma to irreversible fibrosing damage on the lungs.

Potentially WTC-Associated Conditions
Triad Described by Clinicians:
-Chronic Rhinitis and Rhinosinusitis
-Asthma; Reactive Airways Dysfunction (RADS)
-Gartroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD);
Laryngopharyngeal Reflux Disease (LRPD)
Source: New York City Dep’t of Health & Hygiene Vol 21 (6):41-54

In the gray zones farther from ground zero there were people with preexisting medical conditions whose disease overlapped with new health problems which might be linked with the disaster’s aftermath. For majority of them however, no one could be 100% sure. As a physician, I could only imagine how hard it would be to ascribe these illnesses specifically to 911.


Though exposure to the fumes and dust of 911 wasn’t strikingly obvious to many, there’s no way to exactly quantify. My lung problem joins the umbrella of diseases seen in those exposed to the dangerous dust and fumes. I could only guess what I got, bronchiolitis obliterans with organizing pneumonia (BOOP,) had something to do with the pollution from the collapsed buildings. In a background of an immune blood disorder I suffered before 911 however, it would be hard to make an air-tight connection. But I knew this kind of pulmonary problem had been attributed to the respiratory illnesses that caused the debility and deaths of many rescue workers.

This uncertainty is shared by countless innocent victims of terror. Thousands of us harbor sicknesses that are confounding and debilitating, causing breathing difficulties, unspeakable pain, and mental anguish. The medical service delivery system has been taxed as health workers try to help with the rising costs of treatment. It has caused many insurance benefits to be denied. Lawsuits have to be fought in courts to settle liability claims.

Time, treasure, and money have been wasted because a few misguided rogues with warped ideologies and fanatical religious beliefs unleashed their anger on human beings who could well be their own sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, and friends.(Photo Credits: bear_inter) =0=
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Amidst complacency and denial, terror persists, USA & the world still on the edge

September 10, 2008

Two days before the 7th year after 911, a bipartisan report suggests that the United States is still dangerously at risk of being attacked by weapons of mass destruction (WMB’s.) Democrats critical of Pres. George W. Bush are quick to highlight the dangers. And they don’t leave the psyche of Americans traumatized by the randomness of the attack.

The report and supporting studies describe the failure of international cooperation to prevent terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction, which they call a major problem. Many countries continue to ignore a United Nations mandate to prevent the spread of weapons; the ability of many countries to monitor potential bioterrorism is “essentially nonexistent,” and dangerous chemical weapons stockpiles remain in some countries, including Russia and Libya, the report said.” AP (09/09/08, BlackledgeB; SullivanE.)

In spite of moves to make the homeland secure, the nature of terrorism makes it hard to wipe out the threats. This worry is part of the legacy of 911 when the rules of engagement of war have been defined by a small group of extremists who are bent to make America and the rest of the civilized world accede to Al Qaeda’s and other Islamic toxic ideology of hate.

Bringing America down has serious implications in emerging and poor countries like the Philippines whose economies will further suffer in the midst of a threat of war, worldwide recession, dwindling resources, and exploding population. Though Pres. Bush must be credited for foiling a number of plots and in improving security during his administration, many don’t look at it this way. It is hard to see success in prevention that has an astronomical price tag.

The cost of underwriting a protective shield for Americans and the world is causing a toll on the US economy. Only when another attack as spectacular and hideous as 911 will Americans, (especially the cynical and complacent) will realize that the world they know has been turned upside down by a few rogues who wait for the singular chance to do harm and damage. Terror resonates in 911 and the attacks in Madrid, London, Jerusalem, Riyadh, Nairobi, Bali, Manila and other cities worldwide. As security experts experts have said, it’s not a question of if that another attack will be waged, but when. (Photo Credits: AP/TayloC;bp.blogspot)=0=