Generation 'Munduhins' from Basilan
On July 16, 2000 Abu Sayyaf
Janjalani (2nd from left) and Radulan
from left) posed with fellow Abu Sayyaf rebels outside their jungle hideout
in southern Philippines for this rare photo for the world to see.
Then, 'Mujahadeens' Today
My playmates were future Abu Sayyafs
By JOHN L. SHINN
Some of them look younger than my 17-year-old son John. Yet, they look confident,
and equally at ease as they posed, heavily-armed, for this picture
(above) for the world to see.
As I look at their faces I'm instantly transported
back in time in 1969 when my father, John Atilano Shinn Jr. was
managing a logging
plantation in Mangal, Basilan owned by Peter Murga.
During those days, the term "Muslim rebel" was
They were called "munduhins."
My entire family went to live in Mangal for a few
years. Coming from the Big City the island's deep isolation from
civilization made me appreciate the inner peace I found from
the remoteness of the place.
As third generation Filipino-Americans and for
being light-skinned, my younger siblings and I found ourselves the
objects of curiousity by plantation workers and their families. We
became instant celebrities in a land civilization forgot.
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I spent most mornings fishing at a nearby river with
workers' children. After lunch, I would spend the rest of the afternoon
in the rubber processing shed watching people at work and asking
My dad's reputation as "peace-maker" and "sincere"
person made him very popular on
the island. It seemed then that we were always invited to birthday
celebrations (Muslim and Chris-
tians), weddings and other special
I still remember town names like Canas, Sumisip,
others I don't even remember now. Baby Rhesus
became the family's favorite pets around the big house and wild
meat deepfried in a saucepan became my favorite every-
I also remember our plantation transportation "weapons carrier" and
"Willy's Jeep" being stopped numerous times along the way home to
Mangal from the city of Isabela by "munduhin" leaders and their
followers to give
my father a "canastro" (big wooven baskets) of assorted fruits of
marang, lanzones, mangoes, rambutan and
They said very little else, but it was their way of
saying thank you to my dad for
his generosity and kindness toward his workers, especially the Yakan
workers. Even my dad's personal bodyguard, Naho, was a "Munduhin" until
my dad hired him.
The young rebels in the picture (above) could very well be
grandchildren of my father's plantation workers since a majority of
them were Muslims, mostly from the Yakan tribe.
A few days a week, a police officer named "Bais" and a dozen of
his heavily-armed bodyguards came to visit my dad at the logging camp
to exchange stories over cold bottles of San Miguel beer and Johnny
Walker on the
Bais would be driving a topdown WWII vintage Willy's Jeep.
The jeep's dark-colored bumper was painted with several white vertical
stripes which, he said, represented the number of "mun-
already killed as a cop. Bais was a local legend admired even by those
who hate him: his enemies.
As the sun disappeared over the horizon, my dad
and Bais would welcome the "munduhin" leader in the area and his
entourage of equally heavily-armed rebels as they enter the camp's
entrance. Then my dad and both leaders would continue drinking into the
night while their guards chat with one another drinking strong, dark
coffee and chain-smoking Champion cigarettes.
From the rubber processing shed a quarter mile
away, laughter could be heard echoing through the cold and chilly night.
The logging camp served as a "neutral ground" for
the local police force and their arch enemies, the rebels. This is the
only place where both sides can lay down their firearms and not worry
about being shot or ambushed. This was how my dad earned the respect of
tians and Muslims (hence, the baskets upon baskets of fruits we
received from the rebels as gifts) alike.
Several years later when the logging
plantation was closed, my entire
family went back to
Zamboanga City. A number of my dad's
young workers expressed their desire to go with him in search of
a better life.
During my family's stay in Mangal I've never heard
from anyone --- not even my parents --- say that I was different from
other kids at
the plantation because I was Catholic and my playmates (our worker's
children) were Muslims.
As far as I was concerned, as a 10-year old then,
was that all the
kids there were my friends. And we all had a great time going hunting,
fishing or just watching our parents at work.
going for the bumpy ride to Isabela to watch movies at the theaters.
Today, I'm sad to say that the island of Basilan
remains the most
negelected and underdeveloped area in the entire Philippine archipelago
despite it's proximity to Zamboanga City, the country's third largest
And over the last 30 years, the national government
in Manila did very little to help the poor majority in Basilan rise
above the poverty that has kept them deprived, uneducated and often
open for exploitation by those in power.
To me, the "munduhins" of the late '60s were the
Abu Sayyafs of today. Only now it is composed of the third generation
up watching their fathers and grandfathers fight the same struggle with
the same enemy all
Only this time, the enemy brings a friend along named
WAS IN IPIL' SHIRT. This self-portrait
was taken in my room at the New World Hotel in Manila when I visited
Philippines in 1996. The shirt I was wearing shows a town in flames
the words: "I WAS IN IPIL." Ipil was attacked by 200 heavily-armed men
on April 4, 1995. At the time, the military blamed an unknown group
Abu Sayyaf for the attack. But many observers believe the attack was
by the Philippine military to divert the nation's attention and anger
the Ramos Administration for the March 15, 1995 hanging of Filipina
Flor Contemplacion in Singapore. By the way, the shirts were
by the military to journalists who covered the carnage in Ipil. Photo
by JOHN L. SHINN III / LAZT
SAYYAF: A CREATION OF THE MILITARY.
A survivor of the attack in Ipil (seated, center) was presented to the
media in Zamboanga City a few days after the looting and burning of the
thriving town in Zamboanga del Sur. At far right is Gen. Edgardo
Southern Command chief. Three years later, a retired Gen. Batenga told
reporters in Davao City that the Abu Sayyaf was the creation of the
by JOHN L. SHINN III / LAZT
OF THE CARNAGE IN IPIL click
of the Abu Sayyaf click
Links To Police, Military
The CIA’s Monster Gone
Urges Congress Probe of
Sayyaf Links with Police & Military click
Report: Philippine Daily Inquirer click
IN BASILAN. Army troopers ride in a
with their M-16
as they escort military officials in Isabela, the capital of the island
province of Basilan, southern Philippines.
of the Janjalani Bros. to Pres. Arroyo click
REPORT: INSIDE THE ABU SAYYAF click
-- Nadzmi Sabdullah alias Commander "Global", one of the top leaders of
the Abu Sayyaf and the brain of all the bandit's kidnapping activities
was captured Friday in General Santos City, a military spokesman, said
here Monday, July 9.
The capture of Global took place when police operatives swooped down
villages but failed to catch bandit leader Khadafy Janjalani, who has
in the western part of Zamboanga City.
Armed Forces Southern Command spokesman Army Lt. Col. Danilo Servando
Global was captured by combined military and police intelligence
at 7 p.m. Friday at Barangay Calumpang, General Santos City.
Global, who carries a P5-million bounty, was captured together with an
Abu Sayyaf bandit sub-leader Tuttoh Harawatan and bandits Alex Saddala
and Saltima Sali, who has a P1-million bounty each.
The arrest of Global and his three cohorts was made possible through
information given by the police and military informants.
"The capture of Global is definitely a big blow to the Abu Sayyaf,"
said as the military expects more development from his arrest.
"One thing leads to another and definitely the arrest of Global and his
group will result to further apprehension," he added.
Servando enumerated the bandits' terrorist activities planned by Global
abduction of 21 people, mostly foreigners, on April 23 of last year in
Sipadan, Sabah, Malaysia
for a fee of nine foreign journalist covering the Sipadan kidnapping on
May 13 last year in Patikul, Sulu;
in Mount Puti Odong situated in the border of Talipao and Maimbung
Sulu where the 21 people seized from Sipadan, Sabah, Malaysia were kept
of two Hong Kong and one Malaysian nationals in Malamanok island,
of American priest, Fr. Clarence Bertelsman in Jolo, Sulu on 1997 and
Spanish nuns, also in Jolo on 1993;
in the killing of a certain Marine Cpl. Magtiza and kidnapping of Edwin
Endoso in Jolo, Sulu;
raid last May 21 Pearl Farm in the Garden City of Samal, Davao City;
of 20 people, including three Americans last May 27 from Dos Palmas
resort in Palawan.
Global was also believe to be the brain of Ipil raid in 1995 where 57
were killed, scores wounded, ransack banks and burned down the town's
Servando said the military has received report that Global was in
Santos to get the firearms he entrusted to a friend and at the same
to search for another possible kidnapping target.
Although Global and his three companions were captured Friday night,
identities were established Sunday afternoon following tactical
"Intelligence operations will always take time. We have to develop the
case, develop the situation and the culmination of the operations will
be the arrest and apprehension of the suspect," Servando said.
Global was the third top bandit leader captured by the military here in
Mindanao. The first was bandit intelligence officer Mullo Abdullah
Boy Iran and second, supply officer Jose Wong alias Mustafa Amil.
Servando said Commander Global was placed under tactical interrogation
and will be turned over to the court to face charges for various crimes
he is involve.
Meanwhile, Zamboanga City Police Chief of Intelligence, Chief Inspector
Jose Bayani Gucela disclosed that their operation to catch Janjalani in
the villages of Sinunuc and Ayala in this city yielded negative result.
The intelligence operation was launched following reports that
together with seven followers and a pregnant woman has landed Friday
in Sinunuc and proceeded to nearby Barangay Ayala.
"They were very highly mobile. Possibly they had returned to Basilan,"
Gucela said citing the bandits can easily travel from one place to the
other as they were equipped with 200-horse power speedboat.
However, he said surveillance and monitoring continue although the
are no longer within the area of operations of the Zamboanga City
intellectual behind Abu Sayyaf Group: Commander Global
JOLO, Sulu --- Nadzmie Saabdulla
Commander Global, the first of the Abu Sayyaf leaders to fall into the
hands of the law, commands respect not only among his peers but foreign
journalists as well.
This was clearly shown in a video, shown on local television of an
of 10 foreign journalists during last year’s Sipadan hostage
Although the hostages, mostly European television crew and reporters,
released after 12 hours with the payment of $25,000 in ransom, the
taken by an Australian cameraman preserved on film their experience
beginning to end.
More importantly, it vividly demonstrated the leadership dynamics
the Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf.
The video initially showed Galib Andang alias Commander Robot talking
a German TV reporter.
The two appeared like old friends, smiling and laughing, as if sharing
jokes. Then one noticed some movement in the background, as other
journalists appeared to be walking in single file, apparently obeying
orders spoken by an unseen person.
The camera panned to Robot and the German. Robot was holding the arm of
the foreigner, as if holding him back, but the other seemed to be
that he wanted to join the rest.
The expression on Robot’s face turned serious. He whispered something
the German, but the latter pointed to himself and then to a direction
obviously where his colleagues were.
Then a voice was clearly heard shouting in Tausug: “Why? Let him come,
let him come right now.”
Andang reluctantly let go of the German’s arm, and, looking relieved,
journalist eagerly went off to join the tail end of the line
into the jungle, straight into captivity.
The voice that Robot was compelled to obey belonged to Global.
The soft-spoken Global maintained a low profile.
Knowledgeable in Islam and a wide reader, he is the acknowledged
among the Abu Sayyaf leaders, impressing even foreign journalists with
his articulateness and seeming sincerity in pursuing his “cause.”
"Impassioned” was how a French radio correspondent described Global’s
of his ideology: Only governance based on the Shari’ah, and a return to
the strict moral precepts of Islam, would be workable for the
His credibility among the Abu Sayyaf followers is apparently based on
simple fact that he lived what he preached. He adhered to a spartan
and spent his days according to a rigid program of prayers, reflection
It is said that among the known Abu Sayyaf leaders, he is the only one
who completed a college education, earning a degree in criminology from
the Zamboanga A.E. Colleges.
In the TV footage of the press conference yesterday during which the
presented Global to the media, a close-up showed a round scar on his
hand, the stamp of membership in the Beta Sigma fraternity at the
of the Philippines.
Among his “brods” are former Flagship Projects Secretary Robert
and retired Gen. Guillermo Ruiz, both of whom figured prominently in
negotiations for the release of the Sipadan hostages.
During that months-long hostage crisis, Global and fellow Indanan
Abu Pula Jumdail fortified themselves in Samak in Talipao, near
But it was Robot or his emissaries who made the trips to Samak, and not
the other way around, for no major decision was made without Global’s
Abu Sayyaf followers related that whenever the leaders discussed
issues, Global would sit quietly listening, and usually spoke only
everyone had exhausted his point.
When he did speak up, everyone listened, and almost always agreed with
It was Global who composed statements to the media and letters to the
which were usually hand-written in a neat old-fashioned script.
The language was elegant, sometimes stilted, but always revealing an
In yesterday’s TV footage, Global was almost unrecognizable as he stood
behind the row of ranking militar officers.
He was handcuffed, bareheaded and wearing a striped polo shirt.
As strange as the handcuffs was the attire, Global’s usual garb being
Arabian juba, a long-sleeved shirt and an Afghan rebel’s cap. Only the
sparse goatee remained.
One wondered why he did not become a police officer instead, given his
qualifications. Or maybe a local political leader, so he could help
about the social reforms he envisioned.
If such questions about Global and other potential Muslim leaders can
answered, then perhaps we can begin to find answers to why the Abu
came to be, and why it continues to exist.
police fight over Abu bounty, credit: report
THE MILITARY and the police are reportedly fighting over an P8 million
cash reward following Sunday’s arrest of an Abu Sayyaf leader and his
A radio report also quoted police officials as accusing the military of
“credit grabbing” after Armed Forces operatives allegedly tried to
the reward money, which consisted of P5 million for the arrest of
leader Nadjmi Sabdula alias Comander Global, and P1 million for each of
his fellow rebels.
Earlier, military spokesman Brig. Gen. Edilberto Adan from Manila
the arrest of Sabdula and his comrades in General Santos City. Later
quoted police officials in General Santos as saying that they were the
ones who raided the Abu Sayyaf safehouse in the southern port
The police reportedly claimed the cash reward should go to its four
who were responsible for the arrest.
But Philippine National Police chief chief Gen. Leandro Mendoza said
reward should go to the civilian informants, and not to any of
Mendoza, in a separate interview, said one of the bounty requirements
that the claimants should not be part of the government.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had offered a multi-million cash
to civilians who could provide information that would lead to the
of the Abu Sayyaf Group, who had kidnapped Filipino and American guests
and staff at a Palawan resort last May 27.
chasing Abu sacked amid complaints
ZAMBOANGA CITY -- The general heading military forces battling Abu
kidnappers in the south was replaced Saturday (July 7) amid growing
over the military's failure to rescue the hostages.
Brig. Gen. Romeo Dominguez would be reassigned to head Army forces in
province, military spokesperson Maj. Alberto Gepilano said.
His successor, Brig. Gen. Glicerio Sua, would take over as head of the
First Infantry Division in charge of military forces in western
Sua’s area of jurisdiction covers the southernmost island groups of
and Sulu, two haunts of the Abu Sayyaf, the self-styled Islamic
holding 19 Filipinos and two Americans hostage in Basilan.
Last week, Sua replaced Dominguez as head of “Task Force Comet,” a
group hunting the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan.
Gepilano remarked that Sua’s assumption to the post would be a morale
for the troops.
Sua previously headed a military operation that overran an Abu Sayyaf
last year during a similar hostage crisis involving schoolchildren and
The Armed Forces’ reputation has taken a beating since the Abu Sayyaf
Basilan seized 17 Filipinos and three Americans from the Dos Palmas
in Palawan on May 27.
They repeatedly eluded military pursuit and have killed four Filipino
and claim to have beheaded one of the Americans, Guillermo Sobero.
Although the Abu Sayyaf has released some of their hostages, reportedly
in exchange for large ransom payments, they also seized more captives
now hold 21 hostages, including American missionary couple Martin and
About 5,000 troops are combing the forested, hilly terrain of Basilan
the kidnappers but have had little success.
Although President Macapagal-Arroyo has defended the military’s
she has not let her loyalty cloud her ambitions to crush the group. A
whose forces missed a crucial opportunity to surround the group on June
2 was subsequently replaced.
In the main Sulu island of Jolo, another haunt of the Abu Sayyaf,
captured three suspected Abu Sayyaf members and seized five rifles and
a cache of ammunition on Friday, the military said.
The three were arrested after a tip from local residents.
-- Message received: "P5M 4 1 hostge.drp $ 2nyt @ hotl loby--ASG."
Just like the supporters of Edsa II, the Abu Sayyaf bandits have gone
They have found lucrative use of cellular phones and the Internet.
By simply punching a keypad, Abu Sayyaf emissaries could easily bid the
price tag of each hostage, with the use of text messaging and
Emissaries of the Abu Sayyaf bandits in Basilan no longer need to set
rendezvous, or personally meet with the go-betweens of the relatives of
hostages being held in the hinterlands of Basilan as they utilize other
means of doing their clandestine negotiations, according to Southern
spokesperson Col. Danilo Servando.
"They’re hi-tech. This is how contacts are made between supposed
Even the transfer of money could be done the electronic way.
But with this statement, isn’t Servando acknowledging that ransom had
been paid by the released hostages?
He reminded the "go-betweeners’’ that the government is strict about
"no-ransom’’ policy. But it would appear that if the hostages are
released, the military wouldn’t really mind.
Aside from utilizing satellite telephones to contact relatives and
the Abu Sayyaf also text the panicky relatives of their victims in
who may be moving heaven and hell to meet the bandits’ demand.
"We have received reports that they use cell phones, text messaging for
contact," Servando said.
The emissaries are determined to strike a deal that they chat with and
e-mail their counterparts even at local Internet cafés, said
However, just like in the movies, there are secret meetings of
and negotiators to clinch deals at darkened corners of local hotel
here. This is where ransom money had been known to change hands.
Sources said that negotiations for the release of hostages Kimberly Jao
and Francis Ganzon were closed in one of the hotels in this city. Radio
reports also said that the two hostages were handed over to a
aide in one of the local hotels, after being escorted to Zamboanga by
"We have received some raw reports,’’ Task Force Zamboanga chief Col.
Yano earlier admitted. So, he ordered troops deployed near hotels and
on photos to view larger size
6/27/2001 6:04:44 AM
It gives me such a heavy heart to hear about the troubles in Basilan.
when they killed the 2 workers from the plantation.
I am also an Alano and even if I am all the way here in the US, I am
touched at the attack on Golden Harvest. I was wondering if you had
information on the families of the two men who were murdered. I would
to send them a letter and some help.
As for the ASG. Enough said!
if the Moslems can not live in peace with the rest of the country give
them Jolo and tell every Moslem in the Philippines to go to Jolo and
Unfortunately I also have Moslem friends, but something has to be done.
And their sacrifice of relocating to Jolo will prove themselves.
I would do the same thing if I was them.
Then after they have all gone to Jolo, I am sure that there will be
by Filipinos in that island, then they will get a taste of their own
I dont think this problem is ever going to go away. And it should
be stopped before it gets any bigger. Look what happened to
If they totally had relocated the Palestinians to another land, they
not have the problems they are having now. Look at Afghanistan
Point is, it is a sad knowledge that Moslems can not mix themselves
NOTE: In February 1981, at the age of 10, Majo was kidnapped at
Murga family beach house in Zamboanga City by Muslim bandits from
here to read his personal account of that ordeal.
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