All-out war vs Abu Sayyaf
The beheading of 71-year-old German hostage Juergen Kantner by the Abu Sayyaf should compel the government to declare, “Enough is enough!” (Editor’s note: The military has yet to confirm the information at press time).
The government has yet to fully retaliate to the group’s kidnapping of locals and foreigners and the beheading of their captives when ransom demands are not met.
All the military operations against the Moro bandits were unsuccessful because they hid in communities which coddled them.
There is only one way for the government to completely neutralize Abu Sayyaf: Declare an all-out war against the bandit group and its protector, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
Let us not kid ourselves: The Abu Sayyaf can’t exist without the protection of the MNLF.
Like the war in Mindanao in the 1970s, the government will prevail against the Abu Sayyaf and its protectors in Sulu and Basilan.
The memory of the war in Mindanao is still fresh among the Tausog, Maranaw and Maguindanaoan.
In the 1970s, there were instances in which soldiers swooped down on Muslim villages where MNLF rebels took refuge and killed every able-bodied man in retaliation for the death of their comrades.
An island village in Sulu where a company of soldiers was wiped out was bombarded by artillery and strafed by fighter planes, resulting in many casualties.
In the Cotabato provinces, a militia group called Ilaga prevented the MNLF from overrunning the provinces by killing every Muslim male in sight in retaliation for the killing of Christian civilians.
During the Mindanao war, Muslim rebels also killed innocent Christians.
Both sides committed atrocities.
At the time, government soldiers were outgunned by the Moro rebels.
In the early months of the war in Mindanao, Muslim rebels had Belgian FAL automatic rifles and G-4 German-made submachine guns against the government soldiers’ World War II vintage Garand and Carbines; only few soldiers carried M-16 and M-14 rifles.
But what the soldiers lack in firepower, they made up for in numbers; government troops outnumbered the rebels 10 to 1.
Leaders of Muslim villages or towns where the Abu Sayyaf bandits hide their hostages should be warned against protecting them.
If they heed the call, the bandit group will soon lose its mass base.
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