We were directed to a story by a friend last night that put a real dent in our evening. It’s a story of Islamic terrorism playing out in the Philippines with two German tourists and an Islamic terrorist (oxymoron alert) group called Abu Sayyef. This story has a very personal twist for us, but first the story.
Islamists in the Philippines have threatened to kill two German hostages unless Germany pays a ransom and withdraws its support for the US fight against Isis in Syria and northern Iraq.
In a message circulated via Twitter, the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group announced it would kill one of the hostages unless its demands were met within 15 days, according to US company Site Intelligence Group, which tracks communications from radical Islamist groups.
The message calls on Germany to “stop supporting America in its killing of our Muslim brothers in Iraq and Syria, especially the mujahideen of the Islamic State”.
Here are the tourists.
Our heart go out to these folks because this did not have to happen.
Abu Sayyaf has been operating out of some of the remote islands of the Philippines for years. They’ve been a terrorist group since day one, they are Islamic after all. In 2002 they were raising all sorts of hell in the Philippines and the general region and then Philippine President Corazon Aquino asked the US military for help.
The US Marines, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit stationed in Okinawa, responded. This was not widely reported, but we know this to be true because our son was a team leader in a special operations group with the 31st MEU. He was stationed in Okinawa and most of the time it was pretty good duty. When he wasn’t on a training exercise it was sort of the Marine Corps equivalent of a 9-5 job and we could communicate pretty freely with him.
One night my phone rang at about 3am, I woke up and answered it before the first ring was finished. There was only one person who called me at that time of day, and there was only one reason he called.
“What’s up?” I said. “Won’t be hearing from me for a while,” he said. “What can you tell me,” I asked. We’d done this before. “Nothing. I’m painted and I’ve got to get to the ship right now, I’m at a pay phone on the dock. Love you, I’ll call when I get back.”
Later we learned he was headed for the Philippines, to a remote island in the southern part of the island chain, where Abu Sayyef was headquartered.
He was in what’s called a “boat company” and they’re the first guys in on a water assault.
They go in at night, establish the beachhead, recon and find the enemy, call in air support, and engage. They had a simple rule. Nobody who’s not wearing a Marine Corps uniform gets out alive. They were prepared to eliminate Abu Sayyef down to the last person who even knew what a gun looked like.
They were at sea, locked, loaded, and ready to go and then Philippine president Corazon Aquino talked to the Philippine press about the mission. I saw the story on Yahoo News the morning after the call and I knew our son was who she was talking about. I was more than a tad angry at that moment, I didn’t know where he was but I knew for sure the danger level for him and his Marines just increased a hundredfold.
Aquino’s remarks triggered a political firestorm in the Philippines. It’s a heavily Muslim population and of course the peaceful Muslims who were aghast that a group like Abu Sayyef would hijack their peaceful religion went on a rampage at the idea that US Marines would remove the threat.
The mission was aborted just as our son was about to launch his Zodiac.
Had Aquino kept her mouth shut, not only would those German tourists not be facing a gruesome death, the Philippines would have been spared a dozen years of terrorism at the hands of these butchers.
Our hearts go out to the German tourists and their family. This didn’t have to happen.
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