There is a lot of spin by the MILF/ ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group, an AlQaeda trained group with many fugitives from Indonesia) about the ambush and beheading of Philippine marines. Latest version HERE.
Every day they spin a different story, but if you look very carefully toward the end of the stories, you find an interesting fact: that a camera team was with the Marines, and took photos of the ambush. The footage shows that they were not attacking anyone, but on the way home when attacked.
This, and the fact that intelligence has details from intercepting radio and telephone communication among the MILF are underplayed in stories, for obvious reasons.

The story has horrified much of the nation, which is why the MILF keeps spinning different stories

. They didn’t do it. Well maybe they did but the Marines were in their territory, so it was self defense. The Marines attacked a camp (the only “attack” was the Marines took a rifle away from an MILF soldier who was threatening them). Much of this is absurd, since one or two dozen Marines could not have “attacked” a camp of hundreds of MILF supporters.

The latest story is that the bodies were intact when given to the government, implying that the evil government mutilated the bodies not the saintly MILF.

The dirty little secret is that the ASG has a history of beheading. The last beheading was a couple weeks ago, of seven innocent road workers who were kidnapped for ransom, and killed/beheaded 48 hours later when the ransom was not immediately paid.

That is what many fear will happen to the popular Father Bossi, who was kidnapped by the ASG with the help of some rogue MILF members. Why Father Bossi ? Because the Italians are know to pay ransom, and a lot more ransom than you would get than if you merely kidnapped a Chinoy (Chinese Philippine) businessman.

But instead of playing along with the Italians, the government sent Marines in to look for Father Bossi, and expected cooperation. After all, this is a crime, and there is a truce in place. If the Marines had expected a fight, they would have come with air support and many more troops.
Intelligence reports had traced the ASG renting a boat to go to Basilan Island, and there were reports that a Westerner resembling Father Bossi was seen in that area. That the search went wrong is bad for locals caught in the middle, and threatens government strategy of rewarding the MILF areas that cooperate and trying to isolate the few ideologues who don’t really care about local people, but only want to win.
That is why the MILF spokesmen keep changing stories to try to justify their actions: they know their own people did a terrible thing, and are worried that war will break open again. But their attitude also suggests they know who did the murders, and know that the government knows who did the murders, but do not want to hand them over.

So the story keeps changing.

First they say no one in the MILF did the murders, or else they killed the marines but can’t figure out who beheaded the Marines, or else they were killed by the MILF defending themselves, or else it was in retaliation for the Marines beheading an imman, and they want “Human Rights Bodies” to “investigate” the innocent imman’s murder.

Confused? Take your pick. Tomorrow the story will change again.
The “dead imman” story keeps changing too.

The first report is that the Marines killed him and beheaded him in cold blood at the mosque, sending fighters to revenge his death. Other reports say that the marines  had his body with them, which of course means that he was already beheaded when the MILF was attacked, since his body was found at the scene.

Right. It’s 90 degrees out. Who is going to carry a dead body in their jeep for a couple hours….
Then there is this story: As GMA reports:

The MILF said Alkanul was forcibly taken by Marines from his house in Ginanta town in the early morning of July 10 to lead them to a nearby MILF base…

This suggests that the ASG killed him during the firefight, either accidentally or as a traitor, and then mutilated his body in revenge.

In fact, one of the earliest stories didn’t even mention the iman. In yesterday’s print edition of the Manila Bulletin, a Muslim the spokesman said the Marines deserved it for “killing pigs in mosques” and using the Koran for toilet paper.

Ah yes, the “KORAN TOILET PAPER” story has been revived.

The problem is that (except among the Manila elite), Pinoys use water, not paper, to clean themselves, so presumably that story was to excite Europeanized jihadis who don’t know such intimate cultural details.

All this is spin, of course.

The dirty little secret is that the public is upset. President Arroyo, whose “Team Unity” lost a lot of congressional seats in the last election, is aware of this.

So although the elites in Manila (who are mainly of the left) and the European Union (who love the idea of “Peace in Our Time”) we expect the public opinion to make a clash inevitable.

And what will happen to the tape of the massacre? Well, this is the Philippines, after all.

The Basilan Massacre, coming soon to YouTube…

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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