Like all Americans, I am happy that the terrorist leader Osama Ben Laden has been killed.

Yes, as a Catholic Christian I pray for his soul, but unlike Time Magazine, I believe in hell, especially since there is no evidence that he repented his murders of the innocent on three continents.

Yet shortly after the announcement, my husband cautioned me not to go out alone, for fear of retaliation.

We live in the Philippines, and murder for political reasons is not unknown, but the fear of the market being bombed or a church gathering being targeted by Al Qaeda linked terrorists like the Abu Sayyaf is common.

Security is tighter here in the Philippines than in the US: for years, we have been frisked and our bags checked when we shop at the local mall. Armed guards stand outside of most banks, and when there is a fiesta, often we have police or AFP soldiers patrolling the streets. True, most of the murders here are personal, political, drug related, or NPA (communists), but these are usually targeted killings, and only rarely do bystanders get killed. (although our nephew was killed as a bystander in one political hit job a couple years ago).

The big worry is that someone will again smuggle a bomb into a plane. a mall, or into a ferry and cause mass casualties.

Knowing that three Filipino “drug mules” were recently executed in China points out that the Philippines is a major drug smuggling hub, some of it through our airports, and if scores of heroin carrying drug mules can get through security, one has to face the possibility that a bomb carrying terrorist could do so.

Most of the terror incidents have been in the south, but some, including the bombing of a ferry a couple years back, or the bombing of a bus that killed some passengers more recently, were done by terrorists angry that these companies wouldn’t pay bribes to stay safe.

Follow the money…

Kidnapping is a favorite money making tactic: they might target Americans for political headlines, but they prefer to kidnap Europeans for money, and the kidnapping of local business people is usually for money too. After the third Italian priest was kidnapped in the South, one local wag joked that the Abus must like Pizza, but the real story is that the Italians pay ransom. Yes, the Italians deny they paid any ransom, even after the “go betweens” are caught with their share of the ransom money hidden in their kitchen.

For Americans, however, the story might be more serious. The well known kidnapping of the Burnhams point this out. Many Christians know the story of their kidnapping and that Pastor Burnham was killed during the rescue; fewer know that the women were sexually assaulted or that one American of Filipino birth was beheaded by the group.

Wikipedia has a summary here of Abu attacks.

Since then, the group has been gradually hunted down and either killed or captured, with huge rewards given to those who gave tips leading to their captured.

The presence of US special forces types is not given a lot of publicity here, but there is a lot going on, not only in intelligence gathering but in helping with road building and “development” projects. Once in awhile, the left gets upset about them, but usually they are the invisible person in the news.

Most of the attacks are on “soft targets”, and despite a hundred thousand Americans living here, few have been kidnapped or harmed.

But the bad news is that one does expect a bunch of innocent Shiites or Christians to be killed when these idiots following Ben Laden decide to find revenge, and figure that bombing some local infidels at prayer is easier than trying to kill an American who might just shoot back.

The dirty little secret is that it is just not cost effective to hit Americans. Not only do they refuse to let you pay ransom, but even if you kill them, they will offer a reward for your head and keep at it until you are dead.

So our congratulations goes to Seal Team Six for the good work, and thank you to the American President for going against his pacifist background. He has been a quick learner when confronted with the threat reports against Americans in the US and abroad.

Maybe now some of his base will also confront reality and realize that some of what GWB did was not because he was a cowboy, but because there are really bad guys out there who want to kill us.

Finally, anyone who reads Wikileaks is aware that some in Pakistan’s ISI was involved in hiding Ben Laden.  But again, follow the money: not all of this help was from ideology: blackmail of those who helped you in the past, as well as making money diverting supplies, is part of the problem. And even in the good old USA, getting people to help you disappear is not unknown.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs at Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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