The terror war goes on, often quietly, and the arrests of terrorists also goes on quietly. A lot of these stories get little or no publicity, and so the public impression in the US is that nothing is being done.

But actually a lot of small news stories suggest a lot of stuff is going on, and some of it is being picked up by the much maligned “snooping” into the emails of US citizens.
It’s not popular among libertarians to say this, but I’m damn glad someone was snooping into the private mail, email, and bank transfers of a Malaysian born US Citizen to his terrorist brother in the Philippines.

The US Justice Department, Northern California District, released the 16 count indictment, dated August 2, against Zulkifli Abdhir, aka Zulkifli bin Hir, 41, who is in the Philippines, and his brother Rahmat Abdhir, aka Sean Kasem, 43, a US citizen living in San Jose, California.

According to a Justice Department statement, over 12 months to June 2007, Rahmat Abdhir shipped money, two-way radios, pistol bullet clips, binoculars, camouflage clothing and other items to Zulkifli at the latter’s request, to be used in fighting Philippine troops….

A lot of terrorism is paid for by drug money, money from crime (theft, blackmail and kidnappings such as the Italian priest last month) or laundered via Islamic charities, much of it from Saudi Arabia or other middle eastern countries. 

However, this case shows how money via extended families and kinship networks can also end up funding terrorists organizations.

The NYTimes story gives few details, but the story in the San Jose Mercury News is more chilling:

They are two of 11 siblings of Malaysian descent, according to court documents. And they did mostly of their talking across the distance by coded e-mail using Malaysian language. They called guns “iron” and government agents were called “dogs.” Bombs were called “prizes” or “presents.”

And the younger Abdhir’s group was allegedly setting them off in 2006 all around the Southern Philippines, with deadly results.

Meanwhile, “Sean” in San Jose was creating an electronic clip file of news stories from the United States, news stories that told of troop movements and U.S. spy planes. He was sending these by e-mail to his brother, the indictment alleges.

Soon his brother wanted more than news.

“If I had extra money, I would buy more `iron’ . . . because the occupants in the house in front of mine do not have any,’ ” he allegedly e-mailed his stateside brother in 2006.

Later that year, after more e-mails talking about the need for weapons, the San Jose Abdhir wire transfered $5,500 from a Bank of America account to a Malaysian bank account that used their mother’s name, according to the indictment.

He later allegedly sent 30 two-way radios.

In October, Zulkifli Abdhir sent an e-mail saying he needed money for a friend who needed “iron” (guns) for protection from “dogs” (government agents.) His friend, the e-mail said, had “given away prizes” and was planning on giving away others, the indictment said.

He suggested his brother check out the news.

The next day powerful bombs exploded at a celebration in the Philippines, killing five and injuring 29.

So, maybe I’m a bit cynical, but I have relatives in Mindanao, and am damn glad someone was snooping around their emails.

The life that was saved might have been me or mine.


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



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