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Foreign Affairs

America’s good friends in the Philippines

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America Philippines

We will begin with a retrospective of the nation on the Pacific Rim which has played a vital role in the development of the United States on the world scene since the end of the 19th century. Then we will turn to issues that impact us in the present day and foreseeable future.

Three decades after Christopher Columbus added the Western Hemisphere to the known world for the citizens of Europe, Ferdinand Magellan set out also at the behest of the Spanish crown to attempt to circumnavigate the globe from east to west. After transiting the South Atlantic, rounding the Tierra del Fuego and then transiting the South Pacific, Magellan’s attempt came to a tragic end when he was killed by tribal Chieftain Lapu Lapu at Mactan Island in a tropical archipelago in Southeast Asia. After Magellan’s crew completed the voyage across the Indian Ocean, around the southern tip of Africa and back to Spain, these islands would be claimed in the name of Spanish King Philip and go into future world atlases as The Philippines.

Spain remained in the Philippines for 377 years from 1521 until this colony half a world away was wrested from their grasp in the Spanish-American War of 1898. During the nearly four centuries of Spanish occupation, Spanish language, culture and especially Catholicism were all planted throughout the Philippines — except the far southwestern corner in the region of west-central Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago which stretches toward the island of Borneo.

Middle Eastern traders had reached this eastern extreme of Asia and installed Islam centuries before Magellan’s followers brought Christianity to the rest of the country. That dichotomy of an Islamic enclave in a Christian nation still exists today.

The Philippines has been a vital part of the United States’ development as a world power for over 120 years. After an unsuccessful war for independence, Filipinos and their beloved homeland became America’s only colony in Asia for more than 40 years.

In the early 20th century, General John “Black Jack” Pershing attempted to complete the conquest of the Philippines by subduing the Muslims. This effort was never fully successful. “The Swish of the Kris” is a 1936 book and a screenplay not long thereafter starring iconic actor Gary Cooper which documents this volatile period when the USA confronted Islam abroad.

When Pearl Harbor in the U.S. Territory of Hawaii was bombed by the Empire of Japan on December 7th, 1941, Japanese Zeroes simultaneous flew bombing missions on American military bases in the Philippines. Japan invaded and drove the U.S. forces out of the Philippines, with the tragic Bataan Death March being one of the most memorable Japanese victories of that campaign.

American General Douglas MacArthur, who had been born in the Philippines when his father was Governor, issued the famous declaration “I Shall Return” as he departed for the sanctuary of Brisbane, Australia, until his triumphant liberation in 1944 at a landing on the central Philippines Visayan Island of Leyte and the 1945 landing at Lingayen Gulf in the northwest side of the main northern island of Luzon.

After the defeat and expulsion of the Japanese occupiers in World War II, the Philippines was soon thereafter granted full independence and has remained the staunchest of American allies and one of the sources of many immigrants to the United States from a non-contiguous country. The USA maintained Clark Air Base in the province of Pampanga and Subic Bay Naval Base on the South China Sea near the Bataan Peninsula until the Mt. Pinatubo Volcano awoke from six centuries of dormancy to cover all of Clark and much of the provinces of Pampanga and Tarlac with volcanic ash known as lahar.

Within the nearly three decades since Clark and Subic were closed in 1991, the Philippines has played a prominent part in several Islamic terrorist plots with a significant nexus to the United States.

In the early to mid-1990s Islamic terrorists Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramsi Yousef are documented to have set up shop in the Philippines. Terry Nichols, co-conspirator of Timothy McVeigh in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on 04/19/1995, traveled to the Philippines at least twice in those years and is alleged to have learned the art of bomb-making from the architects of 9/11. Nichols’ wife was Filipina and had family connections in the country as well.

The Islamic operatives were in Manila to prepare for the bombing of 11 jumbo jets over the Pacific Basin in 1995, at least one of which was to have been bound for Honolulu, others to the west coast of the Mainland USA. Test explosions were conducted in a theater and on a Philippine Airlines plane on a route within Asia. Liquid explosives were to be smuggled aboard with nitro-glycerin contained in contact lens solutions.

As part of this grand terrorist plot, an attempt was to be made to assassinate Pope John Paul II during his visit to Manila in January 1995. Whether successful or not, this was designed to divert world attention away from the planned bombing of the jumbo jets soon thereafter. Just as the deadly but ultimately unsuccessful 1993 attempt to take down the World Trade Center in New York was successfully carried out in 2001, Islamic terrorists have demonstrated their intent to attack previous targets until their complete objective is accomplished.

Within the Philippines, a wide array of Islamic groups exist with varying degrees of animosity towards the Philippine government and the Christian faith of the majority of the country’s citizens — Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and others. Support is known to have come through the maritime “back door” from the tri-border region with nearby Malaysia and Indonesia, particularly the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

A few years ago, an Islamic madrassa was found in the province of Pangasinan. Mosques have apparently been established in San Fernando, Pampanga and other nearby areas. Within Metro-Manila, particularly the suburb of Taguig City, an epidemic of Muslim crime has taken place, some of it Muslim upon Muslim and otherwise Muslim upon Christian.

Muslims hired as hitmen and shabu dealers have been reported in open sources. There was even a case of the Muslim imam in Pangasinan being involved in shabu trafficking. Shabu is crystal methamphetamine, known in Hawaii and much of the USA as “ice”. Narco-terrorism needs to be considered, but the source of the drugs and destination of the drug money has not been confirmed. Often the Muslims in the Philippines appear to be cooperating with the manufacturers and suppliers in China.

Among the most troubling Islamic elements in the Philippines are the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the Rajah Solaiman Revolutionary Movement (RSRM). ASG is believed to number only in the hundreds and has not demonstrated a passion for imposing Islamic ideology on non-Muslims though they have pledged support publicly for ISIS. ASG rather operates more like bandits kidnapping foreigners and prominent Filipinos and demanding ransom. Some of their hostages have lost their lives whereas others have been released upon payment of a hefty sum by their families and/or home country governments.

RSRM has emerged and reemerged over the last 15 years The group’s name is derived from a pre-Magellan Islamic ruler and is indicative of a mind-set that explains why Christians who become Muslims (which is the very nature of the group) are said to have reverted, rather than converted, to Islam. Those who have left Catholicism or other Christian denominations often act and react in such a way as to demonstrate their allegiance to Islam by targeting Christians and governments led by Christians for death and destruction.

In 2004, Super Ferry 14 was bombed after departure from Manila by an RSRM member working in conjunction with ASG. Over 100 innocent people lost their lives. Then a bombing was conducted in Manila on Valentine’s Day (a symbol hated by Muslims) in 2005.

RSRM was designated a terrorist organization by the United States government in 2008. From that time, there was less open source publicity until reemergence in 2014, when open sources indicated that RSRM was believed to be gathering on the Bataan Peninsula just across Manila Bay from the nation’s capital as other open sources simultaneously reported that operatives of the Islamic State had traveled from Syria to Bataan to prepare for a major terrorist operation. ISIS also threatened the life of Pope Francis. The Pontiff was in Manila and elsewhere in the Philippines in January 2015 but an attack was prevented.

Pope John Paul II visited Manila in January 1995. Only a fire at a bomb laboratory in an apartment building in Manila gave away the plot to assassinate him and shortly thereafter to blow up jumbo jets across the Pacific. These were not designed as suicide bombings, it should be noted, but to smuggle the explosives onboard the aircraft on a previous leg of the flight, then disembark before the plane was taken down in mid-air or upon landing.

As ISIS loses control of its territory in Syria and Iraq, its goal of a Caliphate will be redirected into dispersing jihadis into other vulnerable and volatile regions. This may include Afghanistan, Kashmir and the Philippines. A country under nominal Christian rule is a very lucrative target to be subjugated to Islam.

In May 2017, ISIS was instrumental in the siege of the Islamic City of Marawi on Mindanao, during which many atrocities were committed, including the desecration of Christian churches. We will save more about that for a future discussion.

The Philippines and the United States have a very special and unique long-term relationship. Since 1898, the influence of Spain has been counterbalanced by the nexus with America.

After decades as a U.S. colony followed by the Japanese Occupation during World War II and then independence in 1946, the majority of Filipinos have a positive view of the USA. We have not discussed here other significant problems such as the continuing communist insurgency throughout the archipelago. Rather we have focused here upon the mutual defense of liberty by the Republic of the Philippines and our own country against Islamic terrorism.

One article can never say everything that needs to be said about the very special relationship between Filipinos and Americans. Current President Rodrigo Duterte who is from Davao on the island of Mindanao has had a very different experience from previous Philippine presidents. Many Philippine leaders, both civilian and military, have studied in the United States.

Pres. Duterte has indicated that members of his own family are Muslim and he has developed an adversarial relationship with the predominant Catholic Church in his nation. He has courted closer ties with both China and Russia. He has equivocated about the continuing role of the U.S. Military in the Philippines. We will not go into allegations of extra-judicial killings and persecution of journalists at this time.

This has been a review of Philippine-U.S. relations over the last 121 years as a resource in its own right. But we have also laid the foundation for a future, deeper look at what our bilateral future may portend.

I was in the U.S. Air Force stationed in the Philippines when former President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972 and in Hawaii when he and his family fled here in 1986. So, we will soon apply these lessons from the past to a fuller and empathetic examination of a now sovereign nation in Southeast Asia that will ever remain near and dear to my own heart.

The first part of this article was an update of a perspective which I composed back in December 2014. Since then, the election of Rodrigo Duterte as Philippine President has led to a testing of our two nations’ long-term affinity for one another. But we shall all benefit from the mutual respect inherent in reaffirming our relationship.

The majority of Filipinos who legally immigrate to the United States are loyal and patriotic citizens who contribute greatly to the quality of life here through their presence. For this, we owe them an everlasting debt of gratitude.

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Culture and Religion

NZ Hate Preachers

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NZ Hate Preachers

Having worked with Kiwis for many, many years, and having followed events in En Zed for the last three decades, I was just as shocked and horrified as anyone about the horrific massacre of Muslims at Friday prayers at their mosques in Christchurch on March 15, 2019.

You can see my three contemporaneous articles here:

My immediate reaction was that this was an extreme anomaly. I had followed reports for years about New Zealanders traveling to the Middle East to participate in Islamic jihad. I was also aware that authorities had been concerned that terrorist groups were setting up shop and recruiting from within New Zealand.

At that time, I recollected a very detailed article from some years ago documenting this situation even as I watched Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern don the hijab, join the Islamic call to prayer and declare that her entire country stood in solidarity with the followers of Islam.

Since then the so-called Christchurch Call has been issued seeking world governments to impose censorship of anyone who speaks candidly and objectively about the threat of terrorism in the name of Islam. We here in the United States are fortunate that President Trump has seen through the thinly veiled imposition of censorship and refused to let our country be seduced.

You can read the entire article entitled “Preachers of Hate” by Ian Wishart. The online archive indicates a date of January 1, 1970, but the actual publication date was March 30, 2007. The article can also be read in the Australian Edition here.

After the Christchurch attack two months ago, the point I remembered most distinctly 12 years after first reading this article was that American Imam Siraj Wahhaj was one of the foreign Islamic Preachers of Hate who had visited New Zealand in years past and who had helped influence Muslims living in that South Pacific country.

His son of the same name has been tied to suspected terrorist training compounds in New Mexico and Alabama recently which were allegedly training potential school shooters. Whether the elder Imam Siraj Wahhaj is acknowledged as a mentor or not, his political philosophy most definitely represents that of new U.S. Congresswomen Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

Following is the excerpt from the NZ Investigate Magazine article of March 30, 2007. FIANZ is the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand.

SIRAJ WAHHAJ

Another Muslim scholar brought out to New Zealand in 2001 – just months before 9/11, was American convert Siraj Wahhaj, invited here by FIANZ. Wahhaj was once hailed as a “moderate” in the US, and became the first American Muslim to deliver the daily prayer in the US Congress, in 1991, as a recognition of his “moderate” views. But like Bilal Philips before him, Siraj Wahhaj was leading a double life: teacher’s pet moderate Muslim on the outside for the benefit of politicians and the media, die-hard radical extremist on the inside. Wikipedia records that Wahhaj was named by the US Department of Justice as another of several “unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators in the attempt to blow up New York City monuments” including the World Trade Centre in 1993.

As Salon magazine reported on September 26, 2001, Wahhaj had a close relationship with an Islamic terrorist, the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdul Rahman, inviting him to speak at Wahhaj’s Brooklyn mosque and even testifying as a character witness for Rahman in court.

Wahhaj, who like Philips slipped into New Zealand without opposition by the SIS, police or border security, is also quoted in Salon as calling the original Gulf War 1 – against Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait – “one of the most diabolical plots ever in the annals of history”, and “part of a larger plan, to destroy the greatest challenge to the Western world, and that’s Islam.”

Comparing the fall of Soviet Russia to the current crisis in the West, Wahhaj warned America too will be crushed unless it “accepts the Islamic agenda”.

Journalist Daniel Pipes, in The Danger Within, details a 1992 address Wahhaj gave to an audience of New Jersey Muslims.

“If only Muslims were more clever politically, he told his New Jersey listeners, they could take over the United States and replace its constitutional government with a caliphate. ‘If we were united and strong, we’d elect our own Emir [leader] and give allegiance to him…Take my word, if 6-8 million Muslims unite in America, the country will come to us’.”

So that was Siraj Wahhaj’s agenda just a year after reading the opening prayer in the same US parliament he was hoping to overthrow, and he is welcomed as an esteemed speaker by moderate Muslims in New Zealand.

The website MilitantIslamMonitor.org has compiled its own research on Wahhaj.

“There’s no such thing as a Muslim having a non-Muslim friend”

“Wahhaj extolled the joys of martyrdom in this Jihad website entry, ‘No one who dies and goes to Paradise is going to want to come back to this world, except a Martyr, a person who gave their life for Islam, for Allah, they will want to come back to the earth and die ten more times in the way of Allah, because of the great gifts Allah has given them in Paradise’

“Wahhaj often writes and speaks on the subject of martyrdom in Islam. Some of his works are entitled: ‘Are you ready to die?’ ‘The blessing of Death’ ‘The easy way to Paradise – how to get there’.

“In addition to martyrdom Wahhaj is a proponent of polygamy and has produced many tapes on the subject.”

While the latter topic might fit Labour Party policy in New Zealand, it is doubtful Wahhaj’s commitment to military jihad would.

For his part, Wahhaj has told American media they’ve misunderstood him, that “Islam is a religion of peace”, and that he really is a moderate.

We here at NOQ Report highly recommend that authorities both in the United States and in New Zealand revisit these allegations that were documented a dozen years ago. Right now our friends in Aotearoa are understandably still in shock.

But we need to prevent anyone, particularly Wellington and other national capitals, from taking what happened in Christchurch out of context. It is also our urgent mission to ensure that warnings of a potential counterattack by a geographically-dispersed ISIS or other Islamic terrorist group in retribution are not censored.

To PM Ardern, I would say, take a deep breath and step back from the erroneous presumptions you have made in the aftermath of Christchurch. The seeds of discontent have already been sewn and the roots of an Islamic Insurgency already exist in your country’s soil.

Call in your intelligence community and consult with your counterparts in the United States and other allied countries. Back off from the Christchurch Call and all attempts to impose censorship.

If you were paying attention to what happened in Sri Lanka, if you are watching what is happening in Nigeria, if you focus your gaze beyond your own island nation, you will realize that Muslims are not always victims as they were at Christchurch.

Don’t let one horrific and unforgivable atrocity distort your view of reality and warp your perspective on what you must do in the future to keep Kiwis of every religion and ethnicity safe from harm.

I would enjoin our American government to move beyond some of our own political squabbles and consider how those who pose a threat to our own domestic security may also have their tentacles around our good friends in New Zealand and other close allies.

Agencies investigating the terror compounds in New Mexico and Alabama might want to put somebody on a plane or at least have a video conference with your counterparts in New Zealand. What were Siraj Wahhaj and other Islamic Preachers of Hate doing and with whom were they doing it as documented in the article from 2007?

We at NOQ Report will continue to do our utmost to put together pieces of the puzzle as they become available from open sources. Stay tuned for further developments.

SIRAJ WAHHAJ

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Foreign Affairs

Thanks to Trump, Americans still have free speech

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Thanks to Trump Americans still have free speech

In spite of what mainstream media says, Trump’s rejection of the “Christchurch Call” may spare Americans from the Orwellian censorship other Western countries have pledged their allegiance to

Using tragedies to push political agendas is nothing new.

While people are still reeling from some disaster, before they are thinking rationally again is the best time for the shrewd-minded to take advantage of the situation. These cunning individuals cite prevention of another catastrophe in order to pressure those soft hearts – yet to come down from the shock of recent horrific events – into taking rash, impulsive, immediate action.

This is exactly what happened on May 15, when several nations and big tech companies, such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon, and Microsoft, signed a pledge written up in response to the Christchurch mosque massacre which was live-streamed by the shooter on Facebook.

The “Christchurch Call To Action,” which can be read in its entirety here, outlined efforts to be taken in order “to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online,” including “strengthening the resilience and inclusiveness of our societies” and encouraging media to “apply ethical standards when depicting terrorist events online.”

Among the countries who signed the call were Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, the European Commission, Japan, Senegal, Jordan, India, and Indonesia.

But not America.

President Trump saw through the guise of humanitarianism that the Christchurch Call hid behind and refused to get on board.

In a statement regarding the president’s decision not to sign the Call, the White House claimed,

”We continue to be proactive in our efforts to counter terrorist content online while also continuing to respect freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Further, we maintain that the best tool to defeat terrorist speech is productive speech, and thus we emphasize the importance of promoting credible, alternative narratives as the primary means by which we can defeat terrorist messaging.”

Unsurprisingly, Trump has received a lot of backlash from mainstream media accusing him of being a “white supremacist bigot” contributing to “hate” for not signing the Call, but in reality, Trump was wise to stand against the crowd on this one.

The Christchurch Call is framed as a means for combating terrorism, but the vague terms sprinkled throughout the reactionary document like “inclusiveness” and “ethical standards” leave too much open to interpretation. Such loosely defined words make plenty of room for government censorship of any dissenting opinions on the Internet.

Other western countries are already sliding down the slippery slope towards an Orwellian future.

Just after the Christchurch shooting, New Zealand criminalized the video of the assailant’s livestream and his manifesto. Now, several citizens of New Zealand have been arrested and are facing up to 14 years of imprisonment just for sharing the video.

Some New Zealanders have also reported receiving visits from local police, who asked questions regarding their political views, such as if they liked Trump or not.

In Scotland, a man was fined £800 for making this video in the spirit of comedy:

Several U.K. citizens have been arrested, fined, or had the police visit them for criticizing Islam on social media.

While Americans like Alex Jones have questionably been banned from platforms like Facebook and Youtube, this is the worst it gets in the United States.

In America, government involvement in silencing online political dissidents through arrests and fines is unheard of. In declining to sign the Christchurch Call, Trump made a statement displaying his commitment to preserving his people’s right to voice their opinions, no matter how controversial.

While the Trump administration still stands, America will remain the land of freedom of speech.

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Democrats

Trump hits Biden on China connections

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Trump hits Biden on China connections

One thing has been made clear by recent events as they pertain to China: They are dying for someone to beat President Trump next November. In many ways, they’re banking on it.

This should make every American, including Democrats, concerned because even more than Russia, China has the capabilities to get in and change the hearts and minds of Americans, hack the 2020 election, and set in motion events that will benefit them. We’re talking about a country with nearly unlimited resources when it comes to cyberwarfare and social engineering. If Russia was ever a real concern to Washington DC, China is the true 800-lb gorilla in the political influence room.

The President called out former Vice President Joe Biden for his and his family’s involvement in China. Speaking to Steve Hilton on the Fox News show, The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton, the President pointed to alarming facts about the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.

The threat from China is far greater than that from Russia, both economically as well as geopolitically. They have been a stirring giant for years. For the 2020 election, their stirring may turn into game-changing action if we’re not watchful.

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