US - Southeast Asia
Chronology from Jan 2002 to Mar 2002
: Senators Daniel Inouye and Ted Stevens are given permission by the Philippines to observe “Balikatan 2002” as a prelude for more U.S antiterrorist and legislation for the Philippines.
: FBI Director Robert Mueller in the Philippines states that he believes al-Qaeda operatives are active in several Southeast Asian countries.
: U.S. Army Special Forces speed into a Basilan combat zone to rescue wounded Philippine soldiers after a clash with the Abu Sayyaf.
: U.S. pilots train Philippine counterparts in the use of Huey helicopters with night-flying capability. Initially earmarked for Basilan, there may be another target – Jolo, bastion of the MILF.
: The U.S. sends a special prosecutor to Southeast Asia to facilitate the extradition of terrorists apprehended in the region.
: Vietnam and the U.S. agree to conduct joint research on the effects of Agent Orange – the defoliant used by the U.S. during the Vietnam War which may have had long-term adverse health effects.
: Adm. Blair before a House subcommittee warns that U.S. involvement in the Philippines could become a Vietnam War-like “slippery slope” if the conflict broadens beyond its original mission.
: Adm. Blair tells U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacker that Taiwan’s offer of five F-5s to the Philippines would benefit its air force.
: U.S. Navy Secretary Gordon England praises Singapore for contributing to the security and stability of Southeast Asia.
: Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra reacts strongly to U.S. State Department criticism of Thailand’s decision to expel a Far Eastern Economic Review correspondent for an article discussing tension between the prime minister and the king.
: A U.S. Army Special Forces helicopter crashes into the sea in the Philippines while on a routine flight during “Balikatan 2002,” killing all passengers.
: Adm. Blair emphasizes the importance of Asian regional cooperation in the war on terrorism at a Pacific defense symposium in Washington, D.C.
: The U.S. begins intelligence-gathering flights over the southern Philippines in the hunt for the Abu Sayyaf as part of the “Balikatan 2002” joint exercise.
: Malaysian government says that Yazual Sufaat, a former Malaysian Army captain allegedly involved in the Sept. 11 bombings, will not be extradited to the U.S. but dealt with under Malaysian law.
: The U.S. and Philippines sign a Terms of Reference for their joint military exercise, which stipulates that U.S. forces would not become involved in conflicts with groups currently negotiating with the Philippine government [i.e., the MILF].
: The U.S. and Thailand announce a joint program to combat the smuggling of people for prostitution and illegal labor. The U.S. will provide training equipment and money.
: The U.S. expresses disappointment that the UN has decided to pull out from trial arrangements in Cambodia for surviving Khmer Rouge leaders. The Cambodian government refused to accept UN conditions for the tribunal that had largely been crafted by the U.S.
: Philippine President Macapagal-Arroyo lashes out at opponents of the joint Philippines-U.S. “Balikatan 2002” exercise in Basilan as “anti-Filipino and partners of terrorists.”
: CIA Director George Tenet in Congressional testimony says that al-Qaeda may be connected to terrorist groups in Indonesia and the Philippines.
: One thousand protestors demonstrate in front of the U.S. Embassy in Manila against the “Balikatan 2002” exercise in Mindanao.
: High-level Philippine officials express dismay at President Bush’s remarks that the Philippines was harboring international terrorists.
: An FBI report states that al-Qaeda operatives met in Malaysia during 2000 to plan the Sept. 11 attacks and that Malaysia has emerged as “one of the primary operational launch pads” for the attacks.
: Adm. Blair states that the U.S. goal in Asia is to ensure that the region becomes inhospitable for terrorists.
: U.S. Special Forces C-130 aircraft is fired upon while flying over Luzon in an area where the Communist New People’s Army has forces.
: The Philippine Catholic Bishops Conference expresses full support for U.S. assistance to crush the Abu Sayyaf.
: Indonesian FM Hasan Wirayuda announces that the U.S. has offered training for Indonesian police to combat international terrorism.
: Malaysia files an official protest to the U.S. Embassy assailing U.S. the “inhumane” treatment of Taliban and al-Qaeda detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
: The U.S. announces it is providing the Philippine military eight helicopters, a high-speed patrol boat, and 30,000 M-16 rifles for use against the Abu Sayyaf.
: Secretary of State Colin Powell justifies the U.S.-Philippine “Balikatan 2002” exercise as help from the United States to aid the Philippine effort to defeat terrorism.
: Philippine Vice President Teofisto Guingani, Jr. abandons his opposition to U.S. forces advising Philippine troops in Mindanao. Another opponent, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, also lifts his opposition.
: Singapore’s National Security Department releases a statement claiming that it had independently identified the Jemaah Islamiah terrorists in Singapore and did not rely on video tape in Afghanistan found by U.S. forces to locate the suspects.
: Philippine President Macapagal-Arroyo notes that she has asked the U.S. not to include the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mindanao on its list of terrorists because the government is negotiating with it.
: U.S. Senator Sam Brownback says that the Philippines would be the next Afghanistan while the Philippine president reiterates that foreign troops will not be involved in combat. The U.S. chargé in Manila also refutes Brownback’s statement.
: It is revealed that the Pentagon is resuming limited training of Indonesian forces in counterterrorism.
: Philippine presidential spokesman states that the U.S. could participate in the rescue of the American hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf and that they have the right to defend themselves if fired upon.
: U.S. and Indonesian intelligence officials believe that hundreds of foreigners who may be linked to al-Qaeda visited a secret training camp in Indonesia.
: Philippine Foreign Affairs Under Secretary Lauro Paja believes that U.S. forces will be sucked into the fighting against the Abu Sayyaf.
: The U.S. Embassy in Singapore releases a statement of confidence in the ability of the Singapore government to protect U.S. citizens and interests in the wake of the revelation that the 15 Muslims arrested were targeting U.S. military facilities and personnel.
: Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayudha states that Indonesia had been cracking down on terrorism long before Sept. 11 and had cross-border controls in place.
: USCINCPAC Adm. Dennis Blair states that multilateral cooperation is essential in the war on terrorism and will be a common cause for Asia.
: Philippine presidential spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao says that there can be no base for U.S. forces in the Philippines and that U.S. advisors will be under the command of Philippine officers.
: Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz says that U.S. armed forces are assisting friendly states such as the Philippines and Indonesia to close down terrorist networks.
: Singapore announces the December arrest of 15 Muslim extremists, accusing them of planning to blow up military targets and embassies in the city-state and focusing on the U.S.; the 15 are said to be linked to al-Qaeda.
: Malaysia arrests 13 terrorists, but Defense Minister Najib denies that al-Qaeda cells exist in his country.
: Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo states that U.S. troops will not be used to fight against the Abu Sayyaf.