MANILA, Philippines - Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi was a key financier of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its military wing, the New People's Army (NPA), according to a US Secretary of State secret cable published by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
The Libyan government gave at least $7 million to the CPP-NPA in a 5-year period in the late 1980s and early 1990s, according to cable 91STATE374256 dated November 14, 1991.
The cable, one of the earliest on WikiLeaks' archives that discussed the Philippines, tackled the indictment of Libyan officials for the bombing of PAN AM Flight 103 in 1998.
The memo said Libya's support for terrorist groups was extensive worldwide, and allowed militants to train in Libyan camps.
The cable said Libya provided funding to the CPP-NPA and other groups by directly giving money to militants who trained in the North African country.
"On rare occasions the Libyans have used couriers to deliver money to terrorist organizations; the transfer usually occurs in a third country," it said.
"Trainees from Asia, Latin America, and Africa often go to Libya legally, usually pretending to be students. Sometimes, third world nationals travel to Libya for what they believe to be legitimate schooling, such as technical or religious training," it added. "When they arrive, however, they find themselves met at the airport by soldiers, placed on a truck, and transported to a terrorist/dissident training camp."
The Philippine government has also kept tabs on Gaddafi's support to the armed communist movement in the Philippines.
According to Police Superintendent Felipe Rojas of the Philippine Center on Transnational Crime, the CPP-NPA got considerable financial and logistical support from Libya for 2 decades as part of Gaddafi's program to establish revolutionary movements in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Support from Tripoli included provisions of modern weaponry (such as high-powered assault rifles, detonators, explosives RPGs and SAMs) as well as training in strategic urban terrorist tactics. Libya also established an organization called the 'Mathba' [Al Mathaba] to try and promote the image of the NPA," he said in a briefing paper.
According to GlobalSecurity.org, Libya used Al Mathaba, also known as the Anti-Imperialism Center (AIC), to support guerrilla groups in developing countries.
"Established in 1982 to support 'liberation and revolutionary groups,' the AIC has sponsored a number of stridently anti-Western conferences in Tripoli. At the same time, the AIC's mission is to identify and recruit revolutionaries for ideological and military training in Libya. During their training at AIC camps, individuals are selected for advanced training, including in weapons and explosives, and indoctrination. With representatives in many Libyan embassies worldwide, the AIC runs its own independent clandestine operations and disburses payments to terrorist, insurgent, and subversive groups," the website reveals.
Al Mathaba's website remains active today, even while the former dictator is fighting for his life against rebel forces who have now occupied most of Libya.
Meanwhile, Rojas said "the NPA also received support in the form of weapons and training from North Korea in return for providing information on the former US Clark Air and Subic Naval Bases, as well as on key American military figures."
Foreign fund sources dried up
Gaddafi's support for the NPA apparently dried up after the US declared the CPP-NPA as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) in 2002, and by the European Union in 2005.
"The rebels have claimed that the FTO designation has made it difficult to obtain foreign funding and forced them to step up extortion of businesses and politicians in the Philippines," according to the US State Department.
The communists have been trying to seize power from government since since 1969.
The Philippine military has claimed that the NPA's strength peaked at over 25,000 in the 1980s. Today, the military say that there are less than 5,000 guerrilla fighters scattered across the country.