Former New Tribes Missionary Gracia Burnham, who was held hostage with her husband for more than a year by Muslim militants in the southern Philippines, has stirred the Philippine government and military with a few statements in her new book about her captivity.
"When the [captors] went out for [food and supplies], they'd pick up ammunition as well," writes Burnham in In the Presence of My Enemies, which was released this week by Tyndale. "You may wonder how such a group as the Abu Sayyaf seemed to be well supplied with weaponry. Were their al-Qaeda friends sending them supply boats in the middle of the night? No, no—nothing so exotic as that. The Abu Sayyaf told us [its] source was none other than the Philippine army itself. … I was amazed. The fact that such firepower could quite possibly wind up killing one's fellow soldiers seemed not to matter at all."
Burnham says that "more than once" she heard one of the Abu Sayyaf leaders call a woman named Ma'am Blanco in the nearby city of Zamboanga on a satellite phone, requesting specific kinds of weapons and ammunition.
"Who are you ordering from?" she finally asked him.
"Oh, the army," the Abu Sayyaf leader said. "We pay a lot more than it should cost, of course. So somebody's making a lot of money. But at least we get what we need."
Elsewhere in the book, Burnham wrote that the military wasn't just providing weaponry. In January 2002, she says, the food supply was plentiful for "a most unusual reason":
The Armed Forces were feeding us! A group of them met our guys and handed over quantities of rice, dried fish, coffee, and sugar. This happened several times over the course of a few weeks.
Why in the world did President Arroyo's troops provide the Abu Sayyaf with their daily bread? ...1
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