Next Stop Mindanao

In the second phase of the war on terrorism, U.S. soldiers join the hunt for Muslim rebels in the Philippines. But is this the most pressing threat?

Hunting terrorists on Basilan Island is a punishing game of hide-and-seek, as any Philippine soldier can tell you. The 5,000 Philippine troops on Basilan are looking for the last 80 or so heavily armed members of the Muslim rebel gang known as Abu Sayyaf (meaning "Bearer of the Sword"), who are on the run with three hostages in tow somewhere inside a 30-sq.-mi. patch. Stalking the rebels in jungle so dense that no light shines through the canopy of foliage, along jagged ridges often shrouded in fog, is like fighting in a dark closet with sunglasses on. The enemy are masters...

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