Over the past 2 weeks you may have noticed that I have not participated on the site nearly as much as normal. I have tried to keep active, but something happened a couple of weeks ago that kept me from spending as much time on-site as I usually do, and has really monopolized my time a great deal.
During Holy Week, one morning I was checking my e-mail as I do every morning after I wake up. I usually have several dozen e-mails waiting for me (usually more than that, I guess), and this particular morning was no exception. When I got about halfway through the various e-mails, though, I got a shock! The next e-mail to read was a mail sent to me through my Contact Form on one of my other blogs. Somebody had gone to this other site of mine and entered an e-mail to me to be sent through the Contact Form. When I opened the e-mail, I instantly noticed that this was a threat that was sent to me.
The e-mailer identified himself as an Al Qaeda operative, and demanded extortion money. He told me that if he did not receive the money, he would “make history” in three days time at a local Mall/Department Store. My first reaction was to think that this was just a joke, some guy with extra time on his hands just playing around on the net. But, the letter seemed very serious, and not something to just laugh off. Feyma and I discussed it, and decided to contact the authorities. Within 30 minutes I actually had Philippine Military personnel at my house to check out what this was all about. After reading the e-mail, they immediately told me that this was not a joke, but a serious matter, and that this person had threatened other businesses and businessmen around town in recent weeks. Although they felt that he did not have the capability to carry out his threats, they also felt that he should not be taken lightly.
I was asked by the local PNP and Military if I would be willing to cooperate with them in an effort to catch the “terrorist” (as he called himself). I reflected on it, but decided to go ahead and help in whatever way I could. After some rather long hours, several more e-mails from the guy, and intense efforts on both my part as well as the authorities, thankfully, the perpetrator was apprehended last week.
While I don’t want to go into too much detail about the case, I will say that they guy is now in jail, and a case against him is pending. There are other things still going on behind the scenes too.
What I would like to say is this – both the Philippine National Police and the Military unit “Task Force Davao” did an excellent job in this case. They worked closely with me, answered all the questions that I had, made themselves available to me 24/7, and were thorough in their work. I was pleased to see how well they handled the situation. I really give a big thumbs-up to the efforts that the authorities made in this case.
I will also say that the threat that was made was not against me or my family. But, the fellow used my website as a conduit to get his message to other business people here in Davao City. Anytime something like this would happen it is only natural that the people involved (Feyma and I) would feel apprehensive about the safety of our family, especially the kids. However, honestly, I never really felt threatened myself. I am happy that I contacted the authorities, though, especially since they handled the situation so thoroughly and professionally.
It would seem that all is now quiet on the home front, and I am happy for that. I hope that the excitement of the past 2 weeks will not visit us again in the future! If it does, though, I am confident that the local authorities here in Davao can handle the situation.
UPDATE: Here is a link to a newspaper article about the incident. I will say that the article is not 100% accurate, but it does give the general plot of the events.