CONTROVERSY may have hounded the career of retired police general Rodolfo “Boogie” Mendoza Jr., but his more than 30 years as a police intelligence officer has shone through in his retirement years and he is now credited as the father of counter-terrorism investigation in the country.
A member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1978, Mendoza was linked to several controversies and was once described as being obsessed in a supposed mission to destroy former national police chief and senator Panfilo Lacson.
But his vital role in the uncovering of the famous Bojinka plot of 1995 and the discovery of the Rajah Solaiman Islamic Movement has cemented his growing reputation as a counter-terrorism expert.
The Bojinka plot was a large-scale three-phase terror attack hatched by Ramzi Yousef, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abdul Hakim Murad in the early 1990s.
It involved a plot to assassinate Pope John Paul II, an air bombing of 11 airliners flying from Asia to the United States and a plan to crash a plane into the CIA headquarters in Virginia.
The plot was backed by Osama bin Laden and Hambali and was funded by Laden’s brother-in-law Mohammed Jamal Khalifa and Wali Khan Amin Shah, an Afghan who laundered the money through his girlfriend and other women in Manila.
Before the plot was discovered, Yousef detonated test bombs in a mall and theater, injuring scores of people, as well as Philippine Airlines Flight 434, killing one person and nearly causing enough damage to result in the destruction of the aircraft.
But Bojinka was accidentally discovered after a chemical fire drew police attention to the hotel where Ramzi Yousef was staying and their plans were found in their computers.
Yousef and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were able to escape, but Murad was captured and it was Mendoza who interrogated him which eventually led to Yousef’s arrest in Pakistan after 21 days.
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