On the night of February 2nd, 2012, a bomb was dropped on a terrorist cell’s meeting in progress taking place in The Philippines southern Sulu Province. The resulting explosion killed three terrorist leaders as well as twelve other members of the infamous Al-Qeada associated Jemaah Islamiyah, or JI for short.

In addition to killing the terrorist leader Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, also among the dead were “the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf bandits, Umbra Jumdail alias Dr. Abu Pula, and a Singaporean leader in JI, Abdullah Ali, who used the guerrilla name Muawiyah,” according to the Sun Star report.

The official sources credit a Filipino Air Force OV-10 with dropping the bomb, accomplishing one of the biggest counter-terrorism operations the country has seen in years. But did the aging Vietnam-era plane truly drop a dumb bomb on a surgical target at 3am, or has the truth been obscured from the public?

Dubbed “Operation Nemesis”, the attack was, to the best of our knowledge, carried out by the 15th Strike Wing of the Filipino Air Force, although rumors persist of the use of American drones, such as the Predator UAV. The Filipino Air Force is known to only field dumb bombs and fly antiquated aircraft; this would be the first instance of them employing smart bombs, leaving many to speculate that the weapon was provided by a JSOC station in Zamboanga for the mission.

Others believe that the US had a far more direct role in this operation.

Locals have stated that the OV-10 pilots couldn’t hit a target in broad daylight in an open field, a lack of technical capacity they have demonstrated in Payao, Cotabato, and Zamboanga Sibugay during previous incursions.  The odds of a first time direct hit with a smart bomb provided by the American military seems slim to none. It should also be noted that the US Navy patrols the waters between the Philippines and Borneo regularly.

There are numerous airfields in the area that a Predator UAV could have been flown out of, but more interesting is how the smart bomb in question knew where to go. Who, or what guided it to its target? Could a Tier One JSOC element, or perhaps CIA para-militaries, be employing the same drone strike tactics in the Philippines that they have been in Pakistan, Somalia, and beyond?