Saturday, February 19, 2005

Who Is Abu Sayyaf?

Interesting, and quite accurate, article from Wikipedia ( that sheds light on the horrors faced by average citizens held hostage to fear by Islamic extremists. Will it happen here? That's unlikely, at this time. But for many European countries such a nightmare scenario is possible, and soon.

Abu Sayyaf
The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), also known as Al Harakat Al Islamiyya, is a separatist group of islamist terrorists based in and around the southern islands of the Philippines, primarily Jolo, Basilan, and Mindanao.

Khadaffy Janjalani is named as the nominal leader of the group by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. It is reported that they recently began expanding into neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia. The group is responsible for bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, and extortion in order to promote an independent Islamic state in western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago and create an atmosphere conducive to the creation of a Pan-Islamic superstate in the Malay portions of South-east Asia. The name of the group is Arabic for Bearer (Abu) of the Sword (Sayyaf). The ASG is the one of the smallest and arguably the most radical and dangerous of the Islamic separatist groups in Mindanao. Some ASG members have studied or worked in Saudi Arabia and developed ties to muhajadeen while fighting and training in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Martin and Gracia Burnham, Christian missionaries kidnapped and tortured by Abu Sayyaf. Martin was executed as the Philippine Military closed in

Members of the ASG were once part of the Moro National Liberation Front, but started on their own in 1991 under the leadership of Abdurajik Abubakar Janjalani. Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, both of whom were involved with Operation Bojinka, took scuba trips to Puerto Galera. The trips may have been a cover for the training of Abu Sayyaf militants. After Ramzi Yousef bombed Philippine Airlines Flight 434, killing a Japanese passenger, a man stated in a telephone call, "We are [the] Abu Sayyaf Group. We explode[d] one plane from Cebu." The bombing was supposedly a test for Operation Bojinka, which was discovered by Manila police on January 6, 1995. Abu Sayyaf's first large-scale action was the beachhead assault on the town of Ipil in Mindanao in April 1995. It is responsible for the kidnapping and murder of more than 30 foreigners and Christian clerics and lay-workers. Abdurajik Janjalani was killed in a clash with the Philippine National Police on December 18, 1998. Khaddafy Janjalani, his younger brother, is said to have succeeded him. The death of Aburajik Abubakar Janjalani, otherwise known as Abu Sayyaf, marked a turning point in ASG operations, shifting from its ideological focus to more general kidnappings, murders and robberies. The ASG primarily operates in the southern Philippines with members occasionally traveling to Manila, but the group expanded its operations to Malaysia in 2000 when it abducted foreigners from two different resorts. A commander named Abu Sabaya was killed in 2002 while trying to evade forces. See, ( Galib Andang, aka Commander Robot, was captured in Sulu in December 2003. ( Abu Sayyaf is estimated to have a core membership of 200 with an extended membership of over 2000. The group was originally not thought to receive funding from any government, but intelligence reports from the United States, Indonesia, and Australia have found intermittent ties to the Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group. On February 27, 2004, a bomb exploded on the Superferry 14 near Manila, killing 116 people. Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility. It has been their deadliest attack to date.


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