Last Updated: Jan 15 2009 - Able2Act

Fact Sheet for Abu Sayyaf Group

Country: Philippines
Description: Abu Sayyaf, whose name means ?bearer of the sword? in Arabic, is a militant organization based in the southern Philippines. It seeks a separate Islamic state for the country's Muslim minority. The White House says Abu Sayyaf is a terrorist organization that boasts of ties to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, as well as the Indonesian network of Jemaah Islamiyah. In the early 1990s, Abu Sayyaf split from the Moro National Liberation Front, one of the two major Muslim separatist movements in the southern Philippines, which were then trying to come to terms with the central government in Manila. The group's first major attack came in 1991, when an Abu Sayyaf grenade killed two American evangelists.Its first leader was Abdurajak Janjalani, a Philippine Muslim who fought in the international Islamist brigade in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation. Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, a Saudi businessman living in the Philippines, provided crucial financing and organizational support for Abu Sayyaf in its early years. From 1998 to 2006 the group was led by Khadaffy Janjalani, who took over the leadership position when his older brother Abdurajak was killed.The group currently engages in kidnappings for ransom, bombings, assassinations, and extortion, and has ties to Jemaah Islamiya (JI). The ASG operates mainly in Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi Provinces in the Sulu Archipelago, and has a presence on Mindanao. Members also occasionally travel to Manila.The ASG has used terror both for financial profit and to promote its jihadist agenda. In April 2000 an ASG faction kidnapped 21 persons?including 10 Westerners?from a Malaysian resort, and, in May 2001, the ASG kidnapped three US citizens and 17 Filipinos from a resort in Palawan, Philippines, later murdering several of the hostages, including one US citizen. On 27 February 2004 members of Khadafi Janjalani?s faction bombed a ferry in Manila Bay, killing 116, and on 14 February 2005 they perpetrated simultaneous bombings in the cities of Manila, General Santos, and Davao, killing at least eight and injuring about 150. In 2006 ASG leader Janjalani?s faction relocated to Sulu, where they joined forces with local ASG supporters who are providing shelter to fugitive JI members from Indonesia. In July 2007, the ASG and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) engaged a force of Philippine marines on Basilan Island, killing 14, of which 10 were beheaded. In November 2007, a motorcycle bomb exploded outside the Philippine Congress, killing a Congressman and three staff members. While there was no definitive claim of responsibility, three suspected ASG members were arrested during a subsequent raid on a safehouse.
Leaders: Khadaffy Janjalani (- 2006 - Killed) Abu Solaiman (-2007 - killed)
Influencers: Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani
Observations: Location/Area of Operation The ASG was founded in Basilan Province and operates primarily in the provinces of the Sulu Archipelago, namely Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. The group also operates on the Zamboanga peninsula, and members occasionally travel to Manila. In mid-2003, the group started operating in Mindanao?s city of Cotobato and on the provincial coast of Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao. The group expanded its operational reach to Malaysia in 2000 with the abduction of foreigners from a tourist resort there. External Aid The ASG is largely supported by Middle Eastern Islamic extremists, but also receives funding from regional terrorist groups such as Jemaah Islamiya (JI), which is based mainly in Indonesia, and through acts of ransom and extortion. Libya publicly reported in 2000 that it paid millions of dollars for the release of the foreign hostages seized from Malaysia. JI operatives have provided training to ASG members and likely facilitated at least some of the ASG´s terrorist attacks.
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