Abu Sayyaf: Islamist extremists or profiteering criminals?
Philippines-based Islamist extremist group Abu Sayyaf has made international headlines with the kidnapping and subsequent killing of Canadian John Ridsdel, whose remains were found the day after a ransom demand deadline expired.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed Monday to work with the Philippines and international partners“to pursue those responsible for this heinous act and to bring them to justice.”
Abu Sayyaf is a violent extremist group that split from established Philippines separatist movement Moro National Liberation Front in 1991. It was formed by Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, who trained in the Middle East and reportedly met with al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, but the south has historically had a large Muslim population. Abu Sayyaf’s stated aim is to establish an independent Islamic state on the southern island of Mindanao.
The group first became active in the early 1990s and was responsible for bombings across the southern Philippines and in the Malaysian state of Sabah.
Following the 9/11 attacks, Washington worked hard with the Philippine military to try and stop the group’s terrorist activities.
Largely weakened by these attacks, Abu Sayyaf started to move from large-scale bombings to kidnappings, a move many analysts see as more profit-driven and criminal in intent.”Abu Sayyaf was formerly what we all think of when we think of a terrorist organization,” said Greg Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Washington-based Center for Strategic International Studies.
“But after about 15 years of a pretty harsh crackdown by the U.S. and the Philippines, what they’ve basically become is a criminal group made up of a few hundred who engage in extortion and kidnapping.”
Poling said the group is now largely fragmented, with around 200 to 400 members, and lacks the popular support base it enjoyed in the early 1990s.
“This is basically a group of criminals whose only support comes from family connections in the local communities,” he said.
“Abu Sayyaf is a violent extremist group that split from established Philippines separatist movement Moro National Liberation Front in 1991. It was formed by Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, who trained in the Middle East and reportedly met with al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.”
i think they go hand in hand..