Abu Sayyaf

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Abu Sayyaf (Arabic: جماعة أبو سياف‎; Jamāʿah Abū Sayyāf, ASG, Filipino: Grupong Abu Sayyaf) also known as al-Harakat al-Islamiyya is one of several military Islamist separatist groups based in and around the southern Philippines, in Bangsamoro (Jolo, Basilan and Zamboanga) where for almost 30 years various Muslim groups have been engaged in an insurgency for an independent province in the country. The name of the group is derived from the Arabic ابو, abu ("father of") and sayyaf ("Swordsmith[5]"). The group calls itself "Al-Harakat Al-Islamiyya" or the "Islamic Movement".

Since its inception in the early 1990s, the group has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortion in what they describe as their fight for an independent Islamic province in the Philippines.[6]

  • Manpower: Abu Sayyaf forces in Basilan and in Zamboanga Peninsula were, by June 2003, believed to number less than 500, down from more than 1,000 a year earlier.
  • Equipment: Abu Sayyaf uses mostly grenades, bombs (modified IED's and land mines), machine guns, rifles, rocket launchers and other weapons have been reported.

The United States Department of State has classified the group as a terrorist group by adding it to the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.[6] As a result, the CIA deployed paramilitary officers from their elite Special Activities Division to hunt down and kill or capture key terrorist leaders. Several hundred United States soldiers are also stationed in the area to mainly train local forces in counter terror and counter guerrilla operations, but as a status of forces agreement and under Philippine law are not allowed to engage in direct combat.

Location and view on Abu Sayyaf

Until his death in a gunbattle on September 4, 2006, Khadaffy Janjalani was considered the nominal leader of the group by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. His older brother Abdurajik Abubakar Janjalani, the founder of Abu Sayyaf, died in December 1998 in a gun battle with Filipino forces. Khadaffy's death was officially confirmed on January 20, 2007, through DNA analysis of both brother's remains. Both were natives of Isabela City, currently one of the poorest cities of the Philippines. Located on the north of the island of Basilan, Isabela is also the capital of Basilan province, across the Basilan Strait from Zamboanga City. But Isabela City is administered under the Zamboanga Peninsula political region north of the island of Basilan, while the rest of the island province of Basilan is now (since 1996) governed as part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to the east.

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