Abu Sayyaf

Abu Sayyaf
Participant in the Moro conflict, the Cross border attacks in Sabah and
the Global War on Terrorism
The Black Standard of ISIL, which was adopted by Abu Sayyaf
The Black Standard of ISIL, which was adopted by Abu Sayyaf
Islamic fundamentalism
LeadersAbdurajak Abubakar Janjalani [2]
Khadaffy Janjalani [3]
Radullan Sahiron[4][5]
Isnilon Totoni Hapilon [6][7][8]
Mahmur Japuri [9]
HeadquartersJolo, Sulu, Philippines
Area of operationsPhilippines, Malaysia
Size≤150 members (August 2018)[10]
Part of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Opponent(s)Philippines Government of the Philippines[12]

Abu Sayyaf (f/ (About this soundlisten); Arabic: جماعة أبو سياف‎; Jamāʿat Abū Sayyāf, ASG; Filipino: Grupong Abu Sayyaf),[24] unofficially known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Philippines Province, is a Jihadist militant and pirate group that follows the Wahhabi doctrine of Sunni Islam. It is based in and around Jolo and Basilan islands in the southwestern part of the Philippines, where for more than four decades, Moro groups have been engaged in an insurgency seeking to make the province independent. The group is considered violent [25] and was responsible for the Philippines' worst terrorist attack, the bombing of Superferry 14 in 2004, which killed 116 people.[26] The name of the group is derived from the Arabic abu (Arabic: أبو‎) ("father of"), and sayyaf (Arabic: سيّاف‎) ("swordsmith").[27] As of 2012, the group was estimated to have between 200 and 400 members,[28] down from 1,250 in 2000.[29] They use mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles.

Since its inception in 1991, the group has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortion.[30] They have been involved in criminal activities, including kidnapping, rape, child sexual assault, forced marriage,[31] drive-by shootings, extortion and drug trafficking.[32] The goals of the group "appear to have alternated over time between criminal objectives and a more ideological intent".[28]

The group has been designated as a terrorist group by Australia,[13] Canada,[14] Indonesia,[15] Japan,[16] Malaysia,[17] the Philippines,[12] United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom[18] and the United States.[19][33] From 15 January 2002 – 24 February 2015,[34] fighting Abu Sayyaf became a mission of the American military's Operation Enduring Freedom and part of the Global War on Terrorism.[35][36] Several hundred United States soldiers were stationed in the area to mainly train local forces in counter-terror and counter-guerrilla operations, but, following a status of forces agreement and under Philippine law, they were not allowed to engage in direct combat.[36]

The group was founded by Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, and led after his death in 1998 by his younger brother Khadaffy Janjalani until his death in 2006. On 23 July 2014, Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon swore an oath of loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIL.[7] In September 2014, the group began kidnapping people for ransom, in the name of ISIL.[37][38]

Background and history

In the early 1970s, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) was the main Muslim rebel group fighting in Basilan and Mindanao.[33] Abdurajik Abubakar Janjalani, the older brother of Khadaffy Janjalani, had been a teacher from Basilan, who studied Islamic theology and Arabic in Libya, Syria and Saudi Arabia during the 1980s.[39][40] Abdurajik went to Afghanistan to fight against the Soviet Union and the Afghan government during the Soviet–Afghan War. During that period, he is alleged to have met Osama Bin Laden and been given $6 million to establish a more Islamic group drawn from the MNLF.[41] The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was established in 1989 in part in response. Both Abdurajik Abubakar and Khadaffy were natives of Isabela City, one of the poorest cities of the Philippines. Located on the northwestern part of Basilan, Isabela is the capital of the province. Isabela City is administered under the Zamboanga Peninsula political region north of Basilan, while the rest of the island province of Basilan is since 1996 governed as part of ARMM to the east.

Abdurajik Abubakar Janjalani leadership (1989–1998)

In the early 1990s, MNLF moderated into an established political government, the ARMM. It was established in 1989, fully institutionalized by 1996, and became the ruling government in southern Mindanao. When Abdurajik returned to Basilan island in 1990, he gathered radical members of the old MNLF who wanted to resume armed struggle and in 1991 established the Abu Sayyaf.[33] Janjalani was fundedby a Saudi Islamist, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, who came to the Philippines in 1987 or 1988 and was head of the Philippine branch of the International Islamic Relief Organization foundation. A defector from Abu Sayyaf told Filipino authorities, "The IIRO was behind the construction of Mosques, school buildings, and other livelihood projects" but only "in areas penetrated, highly influenced and controlled by the Abu Sayyaf". According to the defector, "Only 10 to 30% of the foreign funding goes to the legitimate relief and livelihood projects and the rest go to terrorist operations".[42][43][44][45] Khalifa married a local woman, Alice "Jameelah" Yabo.[46]

By 1995, Abu Sayyaf was active in large-scale bombings and attacks. The first attack was the assault on the town of Ipil in Mindanao in April 1995. This year marked the escape of 20-year-old Khadaffy Janjalani from Camp Crame in Manila along with another member named Jovenal Bruno. On 18 December 1998, Abdurajik was killed in a gun battle with the Philippine National Police on Basilan Island.[47] He is thought to have been about 39.[40]

The death of Aburajik marked a turning point in Abu Sayyaf operations. The group shifted to kidnappings, murders and robberies, under younger brother Khadaffy. Basilan, Jolo and Sulu experienced some of the fiercest fights between government troops and Abu Sayyaf through the early 1990s. Abu Sayyaf primarily operates in the southern Philippines with members traveling to Manila and other provinces. It was reported that Abu Sayyaf began expanding into neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia by the early 1990s. Abu Sayyaf is one of the smallest, but strongest of the Philippine Islamist separatist groups. Some Abu Sayyaf members studied or worked in Saudi Arabia and developed ties to mujahadeen, while fighting and training in the war against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.[39] Abu Sayyaf proclaimed themselves to be mujahideen and freedom fighters.

Khadaffy Janjalani leadership (1999–2007)

Until his death in a gun battle on 4 September 2006, Khaddafy Janjalani was considered the nominal leader of the group by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Then 23-year-old Khadaffy took leadership of one of the Abu Sayyaf's factions in an internecine struggle.[47][48] He then worked to consolidate his leadership, causing the group to appear inactive for a period. After his leadership was secured, Abu Sayyaf began a new strategy, taking hostages. The group's motive for kidnapping became more financial than religious during this period, according to locals. The hostage money probably provides the group's financing.[41]

Photograph of Jainal Antel Sali Jr. in 2006. Sali was later killed during a heavy gunfight with the Philippine authorities in 2007.[49]

The group expanded its operations to Malaysia in 2000, when it abducted foreigners from two resorts. This action was condemned by most Islamic leaders. It was responsible for the kidnapping and murder of more than 30 foreigners and Christian clerics and workers, including Martin and Gracia Burnham.[50][51] A commander named Abu Sabaya was killed in 2002, while trying to evade local forces.[52] Galib Andang, one of the group's leaders, was captured in Sulu in December 2003.[47][50][53][54] An explosion at a military base in Jolo, on 18 February 2006 was blamed on the group by Brig. General Alexander Aleo.[55] Khadaffy was indicted in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for his alleged involvement in terrorist attacks, including hostage-taking and murder, against United States nationals and other foreign nationals.[56] Consequently, on 24 February 2006, Khadaffy was among six fugitives in the second and most recent group of indicted fugitives to be added to the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list along with two fellow members, Isnilon Totoni Hapilon and Jainal Antel Sali Jr.[57][58]

Isnilon Totoni Hapilon, one of the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists who is a member of Abu Sayyaf. He was finally killed by the Philippine Army during the battle of Marawi on 16 October 2017.[59]

On 13 December 2006, it was reported that Abu Sayyaf members may have been planning attacks during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in the Philippines. The group was reported to have trained alongside Jemaah Islamiyah militants. The plot was reported to have involved detonating a car bomb in Cebu City where the summit was to take place.[60] On 27 December, the Philippine military reported that Khaddafi's remains had been recovered near Patikul, in Jolo and that DNA tests had been ordered to confirm the discovery. He was allegedly shot in the neck in an encounter with government troops in September on Luba Hills, Patikul town in Sulu.


In a video published in the summer of 2014, senior Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and other masked men swore their allegiance or "bay'ah" to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the "Islamic State" (ISIL) caliph. "We pledge to obey him on anything which our hearts desire or not and to value him more than anyone else. We will not take any emir (leader) other than him unless we see in him any obvious act of disbelief that could be questioned by Allah in the hereafter."[61] For many years prior to this, Islamic State's competitor, al-Qaeda, had the support of Abu Sayyaf "through various connections".[61] Observers were skeptical about whether the pledge would lead to Abu Sayyaf becoming an ISIS outpost in Southeast Asia, or was simply a way for the group to take advantage of the newer group's international publicity.[61]

Other Languages
Bân-lâm-gú: Abu Sayyaf
Cebuano: Abu Sayyaf
čeština: Abú Sajjáf
dansk: Abu Sayyaf
Deutsch: Abu Sajaf
eesti: Abu Sayyaf
español: Abu Sayyaf
فارسی: ابوسیاف
français: Abou Sayyaf
한국어: 아부 사야프
Bahasa Indonesia: Abu Sayyaf
interlingua: Abu Sayyaf
italiano: Abu Sayyaf
עברית: אבו סיאף
Bahasa Melayu: Abu Sayyaf
Nederlands: Abu Sayyaf
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਅਬੂ ਸੱਯਾਫ਼
português: Abu Sayyaf
русский: Абу Сайяф
suomi: Abu Sayyaf
svenska: Abu Sayyaf
Tagalog: Abu Sayyaf
தமிழ்: அபு சயாப்
Türkçe: Ebu Seyyaf
اردو: ابو سیاف
Tiếng Việt: Abu Sayyaf