the Philippines


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Actions of the Abu Sayyaf Group


The Abu Sayyaf group is a small Islamic group but the most radical and most violent organized Islamic group in the Philippines. The group is active with  armed confrontations and kidnappings. 


The group still proclaims  that they fight against the national army for an independent Muslim state in the south. Until now (January 2003) the group refused to take part in any peace process between the government and other Muslims organizations. Last years it appears that they are only active with terror for financial profit. The group is mostly active on the island of Mindanao and the islands south of Mindanao.


Information on some recent events


Makers of bombs arrested

Five men were arrested in a house in the south of the Philippines, while they were busy with constructing a bomb. The five men are all members of the Abu Sayyaf. They are suspects of several bombings in southern Philippines.

October, 2002

Explosions in shopping center

Two explosions took place in the central shopping district of Zamboanga City, the central city of West Mindanao. Seven people were killed and eleven persons were wounded.

October, 2002

Gun battle on Jolo

Eleven soldiers were killed and 25 were wounded  in a gun battle in the tropical jungle of Jolo in the southern Philippines. The soldiers were searching for 3 Indonesian men and four Philippine Christians, who were being held hostage by Abu Sayyaf rebels.

October, 2002

Bombs explode in Santos City

On a Sunday in April 2002 three bombs exploded in General Santos City, in the southern part of Mindanao. 14 People were killed, including four children under the age of ten. More than 70 other people were injured. The bomb was hidden in an empty motorcycle taxi. Within  half an hour two other bombs exploded, one on the highway and one under a bridge at the city's port. The police  reported that they were convinced that the Sunday's bombings were the work of one of the region's Islamic militant groups. 

April, 2002

Free after: "New Series of Bombings in Philippines", ICT (Institute for Counter terrorism), April 22, 2002

Original sources: Associated Press, Reuters, Manila Times, Philippine Star, Philippine Inquirer

Abu Sayyaf active in a Malaysian dive resort  

Abu Sayyaf members crossed the border of neighbour country Malaysia to have a quick and short visit to a beach resort on one of the Malaysian island. They returned with almost two dozen hostages. The kidnapping of 21 persons, 10, mostly European tourists and 11 resort workers in April 2000, was spectacular.  The kidnapped tourists  were on holidays in a dive & beach resort on an island in  the neighbour country Malaysia. By fast,  small boats, they were brought by the rebels to Jolo, one of the small islands south of Mindanao. After many months all of the hostages were freed, but only after paying huge amounts of American dollars. About 1 million American dollar per hostage was paid.

April, 2000



In 1991 the Abu Sayyaf group split off from the bigger group MNLF.  They are mostly based in the islands Basilan, Sulu island and on the Tawi-Tawi islands.   

The name of the group "Abu Sayyaf"  was named after a Mujahedin fighter (a warlord) in Afghanistan. The meaning of the name 'Abu Sayyaf' is "Bearer of the Sword". The warlord fought  in the 1980s  against the Soviet-backed regime. The Abu Sayyaf group has now ties to Islamic organizations around the world. One of these organizations is Osama bin Laden's al Qaida.


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