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Whose friends are the Abu Sayyaf?


Terrorists seemed to have scaled down their vicious attacks to one-man operations and involving planting of improvised explosive devices.  We have seen the systematic decimation of the top commanders in the leadership echelon of the Abu Sayyaf terrorists. Let’s face it. From as many as over 1,000 members the ASG elements had been reduced to a disorganized pack of anywhere between 300 to 400. In fact, ASG as an organization, may no longer be existing.   

In retrospect, no less than 46 Abu Sayyaf leaders and sub-leaders were killed or arrested. This includes Galib Andang (alias Commander Robot), and Jainal Antel Sali (alias Abu Solaiman). Other prominent ASG leaders who were involved in terrorism and kidnap for ransom operations among them Khaddafy Janjalani and his brother, Abdurrajak, were likewise eliminated by Philippine forces. Abdurrajak, if we recall, was an Afghan jihadist veteran who organized the Abu Sayyaf Guerillas with funding from Osama bin Laden. Both had been effectively neutralized.   

The political upheavals in the Middle East and Africa, where despotic leaders like Moammar Khadaffy had so generously aid secessionist forces and Muslim extremists in other countries like the Philippines, have likewise dealt a big blow to terrorist organizations and separatist fronts.

But this is neither a cause nor the time for celebration. The government peace keeping forces cannot afford to be lethargic. As already pointed out the Abus may have been routed but the few who survived remains to be capable of brutality. Remember that in the case of the Basilan massacre of government soldiers, it was evident that the surviving ASG leaders were cuddled by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that operates in that island province.

In nearby Zamboanga, the Abu Sayyaf appeared to have entered into a strategic alliance with the MILF in carrying out their kidnap-for-ransom activities. In Cities like Zamboanga, Cotabato, Tacurong and General Santos, the terrorists still managed to plant IEDs. While the Philippine National Police, military, intelligence communities and the public have set up a cooperative endeavor that laid down a matrix intelligence gathering network, still terrorists manage to carry through with some of their objectives.

To their credit however government forces have discovered and effectively disposed of these improvised weapons for mass destruction.

Admittedly however, in all of these terroristic activities, it is difficult to determine whether it is the Abbu Sayyafs or the MILF  elements that carried out the operations. Which simply means that the intermingling and harmonious relationship of the ASG and the MILF forces and their sympathy for each other’s cause or causes cannot just simply be ignored.  Remember the saying, the enemy of your enemy is your friend?

By Menardo Wenceslao

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