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Abu Sayyaf--Abu Sayyaf Philippines Terrorist Group


Khadafi Janjali

Khadafi Janjali, head of Abu Sayyaf Group before his 2006 death


Founded In:


Home Base:

Southern islands of the Philippines


The group's stated goal is an Islamic state in western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, with the broader objective of a pan Islamic State spanning southeast Asia.

Notable Attacks:

Abu Sayyaf is notorious for its repeated use of kidnapping and demanding ransom to fund their activities. Despite the Islamist orientation of the group, their use of terrorist tactics purely for profit blurs the line between ideologically motivated terrorism and simply violent, organized crime.

  • April 2007: Seven workers were abducted and beheaded; their heads were then delivered to the Philippine army.
  • December 2006: The Abu Sayyaf group was suspected when three injuries resulted from a bombing inside a department store in the Philippines.
  • February 2004: Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility when 116 people were killed when the Superferry 14, a ferry sailing in Manila's waters, was exploded.
  • May 2001: Twenty were taken hostage from the Philippine island, Palawan. The group killed Guillermo Sobero, one of three American hostages.
  • April 2000: Abu Sayyaf militants kidnapped 21 on Sipadan, a Malaysian resort island Libya paid over $20 million to free them.
  • April 1995: In the first major attack by Abu Sayyaf group in Ipil, a southern Filipino town. Thirty were taken hostage, and 53 civilians and soldiers were killed.

Leadership & Membership:

The Abu Sayyaf Group was founded by Abduragak Abubakar Janjalani, who was killed in a shootout with police in 1998. Subsequent leader Khaddafi Janjalani was briefly on the FBI's most wanted terrorists list before his death leader until his death in September 2006. Its membership numbers have waxed and waned since its founding, but were reportedly around 4000 active members at the group's height.

Abu Sayyaf Group and Al Qaeda:

There is minimal evidence of strong ties between the Abu Sayyaf Group and Al Qaeda, especially at present. There is suspicion that Al Qaeda funded the group in its early years. Muhammad Jamal Khalifa, , Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law, may have met with the group around that time. Ramzi Yousef, who organized the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, probably had some connection with the group.

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